July 6, 2017

From AI to VR, Marketing’s Technological Future Has Arrived

Mary MahoneyBY Mary Mahoney

J. Robinson Group Blog

Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are probably the most talked-about future technology – except they’re no longer in the future.

virtual reality

AI, VR and other new technology − once the stuff of science fiction − are changing the marketing landscape dramatically.

Take AI: It’s the foundation of all the tools that help us more effectively leverage the other new technologies, including social media, mobile apps and content.

VR, or virtual reality, also will have a dramatic impact on content and how brands tell their stories, particularly in travel, where it can give clients an opportunity to “visit” a hotel or destination before booking by donning a VR viewer, or “goggles” and seeing everything in 360 degrees panoramas.

Perhaps AI’s biggest impact lies in its ability to help companies crack the puzzle of “big data.” Access to data isn’t the problem for most companies; they are drowning in it. They need help learning to analyze big data to make it useful. Big data is showing AI’s potential as a marketing game-changer.

What exactly is AI? According to Google, it is “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation between languages.”

That definition suggests that when deployed properly, it has the potential to make digital marketing a whole lot easier.

Many of us already are using AI without consciously realizing it. AI is what allows us to speak into our smartphones and desktop devices and get directions, phone numbers and even answers to silly, fun questions.

But AI’s potential is so much more, according to Robert Allen, editor of Smart Insights, who mapped out the 15 most effective AI  technologies for marketing across the customer lifecycle that include programmatic media buying, propensity modeling and predictive analytics, among others.

Among a host of other resources, Boomtrain recently ran an article about how AI can facilitate digital marketing by creating engagement and growth, fostering sales and brand-building. Adweek earlier this year described how four agencies are using artificial intelligence as part of the creative process subtitled, “Can Algorithms Replace Humans?”

As for virtual reality, we are only beginning to see the disruption – and potential – that technology will have, not only on marketing but on entire business models.

According to Entrepreneur magazine, consumers bought VR goggles by the thousands during the holiday season last year. By 2020, Forrester predicts that there will be 52 million units in circulation as both consumers and businesses find different ways to put virtual reality to use.

From new ways of storytelling to interactive immersive experiences, longtime digital media consultant John Boitnott says that “Virtual reality stands to change the way consumers try out products and learn more about the world outside of their own communities. When marketers find a way to use the technology to engage customers, brands can get the word out about their products and services and consumers can learn almost everything they need to know about a business from the comfort of their homes.”

The future is exciting indeed. But the vast potential and challenges of the unpredictable and fast-changing world of digital marketing underscore a fundamental truth: Technology never will disrupt the need for development of a traditional marketing plan, most importantly and the strategy the drives it.

Not every medium or technological marketing tactic is right for every business, and there are an almost overwhelming number of resources available. Once you have clearly identified your goals and audiences, it is much easier to block out the noise and identify the best course of action for your business.

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