Consumers Welcome AI But Still Want Emotional Support, Study Says

Implementing AI like chatbots has allowed brands to meet the impulsive needs of today’s young consumers. A new report by Invoca found that while these consumers find chatbots less frustrating than human interaction, a strong emotional quotient (EQ) is still needed, especially during stressful purchase decisions.

Emotions Win: What Customers Expect in the Age of AI” compiles responses from 1,000 US adults to examine the importance of EQ on customer experience.

Nearly all respondents (90 percent) named problem-solving as an important or very important characteristic of brand interactions. Having an even temper and empathy were also valued at 84 and 77 percent, respectively.

That being said, 80 percent of all respondents said that in-person human representatives provide the best EQ, compared to chatbots at 22 percent. Consumers under the age of 35 have stronger faith in the future of AI emotions, with a little more than half believing AI will gain EQ within the next five years.

Expectations that a brand should provide personal service increase with age, the study found, with 64 percent of Gen Z respondents believing this, compared to 86 percent of those aged 65+. Personal service doesn’t necessarily mean interacting with a human being, however. Around half of every age group preferred to interact with a machine over a person. In addition, only 43 percent of consumers under the age of 35 said they would find AI experiences less frustrating.

Women are more hesitant to hand their emotional decisions over to a machine, with 65 percent believing AI would make experiences less personal compared to 56 percent of men.

“While AI plays an important role in the customer journey, consumers don’t want AI to replace human interactions—they want human connection,” said Julia Stead, VP of marketing at Invoca in the report. “The future should involve a combination of automation, AI, and humans working together to deliver emotionally intelligent customer experiences.”

When asked about the EQ of specific industries, respondents named “travel” as the best in terms of efficient interaction and personalization, but lowest in terms of empathy and having an even temper. This may have a correlation between emotions and travel decisions. A little over half—53 percent—said that travel purchases are somewhat or extremely stressful.

Healthcare companies meet consumers’ emotional needs most of the time, respondents claim, especially during in-person interactions. In fact, all industries named in the study—healthcare, home services, finance, insurance, telecoms and travel—scored better with in-person than chat.

The study confirms what many brands already know—that Gen Z and millennials often prefer automated services to human interaction. Invoca points out that young consumers aren’t necessarily opposed to speaking on the phone, but may be unsatisfied with the experience when they do.

“There’s a huge opportunity for all brands to deliver not only the right information over the phone but also the appropriate level of empathy,” wrote Julia Seed, vice president of marketing at Invoca.

Advertising Week: Anheuser Busch InBev Shares Its Blockchain Experience

During Advertising Week New York, blockchain was one of many hot topics that attracted marketers to panels. One panel called “Blockchain and Advertising: How the Revolution Begins” featured Anheuser Busch InBev speaking about a recent campaign and its results.

Anheuser Busch InBev director of programmatic marketing, Laurel Van Tassel told the audience that the brand has taken a recent interest in blockchain, “dipping its toe” into the tech waters with a campaign that ran this summer.

Partnering with Kiip, a blockchain platform known for its rewarded ads inside mobile games, Van Tassel and her team launched a series of personalized ads that were triggered during key moments throughout a consumer’s time on mobile such as interacting with a particular kind of app.

Moment-based targeting, Van Tassel explained, can be broken out into different buckets.

When someone had a fitness moment, they were served an ad from Michelob Ultra. Bud Light ads were served to mobile users on social and sports, while Budweiser catered to both sports and food. Stella Artois targeted those exploring cultural content on their phones such as art, while Ritas was designed to tap into moments of music and activity on the weekend. Finally, Estrella Jalisco ads were timed with food and music activity.

The campaign resulted in 78 percent visibility—in terms of 50 percent of the ad visible—which exceeded all benchmarks. In addition, measurement was very close to existing DSPs like Adobe.

To gauge the success of the campaign, Anheuser Busch InBev compared measurement with other DSPs like Adobe. Blockchain also helped save ad dollars, as writing the ledger only cost two percent of the budget.

