Artificial Intelligence (AI) has enabled marketers to advertise effectively at scale. So much so that it has become an integral part of their arsenal. From writing better headlines for their emails, to displaying intent based contextual advertisements to buyers, it wouldn’t be far off to say that AI’s contribution to the advertising fraternity has been revolutionary and has increased ROI in marketing.
Asking how important artificial intelligence is in taking marketing and advertising forward in India, moderator Shubho Sengupta, digital marketing consultant opened the floor for discussion to the panelists; Shweta Srivastava, head of digital marketing, Dr. Reddy’s; Gaurav Mehta, chief marketing officer, Girnarsoft; Girish J. Kalra, senior vice president, marketing and corporate communications, ICICI Lombard; Nitin Sethi, vice president, digital, Indigo Airlines.
Srivastava pointed out that the post pandemic world has realised that even though digital is important, knowing the customers is more important at this point and this is where the utilisation of AI enters the scene.”Marketeers were earlier just announcing about the product, brands were communicating one sided only, but this new situation has emphasised the need of knowing the customer more and more and making sure that we communicate the right thing at the right moment and that is where AI becomes very critical,” she added.
Speaking about the BFSI sector, Sengupta asked about the shift from traditional marketing to AI driven marketing in this sector. “When it comes to the BFSI sector, what we see is the engagement with customers has to be that much more, where there is so much of possibility in providing them new products and services compared to many other industries. But when it comes to AI and other automation tools, I think we are still in the initial phase,” Kalra said. He shared how the BFSI sector aims to utilise this technology for growth and how different sectors are working in a ‘W’ shaped path, wherein they accelerate and decelerate time to time when it comes to utilising AI. Kalra also spoke about how the disconnect between cross channel platforms like television, outdoor, digital and radio can pose a challenge for the harnessing of the capabilities of automation tools.
Highlighting the influence of AI in the startup universe, Mehta shared that startups might have the limitation of less capital, unlike big companies and thus turn this limitation into their strength and look at their first party or third party databases and accordingly invest in technology. He further highlighted the growth of AI by saying that in today’s age, people are chasing audiences rather than the content placement, and in order to chase the targeted audience AI comes into play for different companies.
“A two way communication is actually the key in retaining the customer,” Sethi said while speaking about utilisation of artificial intelligence in UI/UX. “Leveraging the digital identity, social identity and the brand’s marketing data are coming together with the help of AI/ML or big data and using all these technologies with a design thinking approach, you can actually craft beautiful experiences,” he added. Sethi shared how he thinks that the new age digital first marketing approach has a couple of more advantages as compared to the traditional marketing approach. “The ROI from these technologies, over a particular segmentation has given Indigo a great return on experience and not only on investment,” he said.
Srivastava highlighted that leveraging AI is definitely important, but at the same time it poses a lot of responsibility on the brands as to how to use it. “Artificial intelligence can be used for prescription brands or B2B brands to personalise at scale but also not compromising on the quality. For the other brands that are directly reaching out to the patients or the consumers, AI would help them to understand the need way before and start acting accordingly,” she said. She also spoke about utilising AI in product innovation and leveraging it effectively to provide a better solution to the customer.
On being asked about how AI helps in the functioning of Girnarsoft, Mehta said that it is majorly used to personalise journeys for anyone who wants to buy a car. It helps in moving the consumer from the awareness stage to the consideration stage and finally to the transactional stage. A lot of content placements and native advertising happens using this backend.
Working of content on the basis of acquisition, engagement and retention with regard to artificial intelligence, was the next topic of discussion for the panel. Sethi said that the types of videos that are made for the consumers include the content that has been derived from the searches on Google, FAQ’s or queries that come to the call centres for the airlines. He further shared how AI/ML have helped to present a self service chatbot to the customers, so that they do not need to wait to get their queries answered at the call centres.
A lot of rumors go around when it comes to healthcare, said Sengupta. He shared an example of rumors regarding the Covid-19 vaccines that have been going around and asked how AI helps in combating such rumors. Srivastava replied to this by speaking about the use of sentiment analysis and predicting some kinds of rumors using predictive analytics.
Taking the example of Motor Insurance, Kalra delved further into the utilisation of AI, by sharing how an AI application was created by the insurance company amidst the pandemic to help check and click photos of the vehicle in a situation like break in insurance. That is when he pointed out that there are a number of challenges like the numerous number of camera settings, the time of the day when the photo is clicked differs, the area from which the photo is taken and more. “All these are ultimately data for the AI engine and things can really go wrong in that case because it depends on the input that the engine gets and looking at the past data and trying to see what prediction it is making, is the whole point,” he added.
Mehta shared some tips for startups looking to be an AI driven marketing agency. First one being, rather than looking at the top end of the funnel, it is better to look at the bottom end of the funnel. Aligning oneself to the bottom end of the funnel matrix, is what might help the agencies from falling behind, he said. Moving further he suggested that training is extremely important in this field, so it depends on how much the agency is ready to invest in their team’s learning and development. He lastly said that the way the agency leverages the first party data set is an important criteria again, to get more and more audiences into the funnel. “With the cookieless world that is upon us right now, the first party data set becomes even much more valuable for any digital marketing operation, be it an agency or be it an in-house operation,” Mehta added.
Srivastava shared how she feels India can become the hub for the first stage of AI which is more operations based and how these operations are automated and are a little closer to predictive analytics. However, she also said that India might need some time to get into the second and third stage of artificial intelligence where AI requires some kind of memory (like chatbots) and where AI can recognise emotions. “The unstructured manner in which we are getting data in India, and the various data sharing rules and regulations which are happening outside India adds to the reason why I see there is still a way to go ahead,” she added.
The panel wrapped the discussion by sharing their and their organisations’ pandemic experience and how getting out of the lockdown made them feel. They shared whether or not their work will turn hybrid, or remain a work from home even further.