There’s more to AI for marketers than cost savings

IBM recently announced that it has been using its artificial intelligence programme, Watson, to plan and buy online media. By using AI, IBM has managed to reduce its cost per click by on average 31%, a statistic that it is understandably proud of.

But while AI is useful for cost-saving, it has a far greater potential in making advertising more effective at changing people’s opinions.

Children always know the best possible time to ask their parents for something – when they’re in a good mood, relaxed, more receptive to ideas and likely to say yes. Brands should be looking for that same sweet-spot, where their adverts will be effective, will influence a behaviour, whether it’s generating a positive feeling towards the brand or increasing the likelihood of their product being picked off the supermarket shelves.

When applied correctly, artificial intelligence can lead brands to these moments. Sophisticated AI algorithms identify the instant when hundreds of factors – the location, the weather, app used, behaviour history, time of day and week, type of creative – align to create conditions where the user is the most likely to be influenced by the advert.

Machine learning technology is then used to train the AI systems to become better at recognising these moments over time: the more data it processes the better it becomes. This enables brands to optimise towards the moments which will have the greatest impact on their campaign objective – whether that’s to sell more product, get people loving the brand or to put down their mobile phones and visit a store location.

When AI systems are built for advertising, working across large data sets and integrating with the ad server so it is able to make these analyses and decisions in milliseconds, campaigns can become significantly more effective. Campaigns run for FMCG and consumer tech brands and optimised with AI have shown double the performance across brand metrics compared to controls. If an advertising campaign doubles purchase intent using AI compared to a campaign run without it, brands can reasonably expect to see a rise in sales revenue as a result.

As interest in, and understanding of, artificial intelligence grows, its implementation across the advertising industry will continue to be explored. AI offers a wide range of benefits, from improving the user experience to delivering high viewability rates to cost savings, but AI’s real potential lies in demonstrably improving the influencing power of an advert. These campaigns, delivered in the moment where they are most likely to be persuasive and effective, lead to measurably greater returns for brands, and after all, increasing sales is a much safer way to achieve business growth than simply cutting costs.

Stephen Upstone is chief executive and founder of LoopMe

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