Brands have an endless variety of channels and formats available to advertise to their consumers. Yet, at the end of the day, most advertising simply talks “at” consumers, not “with” them, struggling to create meaningful relationships as a result. Over the past three years, chatbots have emerged as a powerful way to communicate with consumers. Brands in categories as diverse as beauty, automotive, financial services, wine and spirits and CPG have found that conversational AI experiences drive multiple minutes of engagement, increase conversion rates, and are a transparent and opt-in way for consumers to share insight about their preferences. Yet the scale of these benefits has been limited mainly to Facebook Messenger as a channel.
At Automat we have been seeking ways to increase the value brands can obtain by bringing Conversational AI to channels beyond messaging, and the first place we’re starting is with display advertising. Today, in partnership with AdLingo – part of Google’s Area 120 innovation incubator – we are bringing Conversational Display Ads to market. This lets consumers click into an ad to have a conversation with a brand, and then to continue that same conversation on the brand website, messaging apps, smart speakers and other channels.
How Does Conversational Display Advertising Work?
Display advertising is everywhere, spread across the billions of websites consumers browse every day. Conversational Display Advertising takes on the same placements, reach and targeting as traditional display advertising, but instead of a click on an ad leading you to a website or landing page, these ads enable the user to stay on the content they’re browsing while simultaneously starting a chat with a brand’s Conversational AI. Imagine reading car reviews and being able to book a test drive at a dealership, or planning a party and having an AI bartender help you find the perfect cocktails to serve, or even researching skin care and getting a personalized diagnostic all without leaving the website you’re already on. Brands that provide this kind of service aren’t just advertising, they’re showing their customers they care before they even become customers.
Conversational Advertising creates true two-way connections between brands and consumers, all via existing display advertising channels. When compared to current digital advertising or one-way mass media, it’s no surprise that consumers are happier when they can talk back. Consumers will still benefit from visiting stores and websites, reading reviews, and getting recommendations from social media influencers and their friends when learning about products, but now, when they need guidance or are seeking advice or expertise at moments of awareness they have access to it immediately without seeking it out elsewhere. Best of all, if a brand already has a chatbot working in Facebook Messenger or on their website, they can re-use it as a Conversational Display Ad, getting more value out of their investment across additional channels.
How to Connect Conversational Advertising to the Rest of Your Customer Journey
It’s important to understand that Conversational Advertising simply moves the first conversation brands have with a potential customer earlier in that customer’s journey, but it doesn’t replace other channels where you may be having conversations today such as Facebook Messenger, your website, in-app, in-store, or via smart speakers.
In fact, connecting conversations across each of these touchpoints is becoming ever more important. If a consumer chats with a Conversational Display Ad and gets a personalized product recommendation, they may then complete the purchase on the brand website by continuing their conversation at a later date.
Offline they can talk to the brand’s conversational AI in a store to learn about products that compliment their earlier online purchase, even receiving a just-in-time promotion. Back home, they may see on the product packaging that they can talk to their smart speaker to obtain usage tutorials and setup instructions.
The proliferation of places that brands can have conversations with their customers represents a great opportunity to get to know them and serve them better, but it’s critical that these conversations are connected if a brand wants to avoid frustrating the consumer. Consumers expect a brand’s conversational AI to remember past interactions and can continue a conversation across different channels in both text and speech.
At Automat we refer to providing Guidance, Recommendation, Advice, Consultation and Expertise across multiple connected conversations a GRACEful experience. The web is roughly twenty-five years old, and for the entirety of that time marketing and e-commerce has been a “self service” experience. Most of the time we all find this empowering and convenient, but there are also times that we feel like we need more help than is provided by the current state of the art, which consists mostly of learning about products on search or social media and then determining if a product is right for us from reviews. While not everyone wants to talk to a real person, sometimes we still want to be helped in a more personal way.
If you want to deliver a consumer experience that is more personal and helpful than self-service, and would like to learn more about deploying Conversational Display Advertising, or how to create a Connected Conversation throughout your entire customer journey – sign up for our webinar to learn all the many ways that Conversational AI can help your brand to converse, connect, and convert.