Our BLOG

All Posts

The Year of Intelligent Personal Assistants

Intelligent Personal AssistantAs an Android person, I missed the Siri boat. I constantly forget Cortona exists, but it's a thing. Then when Alexa came around, I held out because it wasn't Google. Okay so maybe I'm a Google snob. But now I've had a chance to play with all four as well as develop apps for both Alexa and Google Home (aka Google Assistant). Although Google Assistant is the clear winner for me going into 2017, I'm going to keep this post about Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPAs) in general and the opportunities they present to both marketers and consumers.

Two trends I've continued to follow throughout the years are the need for deeper connections and control without confusion. I believe these two needs have driven technology to this point. The move from text chat, to video chat to VR/AR, is logical in this context. With more technology comes more things and with more things more confusion. I think we're still in the beginning phases of an IoT revolution but the technology to properly manage and control these experiences was not ready, until now.

What Is An Intelligent Personal Assistant?

Right now I'm focusing on the big 4; Google Assistant, Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. IPAs are conversational bots that help you complete tasks. The bots offered by each of the big 4 have slight differences between them, however, I think they compliment each other well. We're also slowly starting to reach a point of stabilization where functionality is relatively similar across each platform.

IPAs at the most basic level allow you to get answers to questions very fast.

"How cold is it outside?"

"Who is the oldest person in the world?"

"Why do people still use QR codes?"

Now give your assistant access to things like your phone and calendar, and it becomes a powerful tool to keep yourself organized. Add your credit card, and you can buy toilet paper in fewer words than a haiku. The more it knows about you, the more helpful if becomes.

How Should Marketers Approach Intelligent Personal Assistants

There is a lot of movement in the space right now, so the most important thing you can do is pay attention. Privacy concerns are still top of mind with reports of IPAs ordering things because the TV told them too. The IPAs are also getting new features daily with services popping up to do everything from order Ubers to Pizza. You may have heard a lot about Alexa coming off CES this past year but did you know Google just automatically enabled Google Assistant across all Android phones running the most recent version of the operating system? This is a huge move and instantly brings Google Assistant up to Alexa's level although Alexa has had a huge head start to get up and running.

But in case you missed the boat, I'll do my best to get you up to speed on the things Marketers should be paying attention to.

Being First To Market

The most obvious one is the massive opportunity this new marketplace presents. First, to market services will enjoy the luxury of claiming their turf for premium user queries related to their industry. Getting a ride and ordering pizza were two of the first services created by Uber and Dominos on Google Home when it finally added the option for third party integrations.

Although at this point, Domino's can't claim "pizza" as the keyword trigger for the app and instead has to use the more direct "Domino's", It won't be long before your Intelligent Personal Assistant remembers that Domino's is your favorite place to order from and allows you to use "Order me a pizza" as your trigger phrase. This is why being first to the marketplace is incredibly important as your Intelligent Personal Assistants learn more about you and your needs.

Deeper Connections

Another great thing about Intelligent Personal Assistants is the fact that they are conversational. Some are better at this than others, like Google Home for example. As artificial intelligence and machine learning become more ubiquitous, IPAs are starting to set new standards for what consumer facing AI might look like in the future. IPAs remember your habits and your interaction history which make it possible to ask contextual and follow-up questions in a very casual manner.

Now imagine in the case of conversational commerce, an IPA that helps you do your grocery shopping. This could be core functionality of the IPA or a third party service you can install. Based on previous interactions with your brands, the IPA could favor your products over the competition.

Furthermore, IPA's become their own channel with unique opportunities to engage users and create memorable experiences. Maybe the pizza brand also helps you make your own pizzas with step by step recipes and alternative ingredients recommendations. Because the platforms are truly mobile and circumstantial its possible to create some of the best contextually relevant experiences we've seen to date. Now instead of catching them before or after they've done the task you'd like to associate your brand with, you can catch them in the act. Doing laundry and can't get that annoying stain out? Just say out loud "How do I get pumpkin spice soy latte stains out of white t-shirts" and your favorite detergent company might respond with answers in that moment.

The lines will continue to blur as brands become companions in our lives instead of just packaged goods.

Control Without Confusion

As technology continues to evolve there is a lot more to keep track of in our lives. Navigating the mess is a huge barrier to entry for a lot of people. IPAs, however, solve a lot of the problems traditional tech has created. You no longer have to remember the "right" way to do something but just that you can do it. Your assistant is smart enough to figure out what you want to do and guide you along the way. This is an incredibly powerful tool for brands to help consumers navigate their complex digital web. IPAs serve both as their own channels but also as a one-stop access points to more traditional channels.

I've already seen this trend on websites using Intelligent Personal Assistants as customer support tools. It's certainly a balancing act as we advise clients to carefully approach automated personalized communication but when done right it can streamline incredibly complex user journeys. This makes things like identifying more qualified leads before connecting to sales and getting quick answers to common questions painless and easy. More importantly, you can do this all in your brand's voice. API.AI, which is what I used to create my own Google Home app, allows you to give your custom IPA personality right out of the box. It can even have a favorite color.

