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Retail Media Summit: Day 2 Keynote Centers on AI

At the Path to Purchase Institute event in Chicago, Mitch Duckler explained how AI is transforming the nature of marketing and brand-building.
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Mitch Duckler

Mitch Duckler, managing partner at FullSurge, a brand strategy and marketing consultancy, brought audience members into the world of artificial intelligence on Thursday morning during his day two keynote at the Retail Media Summit.

At the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Duckler explained how AI is transforming the nature of marketing and brand-building. His presentation showed how marketers can leverage AI to tailor brand experiences in ways that are more customized and relevant than before. “Marketing is changing almost as rapidly as it was 25 years ago at the dawn of the age of the internet,” he said.

The most common use cases for AI, according to Duckler, are to micro-segment audiences and hyper-personalize messaging. “With the abundance of first- and zero-party data, and the enormous computing power of artificial intelligence, we are beginning to approach one-to-one marketing through micro-segmentation,” he said. “Virtually every element of the marketing mix is up for grabs and can be personalized based upon this new technology.”

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Duckler encouraged attendees to think about the customer journey in three phases: pre-purchase, during purchase, and post-purchase.

He broke down “pre-purchase” into three areas where AI can have impact:

  • Content marketing: versioning, newsletters and social media.
  • Dynamic websites: home pages, category pages, product pages, shopping carts and content/blogs.
  • Real-time targeting: zero- and first-party data, situational/geofencing and contextual variables.

He broke down “during purchase” to:

  • Product recommendations.
  • Personal shoppers: mobile shopping assistants, AI-generated models and AI hotel concierges.
  • Dynamic pricing: both supply-driven and demand-driven.

And, his “post-purchase” areas comprised:

  • Message bots: store apps, social media and messaging apps.
  • Loyalty programs: personalized rewards.
  • Gamificiation: optimize for product trial, cross-sell and sales/ROI.

Duckler then discussed the obstacles and barriers affecting AI. They were data integrity (“AI is only as good as the data informing it”), unconscious bias (the human component in algorithms) and brand fit. Explaining the latter, he said, “We have to be very careful that anything we do is consistent with the brand positioning. It's very easy to let intellect AI take over. And if your brand filters aren't in place or there isn't human oversight, you do run the risk of doing something that may make sense from an artificial intelligence perspective, and it makes sense even in the short term from a business perspective, but it's not in the best interest of your long-term brand equity.”

As for best practices for implementing AI, Duckler said it’s important to start with clear objectives, choose the right tools and platforms, implement AI incrementally, enhance customer insights and monitor/manage performance — course-correcting as necessary.

“There are so many potential applications of artificial intelligence, it’s daunting even where to begin,” he said. “What they encourage is for you to think about the areas where you have the biggest gaps in your business — with your brand, with your customer experience.”

Going beyond AI, Duckler also explored how virtual reality and augmented reality are impacting things, as well as blockchain technology. “Blockchain has the potential to be every bit as impactful as AI; it’s just behind right now,” he said.

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