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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cost of information

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the cost of information

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a growing field for decades, but the uprise in virtual assistants in the home has opened a new channel of advertising. With it comes new challenges. Virtual assistants, like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, give consumers a hands-free, hassle-free way of looking up information, keeping track of their plans for the day, or even trying new recipes. But the marketing industry has been hit hard by consumers’ new ability to make purchases or browse the internet without being exposed to a traditional advertisement.

AI brings both benefits and pitfalls to the marketplace. Marketers have new tools at their disposal, but they’ve also been given quite a few hurdles to jump through.

Pros of AI:

  • Virtual assistant devices offer better, more precise data that’s willingly volunteered by consumers. For example, Amazon gets detailed, individualized data with every task Alexa takes on.
  • AI creates a discrete form of advertising that doesn’t feel like a marching band of business owners trying to sell you their products. For example, ask Alexa to buy you a soda, and she immediately suggests the top two products, one of them being a 24-pack of Izze Sparkling Juice drinks. Izze drinks are getting quick advertising to interested customers disguised as a casual conversation. Consumers don’t recognize advertising as easily in this new and unmarked territory.

Cons:

  • Now that consumers are able to order a new product or search something on the internet without even pushing a button, the emphasis on digital marketing is threatened. Desktop and mobile devices have been the biggest platforms for reaching consumers. Only time will tell how AI will modify the relationship between customers and new businesses.
  • AI devices are always listening to all sound sources in the home, waiting to be activated. AI marketing is supposed to be the next big leap in marketing, but what information is gathered, how, and what happens to that data? What price are customers willing to pay for those advancements. Privacy in our homes is guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Will consumers give up that right by agreeing to a software licensing agreement? Sometimes, with no marked path to follow, a fresh line will need to be drawn when it comes to what is ethical and what is business-savvy.

AI emphasizes the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) more than anything. Recommendations by virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri are based on the top results in search engines. Making sure that your service or product is at the top of the list will allow your business to wedge its way into those recommendations. AI management of various details in our lives can be a great asset. The question becomes, “what will be the cost of that growth?”

The importance of online micro-communities

The importance of online micro-communities

Online micro-communities help to define a customer’s needs and definition. If you follow a fitness ‘guru’ on Instagram, you have probably seen sponsored posts promoting health supplements or gym memberships. This reflects the prevalence of micro-communities in social media. A brand can most easily gain traction among people with relevant interests.

Focused content means targeted engagement. Sticking to what is pertinent to your industry will lead to higher revenue. The best way to grow and keep your following is to only promote relevant content.

A critical action is discovering which social networks your target market. Seeking out popular users in relevant industries is also vital. Their support will direct followers to your page.

Using the power of micro-communities is a straightforward way to find your target consumer group. Once you have cultivated an audience, that user following will expand out. Those with similar interests can be introduced to your brand through social media engagement, such as their peers’ ‘likes.’

“Likes” are not the same as engagement.

Engagement should be valued over community size. 5,000 Facebook Likes is nice, but 5,000 people on a mailing list or using your company’s hashtag is even better. Promote your brand, not just your business.

Having 10,000 to 100,000 followers is statistically proven to be an influencer’s sweet spot. As a page’s follower count grows, their interaction levels tend to decrease. The term is ‘micro influencer’ for a reason.

The effects of going viral are short lived. It rarely leads to continued success. Broader recognition can mean easily getting lost in the sea of other huge brands. It is therefore vital to recruit influencers with a more specific demographic.

Asking Kylie Jenner to promote your investment firm will get you some clicks. Will they convert to revenue and continued engagement? Probably not.

When promoting your company, stick to what makes sense. Utilize the right kinds of social media. If you don’t know how to engage, find people who do. The benefits of finding the right niche will be invaluable.

Application Programming Interfaces (API)

Application Programming Interfaces (API)

When companies go design their new shiny corporate app, a software engineer might tell the boss that the proposed mobile application will have to ‘talk’ to other computers. In order to facilitate this digital chit-chat, an added program may be needed to facilitate that electronic conversation. These coded exchanges are often facilitated by an Application Programming Interface (API). These may sound complicated, but they really aren’t. An API is just a way for one software system to interact with another. APIs form a set of rules and protocols that are designed to help programs communicate. Through an API, different software solutions can be integrated and work together. This is incredibly important for all levels of software development. 

How Does an Application Programming Interface (API) Work?

Imagine that you are from France and you only speak French. An acquaintance of yours is from Italy and only speaks Italian. How can you talk to each other? Many programs interact exactly like this; they have their own internal methods and processes that they use to complete tasks. A third-party program will need to learn to “speak their languages” and help the first two programs to understand each other. This is needed if they are going to complete a task.

You’re probably most familiar with APIs through eCommerce portals: online shops. When you’re buying something online, you’re often given the option to pay through PayPal. But how does PayPal know how much to charge you? How does it know what items are being purchased and who to send the money to? The website is using PayPal’s API: a series of directions that PayPal has published for interacting with their system.

When you buy a shirt through an online shop, the online shop sends that data through PayPals API. PayPal then collects the information, which has been formatted properly for its use, and uses it to charge you. It then sends information back to the online shop, regarding whether or not the transaction was successful. To you, the user, this transaction will appear quick, easy, and seamless. But there’s a lot going on in the background!

How Can APIs Be Integrated Into Mobile Devices?

