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Personalized Messaging, AI, User-Generated Video

Digital Strategist Brett Gauger and I recently attended the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago, where we learned the latest in marketing strategy, Artificial Intelligence (AI), brand personalization, brand loyalty, digital video, social media and user-generated content. The exhibition floor featured vendors from IBM, Magento, eBay, Amazon, Shopify and many more. Their services included emailing technology, web service and design, content strategy, application development, SEO, SEM, PPC, brand packaging and logistics.

Our key takeaway was that personalization of message and content strategy continue to evolve. The use of AI (machine intelligence) is leading to more individualized messages for consumers, who respond better to highly curated content and product selections. AI helps create personalized experiences online by recognizing patterns and changing web content to match consumers’ habits and preferences. This is most visible on retail websites such as Amazon, where AI creates the “frequently bought together” section. In the past merchandisers created these combo packs, but now AI does it faster, better and more individualized.

Creative strategy is also undergoing a revolution. Video continues to grow as a format for digital messaging, due in part to “Gen Z” (ages 11 to 24) and their demand for entertaining video content. GAP, Loot Crate and L’Oreal showed their new authentic video ads that look as if they were shot by a consumer (perhaps better than the average consumer). Also, brands are embracing user-generated content (UGC) and enabling customers to become their biggest ad creators through word of mouth and social sharing. One presenter said, “Help us look cool and we will post about it!” We observed many ads that looked like high-quality Snapchat and Instagram posts using Boomerang, stop motion and stickers. Several retailers also demonstrated how they use “live” social media platform events to drive demand and sales.

In the media realm, social media lookalike audiences and audience modeling continue to be the most effective ways to reach consumers. Lookalike audiences allow brands to leverage data from current customers to find others who would be open to the advertiser’s message. Remarketing ads are a strong vehicle for consumer conversion. Email is still an effective advertising format, but only when used with other efforts such as direct mail and/or social advertising. However, email designs must be adaptive and personalized so they bring value in the form of a new product or discount promotion. Brands can win by creating audience segments and ads that appeal to them. They need to consider customer retention and lifetime value (LTV) of a customer (how much he or she will buy over the years), and focus ad spend on retaining current customers more than acquiring new ones.

In summary:

  • Social is changing, and the most effective content on social is video.
  • Social lookalike audiences and audience modeling are continuing to grow in popularity with advertisers.
  • Social messages should be authentic and not overly produced.
  • AI (machine learning) is used in everything from advertising to merchandising to content creation.
  • Analytics are leveraged to create neat customer experiences.
  • Flipping the funnel helps build customer retention and acquisition.
  • Advertising content must provide value to your customer. Native advertisement seems to really connect with personal sentiment.
  • Connecting your product to a cause can produce great results.

More information about IRCE can be found here.

Author: Brandon Wolf

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