Mod­ern mar­ket­ing AI will read minds

China Daily European Weekly - - Stoplight - By HE WEI

To­day’s dig­i­tal re­tail land­scape has spoiled mod­ern con­sumers to the point of ex­pect­ing a per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence. This means that mar­keters must im­prove cus­tomer in­ter­ac­tion and meet these de­mands by tap­ping into ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, in­dus­try ex­perts say.

Jacky Tang, gen­eral man­ager of Reo Com­mu­ni­ca­tions, a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing agency in Shang­hai, points out that AI tech­nol­ogy can al­low mar­keters to sep­a­rate their cus­tomers into dis­tinct cat­e­gories and un­der­stand ex­actly what mo­ti­vates them.

“By an­a­lyz­ing cus­tomers based on their move­ment among seg­ments over time, we can achieve dy­namic mi­croseg­men­ta­tion, and pre­dict fu­ture be­hav­ior in a very ac­cu­rate fash­ion,” he says.

Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd, the de­vel­oper of the mes­sag­ing app WeChat and mo­bile games, has been lev­er­ag­ing AI to cre­ate more per­son­al­ized shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ences by al­low­ing their part­ner mer­chants to cus­tom­ize their vir­tual store­fronts for in­di­vid­ual visi­tors. Ac­cord­ing to Ten­cent’s chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Ren Yuxin, the idea is to of­fer real-time, tai­lor-made prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions based on a va­ri­ety of fac­tors like age, gen­der, lo­ca­tion and pur­chas­ing power.

At Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, the world’s largest e-com­merce site by trans­ac­tion vol­ume, AI is used to pro­vide more pre­cise search re­sults and rel­e­vant prod­uct rec­om­men­da­tions to users, which in turn drives sales.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhao Bin­qiang, an al­go­rithm ex­pert at Alibaba’s dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing busi­ness unit, the com­pany’s “e-com­merce brain” sys­tem can iden­tify a con­sumer’s pref­er­ence for cer­tain prod­ucts, price ranges, prod­uct spec­i­fi­ca­tions and other key pa­ram­e­ters. It then uses the data to build mod­els to pre­dict what con­sumers want be­fore mak­ing rec­om­men­da­tions for rel­e­vant prod­ucts.

Ren Peiyu, chief prod­uct of­fi­cer and pres­i­dent of nEqual, a data tech­nol­ogy firm, says that ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is also play­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant role in help­ing mar­keters cap­ture the right au­di­ence and en­gage with ex­ist­ing users.

He re­ferred to the use of a data man­age­ment plat­form, which is in essence a uni­fy­ing plat­form to man­age, or­ga­nize and ac­ti­vate any form of data from any source, and con­vert it in a way that is use­ful for mar­keters, publishers and other busi­nesses to know their au­di­ences.

Ren ex­plaines that such plat­forms can cre­ate a set of au­di­ences based on a range of vari­ables like de­mo­graph­ics, ge­og­ra­phy and be­hav­ior to cre­ate a uni­fied cus­tomer view. It can also trans­late data into use­ful in­for­ma­tion for mar­keters, publishers and other busi­nesses to bet­ter know their au­di­ences.

Fast-mov­ing con­sumer goods, ma­ter­nity and baby prod­ucts, and au­to­mo­biles are among the top three sec­tors that em­brace such smart data man­age­ment tools to op­ti­mize cus­tomer out­reach, he notes.

“In China we no­tice a grow­ing ur­gency for brands to trace where their mar­ket­ing bud­get goes and how well the ad­ver­tise­ments are tap­ping into prospec­tive cus­tomers,” says Ren.

He also high­lighted how an al­go­rithm can make the lives of mar­keters eas­ier. For ex­am­ple, AI can be used to iden­tify tar­get au­di­ences sim­ply by an­a­lyz­ing what ad­ver­tise­ments peo­ple click on­line or the search terms they nor­mally use.

“This will re­duce the need for us mar­keters to un­der­stand every sig­nal and de­fine an au­di­ence, amid an in­flux of high ve­loc­ity and high vari­ance data,” he says.

“Also, with new av­enues such as the emer­gence of new so­cial me­dia plat­forms be­ing added fre­quently for the cus­tomer to in­ter­act with prod­ucts and ser­vices, AI’s prob­a­bilis­tic de­ci­sion-based jour­ney can help mar­keters adapt to the changes to the dy­namic cus­tomer jour­ney and tar­get the au­di­ence with bet­ter pre­ci­sion,” he says.

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