Close encounters of the AI kind

Andy Ball, managing director of Balls2 Marketing, talks about how artificial intelligence is impacting PR and marketing.

When you hear the phrase ‘artificial intelligence’, I’d bet that the first thought that comes to you is Star Wars, Westworld or HAL 9000, but AI is no longer science fiction.

It’s not just in the tech labs or for geeks either. AI is being used more commonly in everyday life right now. If you’re asking Siri for the weather forecast or getting Alexa to play your new favourite album, you’re using AI.

It’s a massive investment area at the moment and it won’t be long before Elon Musk’s self-driving cars make their way across the pond to the UK. But what about the impact on marketing?

Voice search is changing the way Google finds answers, because what people type and what people ask out loud are very different, so content now needs to appeal to longtail key phrases and derivatives of keywords.

The Press Association recently announced that it is trialling the Radar (reporters and data and robots) scheme that will generate local news story templates for reporters. From writers creating 15 template stories each week, 250 versions of each story will be generated for local press organisations, creating almost 4,000 pieces of content.

Chatbots are another key growth area. At Marketing Week’s Supercharged Conference in May, Naresh Vyas, head of solutions delivery for RBS, explained that their chatbot helps customers with queries like address changes and credit card activation. The bot deals with more than 200,000 queries every month now, leaving staff to talk to customers about more complex issues.

It makes sense that consumers are happy to talk to chatbots, especially since Facebook reported that more than two billion messages are exchanged between users and business pages every month.

With that in mind, my advice for home improvement companies would be to make sure that your social media inboxes are checked regularly, your SEO-rich content is updated with longtail key phrases, and you read your local paper a little more closely next time.