The age of Artificial Intelligence is here and it’s powering up the simplest things in our daily lives. In a nutshell, Machine Learning is the science of giving computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Kinda like showing it pictures of kittens until it creates enough patterns to identify another kitten by itself from new images. It’s very similar to how our human brains learn while we are kids. A few companies already have this type of technology running (and evolving by the second), like Facebook and Google. Every day we input more and more content online as check-ins at favourite restaurants, search queries for hotels for our next vacation, pictures with friends and peers. The list goes on.
Big Brother is watching and he can help sell your stuff
This is a bit of a futurology exercise, I know. But don’t get it confused with any supernatural nonsensery, I’m certainly not writing this article on an Ouija board. It’s pure (computer) science that you don’t have to understand completely, just harvest its potential.
Taking advantage of the massive quantity of data stored online is incredibly useful to pinpoint your target audience, facilitating conversions. Because we blindly “agreed to the terms and conditions” of most online services, social media platforms can freely record information and trace it back to your profile for future use. In a world where virtually everyone is connected 24/7, this is actually a cool thing from the marketing perspective (if you ignore the obvious user privacy issues of having every move tracked online).
Ever noticed how Facebook shows (mostly) spot on sponsored content on your timeline? By analysing everything you like and share, Facebook creates a detailed persona of each user to target ads in the best way possible. And it’s not only what you do on the platform, they can track your footprint in other websites thanks to their Facebook Pixel.
Machine Learning helps predict your client’s future actions
As you probably know, we humans are creatures of habit, which makes recording our behaviour a simple task to the machines. Knowing that, Amazon and Netflix have mastered how to give the best “related products” suggestions you can find online. Their state of the art database is taking advantage of Machine Learning to predict your next clicks offering highly tailored content. Forget one-size-fits-all. To thrive in the current market, companies must pay attention to User Experience like never before.
A simpler (and free) way to implement something a lot less fancy as that is two tools called Content Analytics and Heat Maps, both part of the SumoMe suite. They record data of how far down your readers are getting in your articles and what links are generating more clicks on your pages. With this information, you can do very good educated guesses regarding what’s working and what to change on your website. This is not the “machine learning” approach, but I felt it was worth mentioning.
Forget that “beep-boop” bullsh*t R2-D2 has been feeding us for decades
Artificial Intelligence is also being used to write texts without human supervision. For example, the biggest Wikipedia contributor, Sverker Johansson, with more than 2.7 million articles published, is actually using a bot called Lsjbot to create all content.
If you think it would be obvious to differentiate between human or computer generated articles, think again. According to a study from Karlstad University, Sweden, “the readers are not able to discern automated content from content written by a human“. The researchers used two sports articles (these tend to be more factual and analytical) one written by a journalist and another by a software previously called Statsheet (now called Wordsmith). Big media outlets as Los Angeles Times and Forbes already use similar technology as a base for some articles, with humans later improving the content before they hit publish.
And what if I told you that the previous paragraph wasn’t actually written by me, but by software?
Well, I would be lying.
But for one second you actually thought about the possibility, right? Welcome to the future.
Get creative, experiment, innovate
And how can you take advantage of this in your business? There are a few services (like the IBM Watson) that offer the power of “computer minds” to businesses.
One experiment that I believe is worth the try is applying “robot talk” to your images SEO. Using a free tool like Microsoft’s CaptionBot you can let their machines determine the Alt tag for your image in your website. With Google giving more autonomy to RankBrain and relying more upon machine learning to deliver the best search results, it’s not about how you describe an image anymore. It’s how the machines see it.