The Age of Intelligent Brands

The Age of Intelligent Brands
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By Nikos Acuña, Managing Director at Rocket Fuel Institute (now part of Sizmek)

This is the best time in human history to be a consumer. From stumbling upon new shows via Netflix’ recommendation engine, exploring virtual worlds through Oculus, getting to where you need to go faster without looking at a map, or having pressing questions answered by an autonomous assistant — these solutions are most likely powered by cognitive platforms; systems that can learn, adapt and optimize outcomes in real time. Even more mundane tasks like visiting the doctor and driving cars incorporate predictive technology powered by artificial intelligence (AI)–and they’re transforming the way we discover our world and interact with each other.

All these changes swirling around us also make it a remarkable time to be a marketer. Brands need adaptive solutions to prepare them for a more intelligent and connected future. Brands that embrace tools that openly connect them to consumers and other ecosystems will have more control, deliver more innovative solutions and continue to achieve the best results. Intelligent brands put both data and decisioning in their hands in order to contribute to the process of building products that consumers want.

Brands that understand the power of AI in driving efficiencies, achieving insights, and enhancing experiences will win.

Brands of the future will be living services

The trillions of digital interactions captured daily require powerful systems to detect patterns that we decipher as meaningful insights. These insights help us build solutions that accelerate progress. Solutions that improve our quality of life inherently improve the way we perceive the world. This enables completely personalized experiences that the Fjord design strategy agency calls Living Services.

Living Services are the result of two powerful forces: the digitization of everything and ‘liquid’ consumer expectations. Living Services respond by wrapping around us, constantly learning more about our needs, intents and preferences, so that they can flex and adapt to make themselves more relevant, engaging and useful. Consumers demand this, as best-of-breed companies in all sectors constantly raise the bar for experiences—hence liquid expectations. In this context, brands are sensing, thinking, and behaving entities in which the connections they make with customers causes a compounding effect that amplifies their brand message–for better or worse.

Brands will need to move away from using walled gardens

The rise of Google, Amazon and Facebook have brought us into The Age of Platforms, delivering a wave of innovations like no other time in history and creating tremendous value for both consumers and marketers. Unfortunately, those same companies are now doing marketers a disservice by limiting access to their own data and eliminating opportunities for brands to create value with audience intelligence. Brands increasingly need data to thrive in a connected era, to personalize experiences. Data is, after all, the new currency. And as individual devices become sensing, thinking, and acting entities, putting data at the center of your strategy is more critical than ever before.

By their own nature, walled garden are a barrier to connectedness and openness. They create artificial decisions that span targeting, measurement and optimization. That’s because the technologies that facilitate those critical functions cannot cross those “walls.” These data lifelines are the backbone to effective advertising. As a result, consumers, marketers and agencies are all negatively affected.

Consumers suffer because stale, immovable data can inhibit relevant advertising and experiences that anticipate their needs. This forces marketing and advertising to use repetition in the absence of relevance. This same issue presents obvious challenges for marketers. If the only technologies and techniques are the same ones available to everyone else while limited to only the publisher’s ecosystem, innovation is stifled.

Brands need to build open connected ecosystems

In an era of exponential change, connected experience and artificial intelligence, marketers can now create deeper connections with the consumers they care about the most. Doing this means uncovering meaningful behavior patterns to more accurately predict moments of consumer receptivity. It also means understanding business performance and optimizing consumer experiences.

The idea of the open, connected ecosystem enables brands to do more, which in turn gives agencies more to do as well. It allows companies to innovate on their products, discover more insights, get more results, have access to more tools, and impact more consumers. Advertisers and brands should have full access to all their data, rather than just some of it. Decisioning should happen with the advertiser and not with the publisher. Openness drives growth and innovation.

Connected platforms power the future of brands

Intelligent marketing stacks will soon be the standard, empowering marketers to deliver transformative predictive advertising. The orchestration of media is critical, but marketers of the future will look beyond simplifying workflow to extracting insight, creating knowledge and modeling customer journeys. A new creative process will be seamlessly integrated with media procurement, and will inform each other as new data is captured across intelligent devices that connect with one another. The data that can be accessed will compound exponentially through these connections, creating feedback loops that resemble the brain and body of a brand that extends across any touchpoint in which a customer interacts with it.

In aggregate, these connections will reveal something unique about the customers brands value the most. The data will tell the story that reveals what drives an individual’s behaviors or overall personal outlook. The marketing platform of the future should reveal these connections at scale, so that marketers can understand their customers like never before.

Brands that understand the power of AI in driving efficiencies, achieving insights, and enhancing experiences will win. The key is to leverage AI-powered systems that are proven, adaptive, and empowering for marketers so they can not only work smarter and more efficiently–but also so they can access hidden features that are predictive of future outcomes.

To do this, brands need an AI-for-marketing solution that provides a single powerful stack for:

  • data integration, activation, and discovery
  • seamless media execution,
  • and adaptive creative personalization.

Brands need to build intelligent marketing stacks

The stack of the future amplifies intelligence, and allows marketers to be more creative and dynamic than ever before. Data-driven creative powered by AI is the next generation of personalization. I call this deep personalization, and it provides intelligent consumer experiences by combining creative and contextual attributes with over a trillion ad server signals . This platform of the future discovers affinity toward a brand and products, and makes data actionable by revealing hidden connections that deliver more relevant, more engaging, individualized branded experiences.

Companies have access to data and countless platforms that can structure disparate information, but the key lies in the ability to capture the best quality data across the broadest swath of potential signals in order to understand the hidden features that reveal the true connective tissue between brand and customer. What makes one customer become a frequent purchaser? Is it just making a moment more meaningful? Is it the tried and true vision of right time, right context, right message? Indeed–but these are just table stakes in this new era of adaptive intelligence and connected experiences.

Intelligent brands will need to redefine the very essence of marketing, which will no longer be about producing products then spending trillions on driving demand. The future of marketing will be an open conversation about leveraging data more meaningfully to build products and engage in conversations that consumers want and value.

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