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Dawn of the Age of Assistance

Artificial Intelligence is definitely the buzz word going into #AWEurope in London and judging by the number of AI related events, it will be the topic of the week.

According to Google’s Behshad Behzadi, ‘Search is a connection between inspiration & action’. Whilst Google’s mission continues to be to ’organise the world’s information and make it more accessible’; they now describe themselves as an AI company. In fact, ‘AI is the ultimate version of Google’ according to Larry Page.

Research conducted by Google in Q1, identified the following needs behind search, which accounts for the continuous increase in new search terms (81% of searches every month are new):

  • 20% of users researched a product or service
  • 16% are trying to answer a specific question
  • 15% are finding out more about world events
  • 12% are researching a place or location
  • 11% are trying to discover something new
  • 11% are exploring how to do something
  • 6% are staying connected to people
  • 5% are getting help to get somewhere

Behzadi helps put the AI opportunity into context using mobile as the vehicle. By 2020 there will be 5 billion global mobile users and the significant trends to drive growth are:

  1. Voice Search recognition error rate is now below 8%. Considerable improvement from 25%, two years ago.
  2. Usage of messaging apps are outpacing social media app usage for time spent by consumers
  3. The Increase in devices such as Wearables and home. For Google, the 2016 launches of Google Allo, Google Pixel and Google Home, represent their commitment to AI.

Behzadi managed to give a faultless live demo of Google Assistant, which in itself is a pretty impressive feat! He even managed to get it to work with background noise. Whilst the results of the conversation with Assistant demonstrated value for the user, the nagging question about how brands can play a role in this context, is not yet clear.

Google’s Matt Bush offers three ways that brands can gain competitive advantage by getting into this relationship;

  1. Google’s free tools, such as page speed. Mobile pages that are 1 second faster experience up to a 27% higher Conversion rate (Source: SOasta).
  2. Universal app campaigns to promote app downloads and engagement.
  3. Training & education to address the skills gap in this area.

iProspect’s Caroline Reynolds offers insight that whilst brands are well versed in marketing to consumer intent, they need to think about marketing to the Assistant.

As a starting point, understand the context in which your brand appears and the variables to consider. For example;

  • At which stage of the consumer journey / funnel does your brand have genuine relevance to solve a user query? A SQR will be useful.
  • Previous interaction with the brand (e.g. have they reviewed on Google maps). Update Google My Business.
  • Are they inside the home or on the high street? Isolate the use of ‘Near me’ in any queries.

There are practical sources to help understand the context and variables and to begin to address the technology requirements, but not for the faint hearted;

  1. Cortana Skills Kit: Connect users to skills when users ask, and proactively present skills to users in the appropriate context. Personalize their users' experiences by leveraging Cortana’s understanding of users' preferences and context, based on user permissions.
  1. Google Conversation actions: Conversation Actions help you fulfil user requests by letting you have a two-way dialogue with users. When users request an action, the Google Assistant processes this request, determines the best action to invoke, and invokes your Conversation Action if relevant. From there, your action manages the rest, including how users are greeted, how to fulfill the user's request, and how the conversation ends.
  1. Siri Kit: SiriKit comprises two frameworks, which you use to implement app extensions. The Intents framework supports the fundamental communication between your app and the system. You use that framework to define the types of tasks you can perform and to handle those tasks when asked to do so. The Intents UI framework provides optional support for presenting a custom interface when one of your tasks is performed on an iOS device.

It was actually the Bing event the following day, which helps place AI and the potential competitive advantage available for brands, into perspective; ‘Organisational change is required, for a brand to use data properly.’