Last week Gilbane Advisor held its fourteenth annual Digital Content Conference where marketing and technology strategists, analysts, investors, managers, and innovators engaged in a variety of panels and break-out sessions on how to provide a competitive digital experience through thoughtful content. However, “thoughtful” might not be the first word to come to mind when today’s consumer thinks about the content they receive across the digital ecosystem.
Many brands have become accustomed to haphazardly pushing out content like robots simply because they can with all of the increasingly automated marketing tools and processes at their disposal. While advances in advertising technology driven by artificial intelligence and big data have created incredible opportunities for brands to scale and refine their digital strategies, marketers and technologists alike need to work together to leverage the power of automation to generate truly thoughtful content that’s intuitive, adaptive, and personal to its users.
This process of bridging the age of information and the age of the consumer can be daunting, but there were three presentations at Gilbane that gave great insight into what tools today’s digital marketer can turn towards to provide their audiences with valuable content while also maximizing ROC (Return on Content).
1. Emotional AI
Gabi Zijderveld, CMO of Affectiva, an emotional recognition technology company, kicked off Gilbane with her presentation on how to create deeper connections with customers through AI. In a world where advanced AI systems are “designed to be contextual and relational, there’s massive cognitive abilities.” However, Zijderveld notes that most marketers only have access to software with a “High IQ, but no EQ.” This gap has lead to highly transactional and superficial digital interactions that often leave users feeling frustrated rather than empowered, because the content they engage with can’t intuit their wants and needs. Affectiva is confident that the gap can be closed.
With products like Affdex, a cloud-based solution that facially codes consumer’s emotional response to digital content, marketers can gather critical data that predicts success metrics such as purchase intent, brand recall, and thus influence future content creation. Fortune 100 brands and leading market research firms have tapped into emotional AI to optimize tag lines, story arches, and ultimately media spend, and are already seeing the returns. Ads with high emotion dynamics and low negative dynamics have been proven to be 4x more likely to lead to an increase in sales.
It’s by no means an easy journey, but as emotional AI continues to build momentum it will allow marketers to produce automated content that’s intuitive and relatable to users. To date, Affectiva has analyzed 2 billion facial frames, but as an industry we’ve just barely even scratched the surface. Personal analytics, such as cognitive state, age, ethnicity, and gender are also starting to be captured to target dynamic content in real-time. Zijerveld concluded the presentation by reminding the audience that, “we all have emotional passports” and that the digital world that we interact will not only be able to travel with us across geographic regions, but with our feelings anticipating our needs throughout our daily journeys and helping smooth out bumps in the road.
2. Adaptive Content
Adaptive Content, also referred to as smart content, is often associated with the ease in which a piece of content transfers across different devices. However, there’s much more to this content than mobile-optimized webpages and email subject lines featuring users’ names. Juhee Garg, Senior Product Manager at Adobe, gave an in-depth overview of how digital content has evolved since the advent of the web to today’s constantly expanding digital ecosystem, where immersive and nimble content isn’t just preferred by consumers, but expected.
At its core, smart content is created, planned, and developed around the context, mood, and goals of the customer. Powered by a concept known as Information 4.0, content is generated through a network of networks that allows for the dynamic, ubiquitous, and spontaneous exchange of molecular data to offer relevant content to individual user profiles. The most defining aspect of adaptive content is its semantic richness. Embedded intelligence within a landing page, a mobile app, or any other digital environment can adjust fields within a piece of content so that it’s contextually relevant. For example, if a user is visiting a product info page on a site for the tenth time, adaptive content can identify the devices from which the user has accessed the content, how long the user interacted with specific areas of the page and then customize the heading, creative, and copy of the product page appropriately to leave the user with the most relevant information to close the purchase. This is the number one benefit of adaptive content; marketers create a piece of content once and can deploy it everywhere, achieving both reach and relevancy.
3. Proprietary Programmatic
The most impactful presentation of the conference was a panel that managed to tie together all of the key components for implementing a truly thoughtful digital content strategy. Digilant’s Global CEO, Alan Osetek, alongside Global Head of Digital Marketing at Kaspersky Labs, Tom Hubbard, and Founder of Martekrs, Colin White, discussed how marketers can best leverage their data and proprietary programmatic tactics to drive a personalized digital strategy.
Moderator and Executive Director of East Coast Catalyst, Tim Bourgeois, kicked off the discussion by asking each panelist what programmatic means to them. Tom began saying, “I define it in a much broader terms. Many people equate it with media, but I think it can be summed up as the automation of marketing decisions. One of the most exciting things for me is seeing how AI will change programmatic.” Colin saw proprietary programmatic as an opportunity to help flip the marketing funnel for the brands he works for that are looking to approach their marketing from an account level, putting out the most relevant content to leads that are most likely to convert. Lastly, Alan defined it as, “The ability to buy media in a one-to-one, real-time, and always-on fashion.”
Although automation tools like emotional AI and adaptive content can create an extremely personal digital experience, they’re still evolving and not completely scalable without an effective and customized delivery strategy. That’s where programmatic ad buying implemented by an experienced partner like Digilant, with access to inventory across a number of advanced platforms and a talented team of analysts, comes in to help marketers and media buyers get the most out of their ad content and media spend.
As a marketing executive with limited resources, Colin remarked that, “With the convergence of platforms, instead of doing just A/B testing on a landing page, we can do multivariable testing across all different platforms. As a small marketing organization, we can’t really do that manually. Prior to programmatic, you might’ve been limited to only a few tests.” The level of customization and experimentation available through proprietary programmatic has lead businesses of all sizes and verticals to find solutions that reach digital consumers with personally relevant content through automation.
Upon leaving Gilbane’s Digital Content Conference it was clear that despite how essential digital content is to engaging and converting users, if the way in which that content is created, adapted, and delivered isn’t valuable to the people consuming it, then it’s of no value to today’s digital marketer either. I’m excited to keep up with these innovations in content marketing and how they can create more personal digital experiences for advertisers and their audiences.
For more information on Gilbane and to see presentations from this year’s conference, click here.