Digital marketers must embrace creative uses of AI
Barry He


Editor's note: Barry He is a London-based freelance columnist. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

China's potent AI digital marketing sector is the invisible force behind some of the nation's largest e-commerce and brick and mortar success stories. To prosper in advertising, brands would do well to recognize the growing value of artificial intelligence, and to apply more creative uses of this potent technology.

At face value, it is the influencer streamers on Douyin achieving millions of RMB in sales who are the spitting image of modern marketing icons. Figures have reached eye-watering margins, with tech entrepreneur Luo Yonghao known to reach 168 million RMB ($26 million) in a single live stream session. Even the elderly such as 78 year old "Grandma Wang" who "only wears high heels" has gained more than 16 million followers for her exquisite style and reportedly sold 5.4 million RMB worth of products in just a single livestream back in the height of lockdown in April 2020. 

It is however artificial intelligence and the understanding of how to calibrate complex algorithms, which are the wind in the sails behind these lucrative online personalities. By utilizing data driven analytics and e-commerce optimization, millennials and Gen Z are more commercially engaged than ever when watching their favorite Douyin stars.

AI in some regards is standard practice for marketers now, with many companies already practicing customer analytics to target adverts more specifically. Amazon for example alongside many others now, uses big data analysis AI to specifically show relevant items of interest to online shoppers, based on information such as previous search results and shopping history. More creative uses of such a potent technology however must be used by brands looking to stay a step ahead.

Brands should tap into the growing area of AI content creation tools. A study by Google suggests that as many as 40 percent of millennials trust video content as an engaging medium to obtain information from. Visual content marketing is in itself a huge global industry which is constantly evolving, as well as being extremely costly. According to Statista, advert spending annually tops around $649 billion globally. AI can be used as a tool to both curate and produce creative online content, and to find the most direct way of putting them in front of the target demographic. 

The technology already exists to automate content generation on a rudimentary level, but by being familiar with tools which are still in their infancy, brands will be well placed to capitalize on them in several years when AI is able to generate engaging storyboard concepts and captivating messages for audiences. To not prepare staff for this online advertising revolution and lack training investment would be setting up any hardworking brand for an uphill struggle.

Companies should consider AI as a useful tool for physical adverts seen on the street too. Digital marketing analytics currently does not have much scope for analyzing big data footfall for where customers are most likely to see a billboard, video screen or poster on the street. This is only possible by processing complex data using AI algorithms and machine learning to increase the chances of a well-placed message finding the right person in megacities around the world. 

Advertising currently is akin to throwing punches in the dark hoping that one lands, with most adverts we see on a day to day basis being completely irrelevant to the average random person. To save both time and money, such systems must be used to ensure that accurate and well-placed content can reach like-minded consumers. In our new world of digital marketing, it is not just creativity that matters, but how directly they can reach prospective audiences.

AI allows for interconnected innovation across various fields. /VCG

AI allows for interconnected innovation across various fields. /VCG

Advances in voice recognition AI mean that companies should invest into vocal search functions on sales platforms. Many studies indicate that as we move more and more to mobile browsing, handsfree search functions are becoming increasingly normalised. Whether this is on Baidu, Amazon's Alexa or Google, e-commerce sales are increasingly initiated through vocal inquiries. 

This is typically processed by technology capable of understanding an impressive 95 percent of human speech accurately. When one considers the fact that humans only tend to achieve around this figure in person, it should be assumed that the technology is at a level where uptake should spur brands on to facilitate these functions before they become the status quo.

We are only just scratching the surface of how AI will impact digital marketing. The best advice for brands generally would be to openly embrace innovation and understand it fully. The large expansive ocean of data now available on the internet regarding consumers, has turned e-commerce into one huge scientific laboratory. 

New discoveries are happening on a daily basis, and many more applications for AI will be sure to emerge in the coming years. Human brains cannot possibly hope to make sense of it all, and so AI must be used as a crutch to help businesses keep up with the pace of industrial change and market forces. Just as marketers of the previous centuries had to adapt to the advent of the television or printed press to potentialize their message, so too now must digital marketers be able to predict customer behaviors and cater for developing technology habits.

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