“I see blockchain as a place for more transparency,” said Van Tassel. “It might actually increase the  workload initially [as we’re figuring things out] but I think it will create a robust environment where everyone can see what’s going on in terms of media buys.”

Advertising Week: Adtech and Martech Are Coming Together At Last

Merging adtech and martech is a hot topic at Advertising Week New York 2018 as brands hope to eliminate silos and find a way to streamline the process. During a panel called “Adtech Meets Martech,” Nielsen, Microsoft and Outfront Media shared their hopes and concerns for an industry with plenty of data but not enough intercommunication.

CX begins at the first step of the customer journey, which is gained through adtech. Martech, on the other hand, covers retention through analytics and communication tools. The panel cited a statistic in which marketers use an average of 13 different systems to communicate with customers. Needless to say, marketers are looking for a way to consolidate data for better results.

The biggest hurdle marketers face in this task is siloed information, according to the Neilsen’s EVP Damian Garbaccio.

“We’re trying to say that it isn’t one or the other anymore,” said Garbaccio. “The silo is still an after effect of education in the organizations that use them—not coming together to use them properly. That takes time, but I do believe that’s coming together faster than it did say, two or three years ago.”

Chandra Stevens, Microsoft’s global director of cross-industry marketing solutions, added that silos occur because of a fear associated with the cost of bringing adtech and martech together. Doing so would solve a lot of personalization problems, however. Stevens added that with around 6,800 niche marketing technologies out there, her priority becomes scaling everything down to finding the right vendors for the right solutions. More companies, she noticed, are putting the consumer at the center of these efforts.

If adtech and martech do come together in harmony, the panelists imagined, marketers will be able to better understand customers on every step of the journey.

“A lot of folks in the media world have to bring their technologies up to par with where Google, Facebook and others are so we can start to compare media across a level playing field,” said Andy Sriubas, chief commercial officer of Outfront Media. “Then toolsets can be made that allow us to see across all those different value chains.”

As brand giants like Procter and Gamble demand more transparency, the need for adtech and martech convergence will become more urgent. If these two elements are brought together, everyone benefits, said Garbaccio. Today’s brands want to be more informed and are taking more services in-house to gain more control.

“Ultimately,” he said, “[bringing adtech and martech together] will lead to relevant advertising.”

It all comes down to customer experience and curating that will become easier when marketers are able to streamline their data resources.

“When the data sets allow us to bring the customer journey and the customer’s physical location journey, I think we’ll be able to bring a much bigger value chain down to a certain number of players and consolidation will help,” said Sriubas.

Sony Partnership Lets Viewers Shop Directly From Smart TVs

Sony smart TV viewers can now use their remote control, mobile device or voice commands to interact and purchase directly from the television.

Sony has partnered with Connekt to add t-commerce to its smart TVs and Blu-ray disc players. Viewers can shop products from “hundreds” of brands and retailers that include Macy’s, Best Buy and Fanatics, directly from the ShopTV app located in their smart TV’s app store. In the future, this partnership will expand to allow purchasing directly from a show broadcast and enable voice commands.

Unlike traditional commercials or banner ads, t-commerce (shopping through a smart TV) allows brands to reach audiences while they are already engaged.

According to Nielsen, a third of homes in the US own at least one internet-enabled TV. Homes with connected-TV devices skew younger (more than half are under the age of 45), more affluent and are more likely to have children. Adding T-Commerce to a smart TV would grant advertisers access to millions of homes without having to pick up a second device.

A recently published report by Connekt states that over 75 percent of consumers would buy products directly from their TV if given the opportunity. Of those, over 70 percent were interested in using their voice to purchase products through the television.

Since the launch of its ShopTV app, Connekt has partnered with LG, Sony, Hisense, Verizon and Roku, with plans to compile its own consumer data research. The brand partnered with Verance earlier this year to develop enhanced ads.

Other tech brands are investing in the idea of shopping directly from a TV screen. Samsung, for example, has been testing the t-commerce waters since October with its Checkout shopping portal. In Portugal, smart TV viewers can order sushi, pizza and wine through their screens, thanks to a partnership with local cloud-based platform yubuy.