The Entry Point to IoT

Consumer based IoT is still in its infancy with products like Hue and WeMo currently dominating the space. Managing an app for each device becomes too much to manage once you get beyond 2 or 3 apps. The IPA eliminates the need to ever open those apps again. "Hey Google, turn the lights on and lock the front door". What would previously take the opening and closing two separate apps becomes a seamless phrase you might have yelled out to a family member anyways. In my opinion, besides privacy concerns, managing your IoT infrastructure had previously been too cumbersome a task to warrant the investment. Why pay for light bulbs that add an extra step to use when the switch on the wall is much easier? That's an oversimplification but for your average consumer, it is not far from the truth.

Brand's should be jumping at the opportunity to integrate their IoT tech with Intelligent Personal Assistants. We're still in the beginning phases and similar to how first to market services are going to win, first to integrate tech will also have a huge leg up.

This Is Just The Beginning

I've only glazed the surface here. We've gone from keyword search with website results to conversational search with immediate answers. This affects every facet of the digital agency from Search to Creative. UX will start to encompass voice design while our Ecomm team is developing out conversational commerce experiences. Your website will start to act more like an API and developers will need to make sure information is structured in ways that play nice with our new artificially intelligent friends.

Artificial intelligence in its current form is very cool. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon are making big investments in this space and alongside the IoT revolution, there is a big opportunity to create a deeper connection and more engaging experiences. It feels like the pinnacle of the inbound marketing movement where search is literally sitting on the mantle above my fireplace. Not only are Intelligent Personal Assistants incredibly fun but they are incredibly useful, and they're just getting started.

Related Posts

Google Search Trends Insights January 2020 - AMP Agency

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for January 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. A Somber Start to the 2020s  Well, I am not going to sugarcoat it. Some of the top queries in January 2020 were about troubling events. In the beginning of the month, Iran was a top-searched topic after the assassination of Qassem Soleimani. The other 10 million+ queries were as follows:  Iran - Jan. 7th - 10 Million+ queries Iran - Jan. 2nd - 5 Million+ queries World War 3 - Jan. 2nd - 2 Million+ queries By the end of the month, the top searched queries centered around a tragic helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna and seven other passengers. Although we don’t focus on this topic here in our blog posts, celebrity deaths do drive people to query Google for details and make the top three phrases every month. That’s why this past month, the shock of Kobe Bryant’s death overwhelmed the search volume on January 26th. Here are the top queried phrases on that day: Kobe Bryant - Jan. 26th - 10 Million+ queries Kobe Bryant children - Jan. 26th - 10 Million+ queries TMZ - Jan. 26th - 10 Million+ queries Typically, we don’t see all three of the top queried terms have over 10 million queries each, but this tragedy was an exception. Holidays Continue in January Even though December is well known as being a holiday month, January 2020 had a few holidays of its own that drove queries: Martin Luther King Jr Day - Jan. 19th - 10 Million+ queries Lunar New Year - Jan. 24th - 10 Million+ queries Chinese New Year - Jan. 24th - 500,000+ queries The holiday keywords that had over 10 million queries had the additional support of Google Doodles to increase their numbers. But even when our attention shifts away from the year-end holidays, there are still major ones in January that consumers are looking to learn more about with Google searches. Boxing Is Still Relevant As Revealed In Search Queries Sport-related queries take up a good portion of the top queried phrases of any month. January 2020 had a few days where the subject of boxing made the top three. In last month’s post, we discussed the popularity of European soccer. This month, it is clear that boxing and mixed martial arts also have a strong interest.   Conor McGregor  - Jan. 17th - 10 Million+ queries McGregor fight  - Jan. 18th - 2 Million+ queries McGregor fight - Jan. 17th - 1 Million+ queries Jake Paul vs Gib - Jan. 30th - 500,000+ queries Conor McGregor commanded top billing for his fight on January 18th. People searching for results or perhaps a free stream of the fight had to type quickly since it only lasted 40 seconds.  The fight on the 30th between Jake Paul and AnEsonGib also drove search queries. These two YouTube stars fought a professional bout in Miami and generated enough interest to become one of the top 3 keywords searched in Google for the day. Disease and Other Natural Disasters I really wish I had happier keywords to share in this post. But looking across the different terms for the month, another big trend included news items related to epidemics and disasters around the world: Coronavirus - Jan. 21st - 2 Million+ queries Earthquake - Jan. 28th - 1 Million+ queries Lyme disease - Jan. 8th - 1 Million+ queries Australia fires - Jan. 2nd - 1 Million+ queries Taal volcano - Jan. 12th - 500,000+ queries Coronavirus symptoms - Jan. 29th - 200,000+ queries Puerto Rico earthquake - Jan. 6th - 200,000+ queries We can thank Justin Bieber for raising awareness of Lyme Disease. The rest of these are driven by people wanting to get the latest news on these stories.  As we say goodbye to the first month of 2020 and welcome February in full-force, we’ll keep track of the top keywords queried in hopes of finding more positive, uplifting search terms.  See you next month!

