AI is powerful, and its implications for the future of marketing and communications are vast. The first marketers to master it will be able to harness its power writes, Krish Sailam, Global VP, DWA Media
Google had a lot to say at its annual Google I/O developer conference this year, but the announcement that left everyone buzzing was the company’s demo of its super-intelligent AI-based Google Assistant application—an application so smart that it can actually make phone calls to people and companies on your behalf.
The “wow” factor is high here. (You’re definitely going to watch the demo if you haven’t already.) But marketers should resist the urge to simply marvel over this technology and move on. This application of AI is powerful, and it’s not theoretical. It’s here. And its implications for the future of marketing and communications are vast. The folks who first wrap their brains around a future in which use of these types of services becomes commonplace are the ones who are going to be a step ahead.
Practical uses, now and later
As you can see from the video demo, the Assistant application can understand various nuances associated with human speech and react accordingly. The humans on the other end of the line have no idea they are talking to a computer. Of course, the system needs to be trained for these situations. However, the rate at which such systems are learning is only increasing.
This technology can easily be used for various simple applications, like booking a table at a restaurant or confirming a hotel reservation. These are Groupon-type activities that are fairly simple to decipher. However, as more developers get a hold of the tools for this technology, the possibilities will start to expand rapidly.
It is easy to envision applications for this technology in healthcare, where Google Assistant might serve as an alternative to calling a doctor or nurse for advice. In the entertainment world, we might see people write stories for these systems that enable people to interact with a celebrity’s voice in a simulation of a real-life dialogue. In education, this could be a valuable teaching tool, giving students access to virtual one-on-one voice tutors.
This technology might also represent the future of B2B lead generation, enabling people to easily schedule software demos and ask pricing questions. In fact, the applications across customer service are seemingly limitless. Hopefully, we can all look forward to a future where we no longer have to press 0 to talk to the operator. The operator—a virtual one, that is—will simply answer the phone.
But of course, let’s be honest. Not all users will be so pure. Certain industries will adopt this technology faster than others, and a likely one could be pornography. Think of it as a 21st-century resurgence of phone sex hotlines. And of course, solicitors seeking donations are going to be happy to get their hands on something that trumps today’s instantly recognizable (and disregarded) recorded calls.
What do marketers need to be considering?
Google’s new Assistant technology will no doubt affect our lives as consumers moving forward. But the wise marketer should also consider how it will affect the overall marketing and communications landscape.
There will be a need for regulation or disclosure that says you might be talking to a machine. As a Google service, it is reasonable to think the company could introduce voice ads into the conversations as an eventual monetization path. Done correctly, this technology could fuel both powerful promotions and helpful services for users. Consider: “Hey there, Joe. The restaurant where you were trying to get a table is full. Do you want to just stay in and order Dominos?”
Beyond Google-driven applications, businesses can also use this technology to engage with their customers. Imagine being able to research a particular software or hardware with web research, as well as a robo-conversation that helps you put together a deeper assessment of the technology. B2B marketers should look at this technology as a major breakthrough in terms of lead engagement. Of course, introducing AI into this process will likely dictate a need to define a new term in lead qualification. Organizations will need to distinguish between leads that are qualified by humans versus artificial intelligence and manage them accordingly.
This technology also opens a new opportunity for companies to create branded voices. Imagine, for a moment, booking a table at a restaurant while speaking to a system that sounds like Gordon Ramsey. Likewise, B2B companies could look to brand a unique voice in the same way they would brand via a logo or jingle.
The technology behind Google Assistant’s new phone capabilities opens up a new era of possibilities for brands. As its applications expand, marketers should be ready to put them to work not just in a customer service capacity, but also in meaningful ways that can serve to build and distinguish their brands.
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About the Author
Krish SailamVice President – DWA
Krish brings a rare mix of skills that includes both client services as well as product strategy. He considers himself a liaison between the external world and the internal groups. His experience across, EMEA, APAC and the US with B2C and B2B clients allow him to ramp up quickly and create a positive impact from day one. He is a true believer in the fact that advertising will always be a mix of technology and psychology.
Although he has lived in a variety of amazing cities in the world, he still thinks NYC Pizza is the best pizza around. When the robots take over, Krish plans on making photography or carpentry his full-time job.