Personalization is nothing new in the marketing space. There have been various innovations over the years to make a campaign as relatable and personal as possible to the consumer and one could argue that it is at its peak right now with AI-based video personalized messages that address one customer at a time using pre recorded messages from celebrities to the audience.
It is important to understand the reasons behind using this technology, how it is being utilized by brands, and what to look forward to with this technology in the future with insights from experts from different verticals.
“AI-powered technology. Our hyperlocal efforts in 2020 left a sweet memory in the minds of many retailers who suffered a setback because of the pandemic. Continuing our success and reaching out to a wider set of small business owners, we decided to scale up our initiative by bringing India’s most favorite star – Shah Rukh Khan on board whilst continuing to leverage the power of technology,” says Anil Viswanathan, Senior Director – Marketing, Mondelez India, on what prompted them to utilize this technology for their marketing campaigns.
“The idea was simple, we wanted as many small vendors as possible in the country to create their personalized ad featuring the Bollywood actor and this could only be possible with the right use of technology,” Vishwanathan added.
One of the many brands to use this technology was Stonex India, which realized personalization to be new customization. According to Siddhart Kumar, CMO, Stonex India, personalization is the new customization.
Stonex India used a personalized festival greeting with Rahul Bose’s digital avatar that lent an interactive element to the campaign and helped the company reach a wider audience. “We received an overwhelming response that further encourages us to keep pushing the envelope of innovation and create more informative campaigns,” Kumar says.
“One of the tasks for any business is to ‘keep in touch’ with its audience. As an organization that is customer-centric and addresses the cream of society, the task only gets more sensitive. Always finding oneself only a step away from getting lost in the clutter of brands out there trying to reach the same audience through the same mediums, a customer’s undivided attention is of great value,” Kumar says.
Making AI-enabled videos
How exactly does this AI-led Video personalized messaging technology work?
“The way AI works is, we record something, let’s say, ‘Hi Ashray, welcome to “name of the brand”, and then we crop out Ashray with your name and you can create these millions of personalized videos and that’s where AI comes into play where you take one base message create millions of personalized copies of it,” says Ashray Malhotra, Co-founder & CEO, Rephrase.ai.
For example, Mondelez harnessed the power of AI to help build an avatar for actor Shah Rukh Khan, exactly mimicking his facial expressions, lip movement, and voice in our campaign and used that to allow customers to make their own personalized ad with Khan.
For consumers who would like to make their ad, they could use the ‘not just a Cadbury’ Ad site that will help them personalize, based on given details, an advert as the backend AI technology works in a way that the actor takes the name of the selected consumer seamlessly, making the ad look like it was made for that particular store.
Mondelez aimed to help the smaller businesses during the pandemic by creating a hyper-personalized ad where names of local stores featured against specific pin codes to raise the brand equity of the business further.
“Building on the success of the first edition, we wanted to leverage technology in a bigger way this year to enable local retailers to make a personalized version of their ads. We also expanded the scope from 250 pin codes in 2020 to 500 pin codes this year, reaching 2000+ local retailers in the ad serving platforms. Our personalized videos were additionally downloaded by over 120k stores,” Viswanathan says. “Not only did both campaigns reiterate Mondelez’s consumer centricity but the right use of technology helped the business take a step closer to the smaller retailers who remain a key part of our journey in the country.”
As to what lies in the future for this technology and its impact on the marketing industry, Ashray says, “The largest impact that it will have on the marketing is a shift away from broadcast to a one on one communication. So, for the first time, we have already seen brands want to get a lot of first party data, so we would see brands trying to build a one on one relationship with the customer, that’ll be the largest thing that will happen.”
“Right now, we create real humans, digital avatars, we want to keep expanding this to adding different backgrounds, to add more body gestures, we’ll do a lot better work with voice,” he adds.
The ethical conundrum
One of the major concerns that brands are being cautious about is the ethical aspects of it. “Before we went live with the campaign, we evaluated the cause and ensured the technology being used was for a positive one and that it would only help more small businesses in the country. We felt responsible and worked towards setting up ethical behavior and a tight regulation benchmark,” Viswanathan says.
“As a brand leveraging AI to mine data, we made sure that all value submissions (like names of the stores) get filtered to predict a safelist/denylist. We also had a robust QA team filtering all entries to avoid any possibility of a video being created that the celebrity would not have approved. Additionally, we were also cautious throughout the journey to ensure the technology was not misused for unethical reasons including non-existent stores or brands, or instances wherein the celebrity might potentially get mocked,” he concluded.