October 23, 2017

Curious Season 6: The Role of AI for brands

This Thursday marks the third instalment of our new Curious Season “Rise of the Machines”, when we’ll be joined by speakers from O2, EasyJet and Crowd Emotion to gain an insight into how artificial intelligence is becoming a core part of today’s business strategy. To whet your appetite ahead of the main event, this blog takes a look at some of the ways in which various other brands have been experimenting with AI and how it’s successfully reinvigorated their traditional product offering.

The Smart Blue Box

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Earlier this year the United States Postal Service revealed their latest development in AI technology, the Smart Blue Box. Capable of weighing packages, calculating postage and finding the closest open post-office, the humble post box has been reimagined as a powerful information centre. While the concept is currently only being trialled, the ultimate ambition would be to one day have AI enabled assistants installed on every one of the iconic blue collection boxes across the United States.

Innovations such as the Smart Blue Box exemplify a movement away from artificial intelligence being just another marketing gimmick, and a shift towards the creation of truly transformative products for brands as well as customers. Our days of waiting in endless lines at the post-office could thankfully be numbered.

Under Armour – Record

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While the fitness industry was one of the first sectors to harness the mainstream promise of artificial intelligence, the technology has now evolved from mere stats reportage to delivering bespoke workout recommendations. Under Armour have teamed up with IBM’s Watson supercomputer to produce an all-encompassing 24/7 fitness tracker called ‘Record’. Watson’s cognitive computing technology analyses an individual’s daily activity, their sleep patterns, and the food data they share whilst also comparing the individual with other (anonymous) members of the Under Armour community. Ultimately, by using the app, people are able to seek fitness advice and coaching without visiting a gym or having to pay the premium price for a personal trainer. However, there’s still a good chance you might ultimately be advised to visit a gym…

ASOS Visual Search

ASOS visual search

In August of this year ASOS introduced a visual search tool to their popular app. The new addition means that users can submit a picture of a style they like and the technology then sets to work identifying the products shape, colour, and pattern. It then cross-references this info against ASOS’s existing inventory to produce a tailored set of results that will give the closest possible match to what it thinks you’re looking for. The development is significant in that it has the potential to significantly reduce the ‘discovery’ phase in the customer journey, accelerating you on the path to purchase.

While the efficiency and efficacy pros of AI are clear to see from the above examples there remains an understandable concern on the part of consumers over how their data is being stored and leveraged by brands for marketing purposes.  The imminent launch of the iPhone X next week (with its much-vaunted facial recognition capabilities) will likely offers further opportunities for greater marketing precision in the near future. While Apple have maintained that facial data will remain on the phone, and not on their cloud, it’s probably advisable to watch this space for any updates to their terms of service – particularly if potential advances in DOOH lead to a reliable capacity to retarget passers-by based on facial recognition.

Want to learn more? Join us in reception at 9am on Thursday 26th October to get the inside track on how some of Britain’s biggest brands are embracing the AI revolution. Until then, stay curious!

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