With Artificial Intelligence (AI) becoming the talk of the town today, the marketing fraternity also seems to be undergoing a change when it comes to conducting research, understanding audience behaviour or doing predictive analysis.
According to Ranjan Kumar, Founder and CEO, Entropik, the consumer research industry is transforming with time and in doing so, it has come a long way from merely using traditional surveys and focus group discussions which relied on ‘stated responses’ that were often biased and gave only directional insights.
“But today, brands try to understand consumer preference at the behavioural level and as a result, they are driving adoption of technological applications to get richer and more pinpointed insights, faster,” he added.
He also went on to throw light on how the market in India has become more receptive to AI-based research in terms of applications, use cases, etc. and stated that what actually matters to brands in the current time frame is ‘rich consumer insights’ and fast delivery as it is on the basis of these that brands can make high-quality marketing and product decisions and drive innovation.
“Over the last five years, all the leading brands in India, starting from CPG giants like P&G and ITC to banks like Axis and Kotak, to media houses like Viacom18; all have experienced the power of AI as they piloted with us and are now looking to grow in their pursuit of understanding their respective audiences better,” he added.
Having said that, Kumar also went on to highlight that ad testing has also changed today and has even transformed the way that marketers gain insights for their strategies.
“Historically ad testing was a more confirmatory test to make a go-no go decision which has now evolved to come at the core of marketing strategy and that right from developing consumer-centric ads to defining audience strategy and media plan, consumer research is playing a pivotal role,” he shared.
Moreover, Kumar also went on to emphasise that, unlike earlier times when manual surveys and focus groups took around 4-5 weeks to give out insights, the usage of AI has enabled marketers to achieve the same in merely 5-6 days.
In terms of the richness of insights, Kumar also highlighted that marketers have now moved from the binary of ‘Yes/ No’ to which aspects of the ads are ‘connecting emotionally with the audience’.
Commenting on the challenges that modern-day marketers can overcome with the adoption of AI-powered integrated market research, he went on to state that AI technologies like facial coding and eye tracking on top of quantitative surveys allow brands to read into consumers' attention, engagement and emotion, which also helps them deliver ads which not just resonate with the audience at an emotional level but also maintain top-notch brand equity and recall.
“AI has to be consciously used in line with ethics of privacy. Hence, when we deploy such a technology, we make sure that it is only tested on a consented audience and that none of the personal information is saved at our end to ensure GDPR compliance,” he stated.
Furthermore, Kumar also went on to state that Entropik resorts to benchmarking to make the AI-based market research process more seamless and on-point while building upon the predictive algorithms through machine learning.
“Over the last seven years, we have tested over 45,000 stimuli across 3,00,000 global respondents, data of which is proprietary to us and this is the same data that we utilise to become predictive. We don’t use any customer data for training of sets,” he pointed out.
With this, he also went on to add that even though AI brings together all the insights under one umbrella, it also has the ability to help one read into it holistically as that is what gives business answers to questions in a comparatively precise manner.
Sharing an example for the same, he said, one of the insights on ad testing would be 5th- 12th seconds of an ad is where visual appeal is low, given that the user attention scores are low and that this is what further helps in crashing time to insights by 5x.
Elaborating more on how AI-ML-based Generative AI tools can ease a marketer’s job at a time when personalisation and contextualisation are key to many businesses, Kumar also shared the viewpoint that Generative AI is great at comprehending unstructured data and in the case of companies like Entropik which bank on their emotional repositories, it is a great tool to assimilate data and throw meaningful insights without having to go to analytics dashboard and interpret from therein.
Additionally, he also went on to add that in the current day and age when every marketer strives to get his/her share in the target audience’s attention span, which is typically about seven seconds, what is likely to stand out and be recalled by the audience is ‘personalisation’ to the extent that the ad can only communicate or resonate with the target audience at an emotional level.
“AI carries the collective intelligence to make breakthroughs into personalisation. The richness of data for AIs to be effective and the ability of enterprises to package it to scale along with existing stack methods is the key to adoption,” Kumar said.
“Historical survey-based AB test at best reveal A vs B situation, but any granular insight is likely to be biased. Hence, technologies like facial coding are needed to get one the behavioural cues of attention, engagement and emotion at a second-by-second level,” he stated.
On a concluding note he shared that when coupled with technologies such as eye tracking which helps one understand where exactly is the respondent gazing at in the ad, AI becomes super powerful in understanding audience preferences.