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Published on February 4th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise


How Marketers are Increasingly Using A.I. to Persuade You to Buy

Emergent Insight:
The next time you buy something online, doublecheck and make sure you were not cleverly persuaded by targeted marketing. That marketing is most likely fueled by artificial intelligence as David Z. Morris tells us at Forbes on the growing use of AI in marketing strategies and campaigns. As the article discusses, there are ethical concerns when using AI to persuade consumers to spend money. Is the technology taking advantage of users and making them spend money they don’t have? It’s just another reminder for us to use good discernment when shopping online and make all purchases assuredly our own.

Original Article:
Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

Assaf Baciu, co-founder of Persado, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help companies write ads, turns his back to me.

“If I’m not paying attention to your reactions,” he says. “It’s as if I’m not listening to you. That wouldn’t be very human, would it?”

Baciu’s point is that truly human marketing means constantly listening to what individual consumers really want, and appealing to their desires. But using actual humans to do that would be far too expensive.

His company creates software that helps advertisers listen to their millions of customers, and evaluate whether those customers pay attention to and are persuaded by the marketing they see. The technology identifies what tactics work best for particular kinds of consumers, then suggests messaging tailored for them.

Persado’s work is helping to give rise to data-driven advertising, and the increasing use of artificial intelligence to help make it more effective. Marketers hope that technology like Persado’s can push the trend further by taking the guesswork out of ad writing, a task that still relies largely on the instincts of mere humans.

Although data-driven targeting has revolutionized advertising, there is growing concern about its social and psychological impacts. It also faces growing criticism of its privacy implications, earning it the ignominious distinction of being lumped in with what is increasingly called “surveillance capitalism.”

Since its founding in 2012, Persado’s clients have included the likes of Dell, Staples, and American Express. In July, Persado announced a five-year deal with J.P. Morgan Chase to improve both its advertising and its automated customer service ‘chatbots.’

Persado has a lot of competition in the automated ad copywriting field. Other startups with a similar focus include Motiva AI and Phrasee.

A.I.-driven copywriting leverages the same combination of user data and machine learning that Facebook and Google use to deliver individually-targeted ads. But unlike the tech giants and their fondness for constant surveillance, Persado says its tool doesn’t actively track or profile individual users. Instead, it uses broad demographic data and ad-performance results from clients to guide its ad-polishing machines, while delivering ads to viewers is left to each client.

But A.I. copywriting could be seen as amping up targeted advertising, and its pitfalls, to a new level. Instead of just delivering ads to the right people, Persado makes it possible for its clients to tailor ads themselves in a highly individualized way.

And because the software is also highly automated, it can be a good listener – and therefore very persuasive – at a massive scale.

The influence machine

Persado is not quite ready to replace ad copywriters wholesale – the software creates and tests variations of existing ads, rather than creating them from scratch. “There’s no machine that writes on its own,” says Baciu. “It all comes from humans, originally.”

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