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    Nicole Greene: Looking forward with AI

    Nicole Greene is a VP, analyst at Gartner and an expert on AI, content and digital experience. We had a long conversation about how AI is rapidly changing how people get content and how chatbots are becoming the next frontier in advertising.

    As she mentions, Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) — which is still being tested — is very popular with users. It responds to queries with full answers instead of links. She expects this and other genAI search innovations will mean huge changes in digital marketing.

    Gartner’s research has found that:

    • By 2025, GenAI will be embedded in 80% of conversational AI offerings, up from 20% in 2023.
    • By 2026, search marketing will lose market share to AI chatbots and other virtual agents, with traditional search engine volume dropping 25%.
    • By 2028, brands’ organic search traffic will decrease by 50% or more as consumers embrace generative AI-powered search.

    Read on to find out what that all means. (Interview edited for length and clarity.)

    Q: So you picked exactly the right subject to be an expert in. 

    A: Yeah, now everyone’s like, “Oh, this is what you’ve been talking about for the last four years that I didn’t understand what you were saying.”

    It’s a really fascinating space. The way that the democratization of the technology is making it so accessible. Everyone can go touch and feel and play and understand it. And as a result, we’re seeing consumers’ content consumption behaviors shifting so quickly. They’re making conversations more utility-based so that ultimately we can all interact and make decisions faster and more easily.

    SGE is impacting the way we engage. About 42% of consumers prefer SGE over traditional search already because it’s a reduced need to click, and you can save time and do things faster.

    The next logical step in that journey is, wow, I can now go to a chatbot and have a conversation and find what I need faster. And if people are anything like me, I’m a busy working parent, a lot of these decisions, I just want to get done.

    Dig deeper: 3 proven ways to use ChatGPT to beef up your content strategy

    So when you think about this engagement behavior, consuming content and engaging with brands in this more conversational way. There are some technologies already existing mostly in pilot mode that are essentially infusing advertising into chatbots. 

    Q: To use a technical term, “Huh?”

    A: So think about it this way. Say you’re on a customer service hold waiting for the insert brand tier chatbot to get back to you, and you’re getting a little, “OK, when is the person going to get back to me?” The chatbot can say, “Oh, so sorry for your wait time. Here’s a 20% off coupon or your complimentary product.”

    What does that do? Increases cart size, betters customer service, offers promotions, and increases lifetime value. All of the business growth objectives that marketers are already striving for come into this smaller ecosystem where you have the captured attention of your customer. There’s nothing better to build loyalty than “Oh, you’re starting to get irritated. Have a discount.”

    Customer-facing experiences and business units are becoming more integrated due to genAI capabilities. I can now create one piece of content that spans sales, customer service, and every other customer-facing interaction. 

    Because a lot of those chatbots will give you that first-party data to actually create more personalized journeys and experiences. 

    So, ultimately, you’ll have that very intimate knowledge of what your customer wants and what resonates with them based on that one-to-one interface. Then, if you have the data and systems in place to connect that to a broader experience, that’s where you’ve unlocked that potential ecosystem beyond personalization. One that provides true benefit for the customer. The fact is users don’t want personalization, what they want are better experiences.

    Dig deeper: Google SGE a top threat to brand and product search terms, study finds

    Q: Marketers want data and they always say that personalization makes it worth it to the consumer to give up their data. But mostly that means being pitched more things to buy, which benefits the company, not the customer. So this gives the customer something tangible in return for their information. 

    A: It’s hard to deliver on a true value exchange and this is a potential way in. And again, very behavioral based due to how the customer responds or doesn’t right in the moment of that engagement.

    Q: So I see how this can aid B2C marketers, but what about B2B? No one is giving 20% off coupons when the price tag is many tens of thousands of dollars.

    A: The B2B side is actually really interesting. A lot of times B2B is also kind of in the publishing environment where it’s more about thought leadership. Ad revenue we know is declining based on innovations like SGE. But ad placement is important in driving revenue for many B2B companies and of course many publishers. Where do they go? How do they make this work?

    The question then becomes, how can you insert yourself into a conversation in a relevant way? B2B buyers go to websites to get information. Now they engage with chatbots to find specific information. If the conversation is relevant to them, they’re more likely to complete the steps necessary to support a collective buying journey. 

    And if you think about placements and chatbots, whether it’s ads or content, it’s inserting that relevancy into the conversation. So in a B2B environment, I would think about a bit more around contextual placements. Delivering the offer or the message at the right time in that group buying journey. When we know they have larger buying cycles as well.

    Q: Give me an example of this in action.

    A: Most B2B companies I work with have multiple products and services. The chatbot is like, oh, you’re interested in a DXP. Did you also know that we offered a DAM that will help with the integrated metadata necessary to connect to your ecosystem? So more lifetime value, again, buying group consensus internally. Now, too, you see this sometimes with affiliates as well as partnerships. It can suggest a partner’s product or service. So think about the partnership ecosystem coming into play there as well. 

    I will also tell you that in a B2B space, the one thing I’ve noticed about GenAI is oftentimes it’s very business unit focused, rather than holistic buying journey or buying group focus. The chatbot shouldn’t be about sales or marketing. It should be about the entire journey and delivering contextually relevant advertising messaging in the moment when the buyer is going to be receptive to that.

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    The post Nicole Greene: Looking forward with AI appeared first on MarTech.

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