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5 Ways You Can Use Personal Assistants To Reach Your Audience in 2016

Artificial Intelligence: the art of making computers that behave like the ones in movies. -- Bill Bulko

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is here.

There is no doubt that 2016 will be the breakthrough year of artificial intelligence marketing (AIM). AIM is a thing. You heard it here first.

AI is still in its relative early adaptions, with many asking questions on its use on really helping users to do more. For users, it is more a practical switch from a text box to a relevant personal assistant. For the digital industry in 2016, the next step for marketers is to take advantage of new forms of intelligent services and platforms. AI represents a great opportunity for marketers to differentiate their brands and campaigns against the plethora of competing attention seeking experiences.

So how do you define these services? AI anticipates to be the central lens that users will explore the digital universe. To use the language of the sensory, AI will enhance the ability for users to hear, to speak, and to touch. For the current personal assistant services such as Google Now and Apple’s Siri, this is mainly a personal assistant organising information through voice commands. For these services, AI will be at the core as it innately understands the users.

Originally, search engines have been providing an index to the real world. Over time we have seen investments such as speech recognition, language and entity extensions that enable people to be more productive. Today, you can no longer think of search as a textbox with list of links. It’s just no longer sufficient in the infinite data and upgraded devices world we live in today. With new inputs, different modalities and signals (voice, context, gestures and location) users can map better intent. For Microsoft, we have moved beyond the search box ( to a platform of services provided to users, giving them the knowledge and intelligence fabric that assists productivity. Bing acts as a platform for people, for example processing events and delivering contextual information in real time (view this in action here). With the help of personal assistants (such as Cortana) we can further help users be more productive and aid them further discover and understand their world.


For marketers hoping to utilise the evolution of the search platform and expand further into AIM, it is important to remember to generate continual brand engagement across digital experiences. As users continual switch between contexts, AI will understand the computing needs of the user and will integrate across all devices.

Using the example for Cortana with Bing, it will be about anticipating brand recommendations based on past searches. To make the most out of voice searches, it will be important to utilise the below across your campaigns:

1. Optimise Voice Searches:

For marketers wanting to explore how to utilise the speech searches with personal assistants, there are a few ways that you can engage users to drive rich experiences. With AI, search is a ubiquitous service, not limited to a search engine results page (SERP). Spend time analysing longer phrases and long tail searches to find correlations on user intent for integrated searches. With a personal assistant, asking for help will often land with phrases that you can utilise.

2. Understand Context:

Review your keyword portfolio with contextual terms (who, what, when, where and how) and integrative terms that lead to personalised experiences. For my clients, we are largely focusing on providing amazingly personalised experiences with highly curated content whilst premediating the behaviour of users based on contextual events such as date and seasonal events. Understanding how the personal assistant is suggesting your message to your audience is essential: e.g: “help me find Christmas gift ideas?” on the Windows 10 Cortana leads to a series of options for Sydney experiences.

Tune into Location Targeting:

Many consumers today opt into location services as part of a platform experience. If your organisation has a physical dimension, Bing places and Sitelinks Extensions for physical stores on for mobile queries are crucial for giving your searches are quality experience. Utilise research to understand where your audience is located and what device they chose is essential.

4. Grow Your Brand:

Continue to build your brand on search and bid on your brand terms. If utilising Cortana’s or Google’s service connect your searches to other applications relevant to your brand.  AI services will scan the contents of your brand’s app (in a store or online) and find relevant information without the users having to copy and paste things between apps to do a search.

5. Understand the Conversion Funnel

It will never change, but understanding the process a person making a decision to do business with you. People are always looking for things: places, people, products and facts and this will differ from vertical and industry. In a digital world, organisations can use AIM to engage a user at their fingertips or even help them complete a thought or sentence. Retargeting and understanding your audience during the conversion process will only evolve over the next few years.

For marketers, it’s no longer about a search box but search as a platform. The best organisations who have the best understanding of who their audiences and deliver content that are personal, relevant and helpful will be the ones who succeed. With Cortana, there will be more and more signals that provide a better opportunity to understand the user. For Microsoft, it’s about creating experiences that put people in the centre and help them to do more.

It’s an exciting time to be in the digital industry. New inputs and new data sets will give everyone the potential to connect with their customers in a way that matters. For marketers in 2016, it will be about reaching your audience in a more personal and relevant way.