If Miss Piggy is any indication, some of our online discussions are about to be as artificially intelligent as AI can take us. That may be eerily far, indeed — as the best Go players in the world will attest.
The last time I checked in with Swyft Media co-founder Evan Wray, way back in December, emojis were all the rage. Presumably, they still will be for quite a while — even if they’re history in their country of origin, Japan. But I know Swyft Media is also among those developing technology to allow brands to simultaneously launch multiple pages to facilitate direct messaging with users.
So I asked Wray a few general questions about the technology.
Time recently ran a piece with the headline, “Chat Bots Are
Back And They’re About To Take Over.” Really?
Evan Wray: You better believe it! There’s a popular report by Activate stating that mobile messaging apps have been the fastest growing online sector within the social landscape over the past five years, with 2.5 billion registered users today and an additional 1.1 billion new users expected by 2018 — totaling 3.6 billion users.
Couple that with the sophistication of today’s chat bot — or artificial intelligence technology. This is an environment in which audience engagement can flourish — and should not be ignored by marketers. The future mobile experience where commerce, services, and communications are all completed in a contextual intelligent chat thread within messaging apps — instead of through a clunky combination of mobile sites and apps — is becoming closer and closer to a present-day reality.
How does this work for brands,
Wray: Messaging players have found a new and improved way to use chat bots, especially as a tool for brands/advertisers to engage with consumers. Much like branded emojis and GIFs have become a more prominent mainstay in the advertising strategy of large brands, official branded account pages within messaging apps can now serve as content hubs. Brands can drive continued engagement to their audience through coupons, videos, chats, contests and more.
Has the technology really gotten good enough that the user will get useful, pertinent information
back — and not just a chuckle from some wry evasion?
Wray: Absolutely. We’ve seen brand activations with sophisticated artificial intelligence in various forms. One recent activation for the 2015 film "The Forest" leveraged our platform to launch a “choose your own adventure” style narrative, where fans of the film can walk through several iterations of a storyline within the universe of the movie, all through a text-based conversation that includes images, videos and interactive links.
You’re just back from
SXSW. What were the key social media takeaways?
Wray: Brands and marketers will continue to explore new mediums in order to reach and engage their target audiences. Whether it’s within messaging apps, traditional social media, photo apps, virtual reality or wearables — the key is to focus on the context of the environment and create your content accordingly.
I decided to run all this by Apple’s Siri, who in my experience is as apt to respond with a wry evasion as she is to come back with pertinent information. In this case, perhaps she delivered a bit of both.
“Siri, what do you think of chat bots?”
"I think, therefore I am,” quoth the Siri. “But let’s not put Descartes before the horse.”