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How advertising to bots will make brands more human

Sam Fairburn
Sam Fairburn Planning Executive

Amazon’s making personal assistants affordable for everyone with the release of Amazon Dash. “Shopping made simple”, it enables everyday products to be re-ordered with the tap of a button. If find yourself running low on detergent, it’s replaced hassle free. The Amazon Echo goes one step further. It’s a hands free speaker controlled with your voice by connecting to the Alexa Voice Service. It has a similar approach to Apple’s Siri, ask it a question and it performs tasks as requested, such as playing music, checking cinema times or finding a restaurant.

Connected devices are on-trend right now. Car manufacturers General Motors and Tesla can fix problems ‘over the air’ with software updates, meaning owners don’t need to bring their car to the dealer. Last year Fitbit reported a 168% YoY increase in revenue due to the popularity of their connected fitness wearables. Adding network connectivity to everyday objects (Internet of Things) is fast becoming the norm and it won’t be long before your toaster is ‘talking’ to your bread bin.

The natural progression for these products is to further integrate artificial intelligence. At the moment purchase preferences are controlled by the user, but soon they will be able to anticipate your behaviours and suggest different and more tailored products for you. The beauty for consumers is that shopping will become quicker and more efficient.

This however, presents an issue for advertisers. As products are increasingly selected via algorithms, the traditional purchase cycle becomes less significant. The consequence of this is that the target audience is no longer a person, but instead a bot representing the customer’s preferences.

It is estimated that there will be 50 billion connected devices by 2020. This will inevitably lead to vast quantities of personal data being stored concerning customer’s every-day habits. For bots to notice brands through this white-noise, products must be easy to access and process online. To ensure brand visibility, they must be positioned so that they have presence in their customer's lives.

This highlights the importance of earned media. If customers are interacting with content, meaningful signals can be triggered that help bots to suggest that it is relevant. Brands therefore need to extend their marketing strategies by joining the wider conversations that their customers are having. Using Persil as an example; their marketing approach should talk about water waste, as well as stain removal. Following this approach, advertising to bots will mean that brands need to be become more human in their approach.