Nielsen: OTT Subscriptions Driven By Familiar Content, Specific Shows

Nielsen has released its quarterly MediaTech Trender survey that tracks consumer perceptions of emerging devices and services. Among the findings, Nielsen reveals a close relationship between smart speakers and smartphones, as well as common motivations for streaming content.

The survey included Q1 responses from 2,000 US consumers aged 13 and above. Participants were asked about their relationship with technology in terms of preferences, motivations and habits.

Nielsen delivered some good news for social networks like Facebook and Twitter that have invested heavily in video. Over half of adult smartphone users said they viewed video from inside a social network site or app at least once a day, while just under half of tablet users said the same. These numbers jumped among younger adults between the ages of 18-34—72 percent said they watched video in this way on a smartphone and 57 percent on a tablet.

Streaming content is more readily viewed by all age groups if it hosts existing shows they’ve watched or listened to before. This is especially true among consumers between the ages of 18-34 (64 percent) and 35-49 (62 percent). Among persons aged 50-64, this behavior was only slightly less common at 59 percent.

That’s not to say that adults aren’t willing to explore new content. Just under half of all adults said they subscribing to video streaming services to gain access to video content they like and 42 percent said that they sign up for a specific program.

When it comes to smart speakers, non-white consumers are leading the way. Compared to the national average of 43 percent, Asian American, Black and Hispanic consumers have displayed more interest in using or subscribing to a streaming service at 55, 52 and 45 percent, respectively.

Consumers aren’t just buying one smart speaker, either. In fact, four out of 10 respondents own more than one, with the living room being the most popular location. These devices get put to work, with 90 percent of users saying they use smart speakers to listen to music at least once a week.

Just over half of consumers sync their smart speakers to a smartphone, with audio streaming and shopping apps being the most popular.

“Consumers are not only incredibly tech savvy—they’re voraciously plugged in,” says Peter Katsingris, SVP of audience insights at Nielsen. “With so many choices of media to consume and innovative products being introduced into the marketplace, gauging consumer sentiment towards them is crucial in understanding not only what’s ‘now’ but also what’s ‘next.’”

Report: PlayStation Tops Online/Offline Sentiment For Consumer Electronics

Engagement Labs has released its TotalSocial ranking of consumer electronics brands for 2018, revealing that PlayStation climbed to the number one spot for positive consumer conversations. Parent company Sony also made the top ten, rising five spots over last year.

Social conversations about a brand are vital for awareness and gauging sentiment. Engagement Labs found that nearly 30 percent of electronics purchases are explained by consumer conversations, and more than half of the impact comes from face-to-face and voice-to-voice conversation.

“It’s counter-intuitive but also true that offline conversation is extremely important to technology brands,” said Ed Keller, CEO of Engagement Labs.

In addition to a number of exclusive video game titles, PlayStation has benefited from conversations both online and off about Fortnite. Further buzz was generated by a PS4/Fortnite bundle kit released in August.

“In consumer electronics, social performance sometimes is driven by having the hottest or newest toy, as we are seeing with Playstation’s Fortnite game,” observed Keller. “But it also helps to have widespread adoption and use, which are key to the social success of Kindle, Samsung, and Bose.”

Kindle rose one spot from last year to take second place, followed by Samsung, which also rose one position. Bose rose five spots in the last six months and is now sitting pretty at number five, just under Apple. Following the release of its new noise-canceling headphones, Bose experienced a rise in both online and offline sentiment, along with online brand sharing on social media.

Apple tumbled out of the top spot to land at number four. Engagement Labs admits, however, that the company’s brands collectively dominate consumer conversation.

“If all of Apple’s brands were combined into a single score, the parent brand—which recently became the first publicly traded company to reach $1 trillion in value—would easily dominate the number one position,” says the report.

Nintendo didn’t fare as well in the last six months, dropping three spots to number 10 on the TotalSocial ranking. Engagement Labs attributed this to a lackluster E3 performance that took its toll on online and offline influence.

The biggest drop was experienced by Asus, however, plummeting 17 spots to number 22.

