Five ways Artificial Intelligence could power content marketing

February 15th, 2018

Last week I went to an event hosted by StoryStream, which bills itself as as a ‘next generation content marketing platform for brands.’ To help launch its new Aura platform, more on which in a moment, the company assembled a trio of AI experts to discuss how the technology might impact on marketing in the coming years.

After an hour or so of fascinating debate it became clear that Artificial Intelligence tools for marketers have huge potential – it is just down to the foresight and imagination of those marketers as to how they are used and how effective they are.

So how then might AI impact on the future of content marketing? Here are five ways that it is being used already that are likely to become a lot more common in the future.

1. Content creation – Robots are already replacing journalists at some media companies, but their role is rather limited. As Francesca Marconi of Associated Press, which has been experimenting with AI in this way, explained recently, “there are many good examples of projects with automated insights. We take structured data (eg sports and financial data) and then develop the templates which include specific sentences. The AI matches the data with the template to generate a story that is readable by humans. This is automation with little human intervention.”

In the future it is possible that longer, more complex pieces of content, can be created using AI. But as Francesca, and many others point out, AI will never totally replace humans in content creation.

The next area of content creation likely to be disrupted by AI is video and I think this is where brands will start to become more interested. They will be able to create video templates leaving the AI to fill in the gaps, such as adding the words, reordering the images/footage. Those caption-led videos, which can potentially be personalised to suit differing customers personas, are going to be very simple to produce at scale.

2. Image and content management – This is one of the areas that StoryStream is innovating in. Its new Aura AI system uses visual recognition technology to help brands find images that are likely to resonate best with customers. The platform assesses images rating their appropriateness for a campaign, looking not just at what is in the image (location, colours, objects etc) but also factors like how it might emotionally connect with users. In addition to smart digital asset management, Aura also delivers multi-channel publishing and supports this with content analytics.

To stand out on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat brands are going to need to get cleverer at choosing images. Harnessing AI to collect the most appropriate ones and optimise them for each campaign will help savvier companies stand out.

StoryStream’s Aura

3. Customer insight and personalisation – AI can create thousands of custom personas driven by data information from the obvious (age, demographics etc) to the more subtle (previous communications, referral source). These can then be used to pull together email lists which can be very tightly targeted.

There are many companies operating in this space inducing Dynamic Yield, which also offers an AI powered content recommendation system and Richrelevance.

Content personalisation has been a key trend for several years now. AI’s trump card is that it enables brands to do it quickly and at scale.

4. Chatbots and conversational content – One of  the many ways bigger brands are experimenting with AI at the moment is via chatbots which are invariably used in customer relations. They run from the very basic through to ultra sophisticated bots like the one which powers the excellent fintech app Cleo.

A couple of years ago some publishers got very excited about the potential of chatbots for recommending content, and this yielded some interesting experiments. The best of which is the very smart Quartz app which suggest news stories it thinks its readers are most likely to view in an informal and engaging way. National Geographic also deployed an Albert Einstein bot to promote its Genius series about the scientist.

The opportunity for brands is to use chatbots to find out more information about their customers and then to use this data via AI to present them with relevant content. A good example of this is Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook Messenger bot TMY.GRL which takes a conversational approach to gently push users towards content on the Tommy Hilfiger site.

5. Optimising PPC advertising – AI is at its most potent if it can mine large amounts of data to find trends and then make recommendations. This makes it ideal for managing PPC advertising. One company that might be providing a glimpse of the future is Albert. They have an AI powered platform that can process the data from omni channel campaigns and then make recommendations to which channels are the most successful at engaging with customers and delivering results. London based Clicteq operates in a similar space offering an AI automated approach to both paid search and paid social.

Ashley Norris, Consultant Editor, The CMA

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