Published 31st January 2017 | Digital Marketing

The Future of Marketing in 2017: Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

Could 2017 be the year we finally catch up with the future?

We’ve been looking a lot recently at marketing trends for 2017: Website Design Trends in 2017, What to Expect For Digital Marketing in 2017 and The Future of Creative Design – What to Expect in 2017. Mainly we’ve seen a slight evolution of existing trends and a few retro design styles. While these are important things to be aware of for your business, they’re far from revolutionary.

However, there’s a whole bunch of other stuff going on in technology that we haven’t touched on and it feels remiss to leave unmentioned. We’re not suggesting you need to incorporating these into your marketing strategy right away, but well worth considering how you could use them in the, not so distant, future.

1. Artificial intelligence

Ever since 1968 and “Space Odyssey 2001” we’ve been conditioned to see Artificial Intelligence (AI) as bad and scary and potentially civilisation ending. I struggle to think of a film where robots being able to think for themselves doesn’t end badly for the human race.

Interesting then that nearly half a century later and AI (Google’s DeepMind to be precise) is currently working with the human race (the NHS to be precise) rather than against them. Doctors at the Royal Free say partnering with DeepMind could free up over half a million hours per year, currently spent on paperwork, towards direct patient care.

DeepMind’s Streams app is designed to deliver an alert about a patient’s condition to a doctor’s or nurse’s mobile in a similar way to getting a news notification. It will be used this year to spot people at risk of kidney problems, but is due to be expanded over five years to include other functions such as detecting blood poisoning and coordinating patient treatment.

Artificial Intelligence and Marketing

The majority of us are contributing to AI learning every day.

The emergence of personal computers, the internet, social networks and smart phones have led to a content explosion, with billions of videos, selfies and posts being uploaded every hour.

This exponential increase in data volume has meant we now need artificial intelligence to help make sense of it all. For instance:

– Facebook – pattern recognition algorithms help you tag your friendsin photos

– Facebook also has deep learning technology woven into their suggestions, Newsfeed algorithms and trending topics

– LinkedIn – uses machine learning algorithmsto offer better job-candidate matches for both employers and job seekers.

– Pinterest – uses AI for object recognition to boost Pin and product recommendations; boost ad performance and relevance prediction; and detect spam users and content.

– Google – while not quite at human cognitive levels, using similar algorithms in its search engine allows Google to refine their search algorithms to make more personalised, targeted results.

This is merely scratching the surface of what can be done with AI. For marketers, looking to increase personalisation, expect to see more software with built-in AI capabilities begin to appear.

2. AI Chatbots are changing our conversations

Another result of the advances in AI are chatbots, created to provide positive customer experience and service by leveraging the power of technology. Chatbots are conversational agents designed to simulate intelligent conversation without a human being present.

They offer flexibility to automate tasks, and assist in retrieving data. If you’re struggling to get to grips with the idea then think Apple’s Siri, perhaps the most renowned example of a chatbot.

And while asking Siri for advice on a good local restaurant is great, imagine a chatbot that knows your likes, dislikes, allergies and can guide you using this information. The next generation of chatbots store, synthesize, and recall important data, they’ll use AI, deep learning, and data crumbs from across the web to understand and guide consumer behaviour.

Understandably, they’re becoming an appealing way to enhance the consumer experience. Hardly surprising then that Mark Zuckerberg, always keen to be at the forefront of new technology, announced third parties could use the Facebook messenger platform to create their own personal chatbot.

One of the most popular of the 11,500+ bots that’s been developed on messenger is Chotu, an AI robot that assists in accelerating customer information acquisition through Facebook messages. It provides all the needed information from your messages, rather than relying on several different apps working together. Chotu can perform multiple tasks at a single time and offers 24×7 customer service.

Allowing brands to connect to potential, and existing, customers independently through messenger bots brings us into a new advertising era. Chatbots enable businesses to offer a more efficient and personal consumer experience. This helps in creating a strong relationship with customers, without the costs of having customer support teams working around the clock.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 60 years since we had the first VR head mounted display, although it wasn’t until 1991 that the public began to have access to VR with group arcade machines. For a quarter of a century it’s felt like VR has been on the verge of breaking though. So, has it finally arrived?

Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle analysis showed predictions of wide adoption for VR in 2016. After all, it was the year that Facebook’s Oculus started sales, Google introduced its own VR platform in May (with an extremely accessible and cheap version called Cardboard) and Samsung was selling its own set.

According to Gartner, virtual reality and augmented reality have both negotiated the over-hyped ‘Peak of inflated expectations’ and are expected to reach maturity within the next 5-10 years.

From a marketing perspective, 2016 was largely dominated by the release of two products; $29 billion game Pokémon Go and Google’s Daydream/Cardboard. Both represent the current peak of progress in the worlds of augmented and virtual reality.

The fact that both products have been so well-received means we expect an onslaught of companies attempting to replicate their success. We expect to see product placements popping up in our virtual worlds, and attempts to augment various parts of our real worlds, over the coming year (and beyond!).


AI, VR and AR will continue to develop and evolve in 2017 and we’re excited to see how businesses, and marketers, can harness their power to create a better customer experience.

If you’re interested in giving your users the best possible experience then contact our friendly team on 01763 877110 to see if any of these trends would benefit customers and, ultimately, your business.


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