Agencies Debate Time And Place To Use Chatbots

Not all agencies see eye-to-eye when it comes to using chatbots.

Agency executive perspectives on brands using AI-driven chatbots to interact with consumers range from seeing immediate opportunity to severe opposition.

This was the general takeaway from a panel discussion yesterday at the MediaPost OMMA Bots and Chat at Advertising Week conference.

Andrew Klein, associate director of social experience and product innovation at Mediavest-Spark, said he worked with partners at Facebook to create an accelerator program to build chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger platform.

Klein brought a handful of clients down to see the what teams were creating and he said that three of four clients who participated launched their own bots.

“What I told them up-front was ‘if you don’t build this now or start thinking about it now, in six months when Facebook actually gives you advertising media opportunities connected to the Messenger bot platform, you’re going to be a little bit behind.”

Another agency executive said that the state of artificial intelligence in chatbots is currently limited.

“I’d caution everybody the same about the AI stuff,” said Scott Varland, vice president of creative at IPG Media Lab. “It is a narrow intelligence, but there’s still a lot we can do with it.”

Varland said the opportunity that AI chatbots can create for brands is to move consumer engagements to a more personal level.

“You talk about utility for the brands and what excites me for them, it’s this one-on-one connection with customers,” he said.

However, not everyone sees opportunity for artificial intelligence in every scenario.

“What concerns me most about AI is that we hope that people are going to come to our websites, we hope that people are going to show interest in our products and the idea that we have this rare moment where someone shows this massive interest in a product and then we outsource that interaction to a bot is crazy,” said Tom Goodwin, executive vice president and head of innovation at Zenith Media.

“Human beings need to speak to other human beings, especially if they’re high net-worth customers, so it’s pretty arrogant to take a customer that’s spending their real-life moments with us and then to give that away to a bot as if our time is more important than theirs.”

2 comments about "Agencies Debate Time And Place To Use Chatbots".
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  1. Alex Miller from ViaSat, September 30, 2016 at 3:01 p.m.

    We really see it as a good option for support for those who want something quicker than live chat or a phone call. We're working on a bot that can answer simple questions and do some basic account functions. Whether we'd use it for sales is an open question; we haven't considered that yet.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, October 13, 2016 at 11:19 p.m.

    Isn't just a souped up version of FAQs?

    Instead of the user reading the FAQ script on-screen that most closely seems to resemble the potential answer to their question, a bot interprets the users typed question and reads the FAQ script it thinks best provides the answer.

    Personally I find it takes more time, is less friendly,less precise ... and frankly can be a tad creepy.

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