AI connects the world in a way we haven’t been able to do before without boundaries. Even in a world of social media where connection is typical, we’ve found yet another new way to communicate. AI is evolving human culture.

This communication is reaching customers, employees of businesses of all sizes, and students of everything from fashion to medicine, and it has expanded the limits in which we can market to them.

AR & VR are Changing Consumer Behavior & Marketing Experiences

First, let’s talk about two fantastical and imagination-filled parts of AI: virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). VR is when you’re immersed in an environment outside of your own reality. AR is the augmentation of your own reality, the one that you’re currently in and surrounded by.

I’ll show you two examples.

In AR, many publishers, including USA TODAY, use this form to tell news stories in a more personal way ““ one that brings it closer to home and even creates empathy.

Recently, the product innovation team reconstructed the night raid in Afghanistan when U.S. Marines battled their own security detail and dozens of civilians died. Imagine being in that position, imagine the adrenaline, the regret of the loss of life, the foreign environment.

By learning more through AR in the USA TODAY app, you can better understand what this might have been like.

For an example in VR, let me refer to Amber Osborne, Seattle-based award-winning marketer who was previously the Chief Marketing Officer of virtual reality meeting and education software Rumii at Doghead Simulations. Rumii is a virtual reality office or classroom: customers put a small VR headset over their eyes, and they are immediately dropped into a shared space.

“Avatar you” feels like you are in a space with your “avatar colleagues,” so for people who work remotely, it creates a sense of closeness, creates the exact same environment, and pretty much negates the opportunity for distraction. One of the key benefits of this is that meeting time is a true meeting time ““ with no distractions, meeting productivity goes up.

This is a great example of how AI is changing not only digital marketing but the way we work and engage with one another on a day to day basis.

Check out Amber Osborne’s Growth Lab Show podcast episode here.

Machine Learning Impacts Data Collection

AR and VR are probably the “sexiest” forms of AI ““ you can see them, they make you feel something, or they train you. But AI is also a data collection machine. The “machine learning” form of AI is essentially the science of programming machines to be smarter than we are. This higher-level concept is truly the future of AI in digital marketing.

AI enables machines to make accurate predictions based on large sets of data, it offers us product recommendations on Netflix based on past viewing history, it acts as our voice assistant, it provides us that very handy safety net of real-time GPS navigation when we’re driving in the car, and it offers us a nifty selection of pre-written email responses in our Gmail accounts.

The best part about AI is that as it gathers more and more data, it can improve itself and become smarter without needing the programming of a human.

David Kender, editor in chief of Reviewed, clued us in to a four-part AI marketing plan he learned at CES, the enormous annual trade show in Las Vegas where tech brands debut their latest consumer electronic innovations. The home appliances company LG unveiled a new framework for advancing the future of AI technology.

While it is very high level and tech-giant oriented, consider borrowing this framework as a lens and laying it on top of your own marketing strategy.

  1. Efficiency: Your product or service should be able to perform simple tasks.
  2. Personalization: Your product or service can start to make recommendations. It can predict what your next step might be. (For instance, if you open Google Maps and are looking for directions to your hotel, Google will prompt you to book an Uber ride.)
  3. Reasoning: By collectively using all your customer data, you can better predict and promote positive outcomes for users.
  4. Exploration: This is further into the future ““ and fairly esoteric ““ but it utilizes a concept based on the scientific method called Experimental Learning. Essentially, what this amounts to is an AI-enabled machine possessing “wisdom.” The goal is to relieve us as humans of everyday mundane tasks, like ordering laundry detergent or calling a repair person.

As Kender sat in on this talk, taking copious notes, he was (hilariously) reminded of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics ““ entirely appropriate for today’s AI-curious world. Devised by the science fiction author in 1942, these rules were applied to his robotics-based fiction.

  • First Law: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  • Second Law: A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  • Third Law: A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

Already, it seems, we as a human race are getting comfortable with the idea that the Second Law may not actually be that important, considering how we want AI machine learning to get smarter and smarter over time, without requiring our help.

With these three forms of AI ““ virtual reality, augmented reality, and machine learning ““ we as marketers have the capacity to create richer, more personalized digital experiences for consumers and meet their increasingly high brand expectations.

And so far, as we’re in the toddler years of this technology, we can see no bounds. The possibilities are endless. It’s amazing what businesses can do when you give them (virtual) room.

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