The top 10 TotalSocial Consumer Electronic Brands Are:

  • PlayStation
  • Kindle
  • Samsung
  • Apple
  • Bose
  • Xbox
  • Sony
  • Roku
  • Nintendo
  • LG

Soulmates.AI Releases Latest a.EMVI Monthly Report

Soulmates.AI proudly announces its latest a.EMVI (Earned Media Value Index) Monthly Report to help brands, agencies and others in the marketing industry see the latest trends in earned media value.

The a.EMVI takes on one of the most elusive questions of modern-day marketing: How valuable are my efforts on social media? Our Index is the industry standard for judging the earned media value of the likes, comments and shares from on social media platforms. The Index provides actual dollar values for interactions and engagements on social media, providing baselines value for the industry to use for comparison and reporting.

While these baseline values (based on our full cross-section of research) are available for each social media network, this month we are highlighting the financial industry and using our Vertical values, which are available as a premium. These values are based on isolated, industry-specific research to offer the most precise reporting available.

The monthly report spotlights the industry’s earned media frontrunners in total Earned Media Value. This invaluable tool gives a monetary value to the monthly efforts of earned media from these brands:

  • Prudential Financial leads by a far margin with $28,390.98
  • Citigroup comes next with their total value being at $12,680.99
  • JP Morgan follows up with $7,971.27
  • State Farm Insurance comes in closely behind with its value at $7187.56
  • The Travelers Companies completes the leaderboard with $4,581.22
  • The total earned media value of just the leaders $60,812.22

The report also provides a breakdown of which brands are the most influential on each major social platform.

  • Instagram has a for JP Morgan, which brings in $2,371.98
  • Facebook creates huge value for Prudential Financial, earning $9832.03
  • Twitter also shows how influential Prudential Financial is, reaching $18,547.51
  • YouTube provides a small but impactful platform for State Farm Insurance which is earning $524.08

The a.EMVI Monthly Report offers just a glimpse at the utility of the a.EMVI. For more details on using the a.EMVI to help track your social media and gain the exceptional insight it brings, sign up for our monthly newsletter so you won’t miss our trend reports.

To learn more about our methodology, check out our complimentary white paper here.

If you would like to bring the power of a.EMVI to your company or platform, contact us at: info@soulmates.ai to get a list of our dashboard and API options.

About Soulmates.AI:
A part of a.network, Soulmates.AI helps companies gain a deep and actionable understanding of social speech and expression so they can build relationships between creators, companies and consumers. We are scientists, technologists and marketers who want to fix advertising and make it truly beneficial for all. Learn more at: soulmates.ai.

Kayak Launches AR Bag Measurement Tool To Ease Travel Anxiety

Kayak is using augmented reality to help travelers measure their luggage. The new bag measurement tool will tell users whether a bag is likely a carry-on or if it should be checked.

Anyone who has been asked to check a bag after they already boarded a flight knows the pain and embarrassment of not having the right-sized luggage. Kayak is addressing this common problem with technology that adds novelty to the “carry it on vs. check it” deliberation.

“There are a lot of AR applications that are fun but this one was designed to be truly useful for travelers,” Kayak chief technology officer Giorgos Zacharia said in a press release.

Kayak’s new AR bag measurement tool, added on Tuesday, is currently available only to iOS users. It was developed during the company’s “SWAT Week,” an annual engineering competition that challenges employees to rapidly design and develop new ideas.

Users can access the tool from the Kayak mobile app. Once opened, users will be prompted to scan the floor to help calibrate measurements, then move the camera around the bag. The AR tool captures the bag’s exact measurements, then recommends whether it qualifies as a carry-on or not.

If the bag is deemed too large for a carry-on, the app automatically compares check baggage fee policies so users know what to expect.

The AR tool continues a trend of Kayak’s try-it-before-you-buy-it-with-technology strategy. In June, Kayak launched a VR app for Google Daydream that lets travelers “visit” a location before booking. The app launched with 360-degree views of Venice and Kathmandu, inviting users to explore the locations with onscreen information or an audio tour.

