Marketing Artificial Intelligence to the Masses

Artificial Intelligence MarketingArtificial intelligence (AI) has been increasingly making headlines recently, although few may be aware of it. The most recent of these was with the announcement of Amazon Go, a concept store in Seattle that is powered by machine learning and AI. Many of us now carry an AI device in our pockets, work with AI on our PCs and even have AI sitting in our living rooms. But randomly ask someone on the street what AI means to them and they’re likely to mention robots, and not the technology we use in our daily lives.

How to Market Artificial Intelligence to Consumers

Current Awareness of Artificial Intelligence

Less than 20% of consumers feel that they know a lot about AI, with this stat rising to almost 50% when asked if they know a little. What’s clear is that mainstream awareness of AI is still limited, so you need to keep this in mind when talking about it. As analyst Carolina Milanesi has previously mentioned, “2016 was the year about raising awareness, and exposing consumers to the idea of AI in a more mass market way.” then do the tech giants tackle the general unfamiliarity surrounding AI when marketing their AI-driven products?

When speaking about the tech working behind the scenes in Amazon Go, Amazon doesn’t really mention AI that often. Instead, it focuses on drawing analogies to other AI in use – self-driving cars for instance. Using an example that consumers are likely to have heard of before is an interesting tactic, as is Amazon’s other technique: video.

Techniques to Introduce Artificial Intelligence

Consumers have previously reported that they felt hands-on experience or expert reviews were the most credible sources of information on AI. Providing unboxing or instructional videos so customers can imagine using your product can therefore be an effective way of gaining their business. Amazon does this to great effect with a walk through of the Amazon Go store, and in its ads for Amazon Echo.

Another technique companies employ (including Amazon and Google) is to use simplistic product names for their AI. Amazon uses Just Walk Out Technology to power Amazon Go and Google has the does-what-it-says-on-the-box Google Assistant. Sometimes it pays to state the obvious.

Apple and Microsoft have used a different tactic to name their AI. They use almost human-esque names, perhaps with the goal to get us to connect with the AI on a more human level.

To interact with Siri and Cortana we have to explicitly call them by name. At the same time, Microsoft and Apple encourage you to say “Hey!” to their assistants, while Google goes for the more formal “OK, Google” and encourages you to tweet #OKGoogle whenever mentioning the tech.

Talk About AI Over Various Channels

The techniques that the tech giants use don’t just apply to their websites or advertising – it carries across to other channels as well. In short and simple tweets Apple explains how you can use Siri for different tasks, usually using imagery to show each step. Check out Amazon Echo’s Twitter and you’ll be prompted to “Just ask” Alexa to do something. The key lesson here is to carry your conversations about your technology across multiple channels, constantly using different mediums to educate and inspire your customers.

Yes, It’s Complex, but Keep It Simple!

Ultimately, when it comes to marketing something as complex as AI, simplicity is an essential ingredient. Keep things easy to understand and help your customers imagine using your product in their everyday lives. You don’t just have to use words, videos and other imagery also help consumers relate with complicated technology. It may be tempting to try to be clever when marketing AI, but as Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

Do you have any AI products you are marketing? Have you used any of these techniques? Tell us your experience in the comments below.

Guy Marson

Guy Marson is co-founder of Profusion, a data science and intelligence marketing company and is passionate about creating and using cutting-edge techniques to improve digital marketing.

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Guy Marson