IBM's Watson Shows Interesting Marketing Implications
To stand out in increasingly crowded marketplaces, marketers are investigating techniques for using predictive analytics, big data, and other automated tools to help get their newest online marketing initiatives off the ground. There have certainly been advances in qualitative and quantitative methods in marketing, especially for email marketing and social advertising, but still many people are left adrift searching for the right technology solution. What if there was some sort of… artificial intelligence (AI) to help expedite the journey toward marketing success?
Researchers have been working on AI for decades and now it is starting to creep into the public forum in sneaky ways. Image analysis software, for instance, has lately made some headlines, especially on consumer-facing online products from Google and Facebook. These systems automatically scan photos to guess who’s in it based on your social connections, for better or for worse. Bing released a tool called How Old Robot that scans a portrait or group photo and simply guesses the age of people in the image. It is often comically wrong and wound up reflecting poorly on Bing and Microsoft for releasing it. It seems that these giant companies could use a bit more tact and subtlety in their product releases. Is there any great technology company out there that can portray their mastery of AI in a way that is intriguing and could have a more practical function?
Published originally in March and updated in July of 2015, IBM, the quintessential technology company in America, released an application using their artificial intelligence system, Watson, called Personality Insights. This program analyzes a series of personality traits based on a writing sample. It's quite fascinating to input your own simple blog post, and discover that this computer can really cut to your core.
Watson was introduced to the world as the computer who defeated former champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings in Jeopardy. Since then, Watson hasn't just been watching afternoon game shows. As described on the tool’s documentation, "Personality Insights service uses linguistic analytics to extract a spectrum of cognitive and social characteristics from the text data that a person generates through blogs, tweets, forum posts, and more."
As the IBM Watson Developer Cloud also states, "The service uses linguistic analytics to infer personality and social characteristics, including Big Five, Needs, and Values, from text."
This psychology speak is all beyond me, as a simpleton SEO Specialist with a marketing degree, but I think it's pretty interesting that an automated tool can articulate a lot of information about the writer based on sentence structure and vocabulary. There are other helpful writing analysis tools out there which go beyond grammar check and spell check to help you become a better writer, but they don't analyze projected tone or values in the same way. So anyways, when I found this Watson tool, I thought what any sound mind would think, let's try this out on someone famous!
Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet
A recent press release surprised the internet world and Wall Street alike in announcing the restructuring and renaming of Google’s many branches into the new holding company, Alphabet.
This press release was published as a personal letter from Brin himself, but because of the financial implications, it's impossible to believe that it is supposed to reflect his individual personality, and was probably edited extensively before publication. That being said, the letter does intend to inspire enthusiasm and shareholder confidence in the “new” company, so its sentiment and tone are very important.
Here’s what Watson’s analysis said:
The personality analysis summary is pretty much what I would write if I worked for Goog--I mean Alphabet and wanted to describe the overall image of the company as if it were a person. Google's original slogan was "don't be evil" and the opposite of evil in my head is "genial and helpful". It's pretty impressive to see how well they conveyed their corporate image in this piece, and it's no wonder that the announcement was taken so well, even by the stock market. Regardless of the actual financial implications of this corporate restructuring, I feel pretty confident that they are going to achieve success for their shareholders based on reading the letter.
Here is a screenshot of the unique elements Watson evaluated here. These are the individual rating scales which compose the analysis:
A couple interesting areas to note are in the red colored "Value" section. Openness to change and self-transcendence are each 100%, suggesting that the writer is willing to adapt with the whims of the people and the ways of the world. Doesn't that sound like exactly the type of thing Larry Page wants you to believe?
Anyways, this isn't a PR analysis blog post, it's just amazing how much insight you can get about a piece of writing by using the Watson tool. I read its analysis and I'm simply astounded. It's like seeing the results of a focus group by hitting copy and paste.
Now it seems that this technology could really help marketers test different versions of copy before launching it. From persona development, to copywriting, to content strategy, there are lots of possibilities. This is not just elementary, my dear Watson, (too far?) this could be a representation of the future of marketing itself!
Data analysis services through Watson and IBM have already begun to pay dividends for companies who have used it to solve problems, and they have begun selling these services to businesses of all types. In addition to these enterprise-level services, developers around the net have begun using the open-source Watson apps, including Personality Insights, to produce independent services and apps of their own. An example of this is a company called Edge Up Sports which is working to use the service in combination with others to help fantasy football owners! Combining statistics, weather reports, injury news, analyst reports, and even players' social media posts, the company's mission is to create a combined qualitative and quantitative analysis to create a better prediction of performance than ever before.
If it works for the NFL, it has to work in marketing right? If a crawl tool like Screaming Frog could incorporate writing analysis from Watson, we could open a whole new dimension in our SEO Audits by evaluating consistency in brand voice through a website and comparing against company goals. While this Watson tool is limited on its own, creative marketers like you can use it to expedite other processes. Do you have landing pages, blog content, meta titles, or PPC ads to test? See what Watson has to say and let us know how it may help.