From Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi epic Metropolis, to more recent incarnations in films like The Terminator and The Matrix, science fiction has always been fascinated by artificial intelligence (AI). But in our everyday lives, AI has often seemed more futuristic than realistic.
That is, until recently. As machine learning technology improves, artificial intelligence is moving out of the realm of science fiction and becoming decidedly mainstream. Nowhere is this more apparent than in marketing, where AI is becoming a virtually indispensable tool. Here are 10 examples of AI that today's marketers couldn't do without.
1) Deep learning
Deep learning is the science that lies behind most marketing AI. Deep learning "teaches" computers a variety of skills, such as how to understand text, speech or photos, and apply what it learns to deliver answers, clarify queries or offer suggestions. For example, deep learning is part of Facebook's efforts to improve filters on the posts and ads you see. Read on for more examples of what deep learning can do.
2) Content curation and recommendations
We're all familiar with the now-commonplace "If you liked this, you might also like..." content recommendations at the end of many articles on the web. What many people don't realize is that these recommendations are based on deep learning and other AI, where machines analyze large chunks of data about people's behavior on the web to determine what they're most likely to want to do next.
3) Writing SEO optimized (clickbait) headlines
Let's be honest, clickbait headlines are formulaic at best. Fortunately for marketers everywhere, especially those with writer's block, Norwegian researchers are using deep learning and neural networks to teach machines how to write headlines like, "You'll Never Believe these 16 Facts About Clickbait Articles - Number 7 Will Blow Your MIND!"
4) Product recommendations
Content isn't the only place where marketers are able to leverage deep learning to make recommendations. A visit to any major eCommerce website, including Amazon, demonstrates how AI is used to recommend products based on the products you click and buy.
5) Speech recognition
If you're using Siri, Cortana, or any voice search app on your mobile phone, then you're aware of just how far speech recognition has come in the last few years. Speech recognition is becoming increasingly important in the realms of SEO and content marketing, since the rise in voice search means content must be optimized for queries that come in question form, rather than simple keywords.
Google uses RankBrain - a machine learning technology - to analyze spoken or written search queries and is able to process them into search results that are most likely to be what you're looking for. It goes beyond returning exact keywords and phrases; it compares each query to other, similar queries to return the ones that are most likely to be what you're trying to find, including more relevant ad results.
7) Ad targeting
Sites like Google and Facebook use bits of code to track website visitors and target ads accordingly. Most marketers agree that the process is clunky and difficult to use. Google is now beginning to experiment with a new AI technology called recurrent neural networks (RNN) that is capable of "remembering" bits of information for short periods of time, potentially eliminating the need for specialized ad targeting code in the near future.
As marketing channels proliferate, marketers need a way to manage those interactions cost effectively. Many marketers use chatbots - or artificial intelligences that are able to interact with humans - to answer routine questions, assist with purchases, book travel and much more.
9) Marketing automation
Marketing automation uses AI to engage customers, analyzing their behavior and deliver tailored content to move them through the sales cycle, whether by recommending content, engaging with them across platforms, or tailoring email campaigns.
10) Dynamic pricing
Commonly used in the travel industry, dynamic pricing - which sets product prices according to demand and availability - is a growing use of AI in marketing. It's not just for airfares; if you've ever left an item in a shopping cart on Amazon only to find the price changed significantly overnight, you may have experienced dynamic pricing at work.
AI is helping today's marketers analyze data and engage customers better than ever before. AI is so quickly becoming so indispensable that marketers may not even realize that the technology they use to do their jobs today was the stuff of wild-eyed imagination just a few short years ago.