Caspar Mason, Creative Strategy Director at Jack Morton Worldwide ponders how to create comms that will thrive in the age of artificial intelligence
Another month, another set of mind-boggling AI developments, from a neural network able to “create knowledge itself” to an hour-long morphing video of fake celebrity faces. And we well know that agencies are jumping all over it, from huge infrastructure projects like Marcel, Publicis’ AI platform and R/GA OS to AI CDs.
But we’re so busy looking for an edge (while trying to work out how to avoid becoming part of the ‘I didn’t see AI making them all redundant’ statistics), we’re in danger of being blinkered. Ask not what AI can do for you, ask what you need to do for AI.
An hour-long video of AI-generated fake celebrity faces morphing into each other. Err... enjoy!
Whether it’s video content, live experiences or any other format or channel you care to think of, the advent of AI means that the experiences and comms we create for brands can no longer be driven simply by the goal of connecting with people. As technology wraps ever closer around us - and gets better at coping with natural interactions - AI assistants are only going to entwine themselves more tightly about our lives. Whether they’re names you’ve heard of (Google, Alexa, Siri, Bixby, the usual suspects) or one’s you’ve not - a big hello to Mycroft, Cubic, Aido and friends - they will be the agents we turn to, to search, compare, aggregate, suggest and even buy on our behalf. And in doing so, they’re going to become the main gatekeeper for our customers - if not a customer in their own right.
These consumer-side bots are likely to stay with us, learning our preferences, remembering our loyalty cards and buying habits. So when we say ‘OK…erm...Mycroft, buy more toilet paper’, a purchase decision will be made on our behalf. We may have set parameters and variables - most eco-friendly or best-rated - which could change dynamically. And as long as we’re happy with it, we won’t mind if it’s our usual brand or something else. We’ll have outsourced the decision to an algorithm.
This is particularly relevant in the world of voice UI and IOT, where screenless interactions means media space is disappearing. And in WhatsApp and Messenger chatbots, where the entire purchase cycle can now happen without getting near any brand-owned channels.
In other words, we have fewer and fewer places to get our message across (especially when intrusive ads, rollovers and pop-ups have all but broken the online reading experience). And these new AI gatekeepers will have more and more control over what makes it through.
At Jack, we have a mantra to help us create extraordinary experiences for brands: simple, moving, original. And that’s only going to get more important when your comms are being scrutinised by the unblinking eye of AI bots. If you can’t express it in a simple, short sentence, it’s not getting past the AI.
They used to say that if you wanted to hide a body, you should put it on page two of a search results page. With AI-led recommendations, especially voice and chatbot agents, you could safely stash the cadaver anywhere after result number three. This means that a turbocharged, algorithm-led SEO will become more important than ever. And things like brand reputation, as expressed through online sentiment and reviews, will become more relevant than ever. When Google’s assistant is scouring the web to help you find a hotel, it will almost certainly go via its own reviews, Trip Advisor et al. Which means, ironically, that getting the AI bots onside means getting more people onside and emotionally engaged to the extent that they want to share their enthusiasm online.
There’s a big shift coming for our industry, and navigating this brave new world means keeping both audiences – human and AI - engaged. The approaches most likely to be effective with each audience couldn’t be more disparate, but simple, moving and original is a great place to start.