Mobile applications often take advantage of APIs for advanced features. One of the most common examples is the Google Maps API, which includes all of the information that Google Maps does and is available for both Android and iOS. The Google Maps API has been the foundation of many critical apps. Other commonly used APIs include weather services, social media integration, and local directories. Through APIs, developers can gain access to a suite of features and a wealth of data that they would otherwise have to collect themselves.

Can an API Be Dangerous?

By now, you may be wondering whether an API could be used against you. Can it take you places without your knowledge? Can it transfer your information without you knowing? Put simply, yes: once you hand your information over to a software system, it can use that data as it wants. If you load an app that has a Google Map API, then Google may very well be able to see your location. And an API itself can become a vulnerability within a system.

This underscores the importance of maintaining your own security and using only reputable software vendors. In fact, many recent security leaks have occurred due to third-party software solutions. That being said, most software today contains some element of API usage, and it is impossible to avoid. For mobile devices, security settings can often be managed to control what you do or don’t give out — to anyone.

APIs provide an incredibly useful and necessary method of communicating between programs. For developers, they allow project teams to take advantage of resources that they would otherwise have to build themselves. For users, they ensure a better overall user and are often seamless in integration. Either way, APIs are an essential part of software development.

Live streaming video

Live streaming video

Live stream video is the superpower of the video marketing world. It offers the potential of a memorable marketing video while multiplying engagement with its interactive nature. Viewers can respond to the video in real-time, creating a conversation between customer and company. Unlike other forms of media that are strategized, planned, and produced, live stream video has a natural feel that allows customers to see a company in an organic environment.

Why use live stream video?

Live video ultimately creates the illusion of face-to-face interaction. You may not have time to sit down individually with each of your customers, but through live video, you can make them feel as though you have. It embraces conversation and develops a dialogue between a company and its customers. Unlike the thousands of other advertisements that consumers are exposed to daily, live streaming doesn’t leave room for edits, coverups, or patches. The format provides transparency — a characteristic that continues to hold more power with each year.

How to get started with live streaming video:

  • Ditch the script. Micro-organizing everything can make your video appear stiff and rehearsed. Take advantage of the organic nature of live video by finding a healthy balance between preparation and improvisation.
  • Bring in a fresh voice. Do interviews, ask others’ opinions, or create a mock panel. Changing things up gives a unique perspective and keeps consumers engaged and interested.
  • Have fun. It’s okay to crack a joke or stumble over your words. Be willing to be spontaneous, and let your customers get to know you.

Top trends in live streaming video:

  • Q&A sessions give the illusion of a face-to-face conversation. Consumers have a short attention span, but live video creates an environment that fosters immediacy. They’re much more likely to ask a question in this type of environment than they are to email someone and wait for a reply.
  • Special announcements — Announcing a new product or feature via live video helps build anticipation and excitement. Your customers are much more likely to get pumped about the big news when they see that you are.
  • Live events — Giving consumers a glimpse of a live event builds excitement and encourages customers to celebrate with you.
  • Behind-the-scenes looks — Giving a sneak peek of what goes on behind the curtain not only peaks curiosity; it also develops loyalty because customers feel knowledgeable about the company.

Research shows that consumers will watch a live video eight times longer than an on-demand video. Its unique personality cuts through the clutter of other forms of media and likely will continue growing as digital technology develops.

Using market segmentation

Using market segmentation

The internet creates useful technologies for personalizing your marketing content. This is market segmentation. The medium allows you to address your audience by name, give them specific recommendations based on their interests, or send them discounts that they’re more likely to respond to. These technologies allow you to utilize market segmentation and develop strategies to personalize content like no other medium can do.

What is market segmentation?

Market segmentation is a form of targeted marketing that allows you to personalize your marketing campaigns to the taste of the individual client. It uses information about your consumer audience—such as demographic or psychographic—to personalize your marketing strategy. It also allows you to automate this campaign strategy instead of analyzing every client profile individually. You might want to send different email campaigns to clients of different ages, or varying advertisements to clients in different locations. In short, consumers get specified advertisements, and your business wastes less time targeting the wrong audience.

Why use market segmentation?

In addition to leading to an average 19% increase in sales, a personalized web experience allows you to develop strong relationships and client loyalty. Do you know that appreciation you feel when your barista knows your drink before you order? That works for marketing too. Users are constantly bombarded with advertisements. Personalizing your campaign to the individual develops a unique and valuable human connection.

Four points for market segmentation:

  • Determine what your most valuable clients have in common. Age? Zip code? Education? This can give you hints about what they value and what they will respond to. It also gives you insight into what consumers you should be targeting to bring in new clients.
  • Use dynamic content—HTML content that changes based on the viewer. Dynamic content might recognize them by name or change the content of a form based on their occupation. In short, it makes the client feel recognized and valued.
  • Collect data before you collect an email. Doggyloot, a retail company that sells products for canines, asks subscribers how big their dog is before they sign up for emails. The idea is that products for big dogs are only sent to customers with big dogs. The result? Their click-through rate for these personalized email campaigns is 410% above average.
  • Utilize social media. While automation can be great for setting up campaigns, it can also be frustrating for clients when used too much. Social media allows you to create real person-to-person interaction. The consumer feels cared for when they’re not forced to talk to a robot to get their question answered. Plus, talking with your customers helps you know what they need and personalize the marketing campaigns you send them.

Ultimately, market segmentation works for the benefit of the consumer and the business. The consumer is only getting advertisements that they’re interested in and the business is getting the most from their marketing campaign. Although working to target demographics can take a little more work, it ensures that your marketing strategies are worth the work you’re putting in and will bring the best results.