Kayak continues to invest in technology so it can stand out in the growing travel industry. The brand uses AI to assist its customers through Facebook Messenger, Google and Alexa and says it will continue to invest in a variety of technologies.

Casual Connect Asia 2018 Coming To The Greater Bay Area, Shenzhen, China This November

Casual Connect Asia 2018
Location: OCT Creative Exhibition Center (OCT Design Museum)
Date: Nov. 12-14, 2018
Attendees: 1,200 gaming professionals
Speakers: 150 executives and experts
Indie Prize Showcase: 120 games

Organized by CGA with the support of host partner iDreamSky, Casual Connect is coming to the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area China with its annual Asian event. At Casual Connect Asia 2018, you’ll have unlimited access to the meeting system to network with games industry professionals like yourself. All attendees get access to three days of lectures, official networking parties, and 120 of the world’s best indie games with developers. The venue will also feature a large expo area where you can talk one-on-one with industry-leading companies.

“China is now the world’s biggest game market. Being co-host of Casual Connect China, our intention is to build the bridge for the international game industry to learn more about Chinese culture and bring in more high-quality content for the Chinese market,” said Michael Chen, CEO of iDreamSky.

For Developers

More than 1,500 developers apply to Indie Prize during the year and judges from throughout the games industry select the most promising games to participate at international Indie Prize showcases during Casual Connect conferences. Submit your game for the international Indie Prize Asia 2018 scholarship program before Sep 10, more details are in the submission form. Join industry leaders as an established developer with developer showcase or support this great event as a sponsor with 50 percent off Gold, Silver and Bronze.

For Funding Publishers

Sign up for a Publishers Pitch and review 40 of the world’s best indie games during a three-hour pitch on Nov. 12. Get more exposure at the expo area with a booth or meeting table with 50 percent off Gold, Silver or Bronze sponsorship packages.

New Delegation Package

CGA has recently launched a new program that will make it simpler for government and non-profit organizations or just a group of up to 10 developers to join Casual Connect with a special delegation package rate.

* * *

Casual Connect brings together the most talented and knowledgeable experts in the gaming field to further the industry with the best learning and networking opportunities for gaming professionals since 2005, four times every year. See the full schedule of Casual Connect events for 2018 here.

For any questions please contact Yuliya Moshkaryova at yuliya@cga.global or on Facebook.

Report: Marketers, Agencies Disagree On Media Buy Priorities

ID Comms has released its 2018 Global Media Trading Report—the seventh and final study as wave one in the 7Ts Global Research Project. The two-year study examines media behaviors of successful marketers across the world in seven “Ts”: Transparency, Talent, Training, Terms, Thinking, Technology and Trading.

When it comes to media trading, marketers agreed that while it’s easy to purchase cheaply, it’s more challenging to buy well. Cost-focused behavior, the respondents added, is somewhat led by media auditors and client requests for lower prices. Media trading must balance quality and price but the quality is more important, marketers said in the report. A majority of respondents—88 percent—agreed that advertisers who treat media as a quality buy rather than a commodity buy are at an advantage.

“We need to go from treating media as a commodity to be much more of a quality buy because agencies were just being incentivized to buy cheap media,” Stéphane Bérubé, CMO for Western Europe at L’Oréal, said in the report.

The disconnect between advertiser and agency priorities is apparent in ID Comms’ findings, particularly in what each group classified as the most indicator of successful media trading.

A majority of respondents classified “business results/ROI” as the most important indicator of successful media trading in 2018. However, 68 percent who did so were made of advertisers, compared to 32 percent of agency respondents.

The importance of financial transparency was especially disparate, with 91 percent naming it a top measurement of success compared to only nine percent from agencies.

Different opinions were also found between respondents in charge of procurement and marketers, especially when it comes to whether a media plan dictates the buy or vice versa.

Overall, participating marketing professionals agreed that traditional media auditing is less relevant in an age of digital auctions and hiring the best talent is a challenge shared by all.

Conducted over a two-week period in January and February, ID Comms received 130 responses from marketing, media and procurement professionals located in Europe (75 percent), the US (15 percent) and the remainder in other areas of the world.