2020 Media Innovation Day Takeaways - AMP Agency

Perfect Isn’t Worth It: Hot Takes from the 2020 Media Innovation Day Think about your favorite brand – and if you can’t pick just one, don’t fret. You can focus on your top three, or five, or whatever number will get you through this exercise. Got a few in mind? Great. Now ask yourself: what makes the brands you’re thinking of so wonderful? Is it the quality of the products they sell? The tone of voice they take on? Or maybe, just maybe, is it the fact that they connect with you on some level that you can’t quite put your finger on, but know is there? If that’s the case, then you probably love your favorite brands because they feel real to you – and that makes total sense. Because as people, we tend to favor brands that feel honest, authentic and human. Despite this affinity, there aren’t as many brands that have this real, human element to them as there should be. That’s because brands have long equated success with perfection, holding themselves to a standard that, in actuality, puts them at the risk of seeming fake. So, as we wondered where we as marketers should draw the line between achieving success and losing humanity, we decided to gain further insight into the matter. That’s why we sat down at this year’s Media Innovation Day and listened to a series of industry experts share their thoughts on the topic of “Being More Human” in the land of brands. Now, we’re going to break down some of our key takeaways. Let’s Get Personal It’s always nice when things have a personal touch to them, isn’t it ? Well, according to Bertrand “Coca” Cocallemen, Teads’ Global Creative Director, this rings true for brands, too.  When brands can create personal experiences for consumers across all touchpoints, it’s highly beneficial for the brand as a whole. For example, during his Media Innovation Day presentation, Coca recalled a rich media unit Teads created for a Dior perfume launch. What started as a 60-second video transformed into an interactive in-content unit that allowed the model, Jennifer Lawrence, to maintain eye contact with users as they scrolled through the page. This use of eye contact proved to be eye-catching for consumers and successful for Dior. Not only does the use of eye contact in an ad increase ad recall and lead to better overall metrics, but it can help brands become more personal and recognizable when paired with clear branding. Since simple optimizations such as this can make advertisements feel more personal and engaging, we as digital marketers can weave tactics with a human touch into the work we create for our clients in order to help them find success and build a world of better brands. Trust Us During his discussion on The New Media Experience, Brian Stelter, Chief Media Correspondent at CNN, honed in on the responsibility brands have to build trust with their consumer base. According to Stelter, gaining a trustworthy reputation for CNN was built on honest journalism. For us as marketers, it comes down to creating content that our clients’ consumers can connect with. Since a show of simple humanity can go a long way on making an impact with viewers or consumers, we want to help our client base find moments where they can have these trust-building interactions with consumers.  Don’t Worry: Everybody Makes Mistakes One final key takeaway from the 2020 Media Innovation Day pertains to quite possibly the most human thing there is: making mistakes. Everybody does it – even brands. And according to Adam Petrick, Global Director of Brand and Marketing at PUMA, what matters most isn’t whether a brand messes up or not, but how they reach out to consumers after a mistake is made. When brands reach out to consumers and own their mistakes in a way that stays true to their brand mission statement, they add value to their brand in a way that is honest and human. For PUMA specifically, Petrick explained that their company mantra is to be “Forever Faster” – always a step ahead, acknowledging that they aren’t perfect and turning any mistakes they make along the way into learning experiences that can improve and grow their brand. While the “Forever Faster” mantra is specific to PUMA, the thought of maintaining transparency with consumers is something any brand can get behind. By weaving humility into our clients’ brand platforms and practices, we can help them all feel more human and relatable. So Let’s Get Real With all of this in mind, we now ask ourselves: what’s next in the media industry? For us, it’s finding ways to take this human approach to marketing and use it to drive engagement and connections.  Stacy Mienro, Head of Twitter Arthouse said it best: “Learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist.” Since the rules of branding are what put the pressures of perfection in place, our job is to help our brands impart a bit more humanity into everything they create and how it shows up in the world. Sometimes, that might be achieved by adding a personal touch to ads wherever possible. Other times, it could entail capitalizing on moments where we can build trust with consumers. And once in a while, it may simply require us owning up to our mistakes should they ever be made. Hey – we’re only human, after all.   Authors Thays Tejeda Kristen Forbes Nikki D'Amato Marianne Lukes

Defined by Defiance: How AMP Agency Embodied Naughty this Holiday Season

The holiday season means something different to everybody. For some, it’s about snowball fights with friends and baking cookies with grandma. For others, it’s all about celebrating traditions and spending time with family. And for us at AMP, the holidays are when we as an agency get to show appreciation for our wonderful clients with a gift of our very own creation.  It really has become quite the tradition – using our agency’s creative capabilities to craft something our clients can truly enjoy. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at what we made for our clients in 2018. We feel these custom-made gifts are a great way for us to connect with clients during the holidays in a way that reflects who we are at AMP. But with any good tradition, there comes a time when things need to be shaken up. That’s why instead of crafting a creatively thoughtful gift this year, we decided to do something different; something a smidge outside the box; something a bit, well, naughty. This past holiday, AMP rebranded coal as the hottest gift of the season and sent it to some of our clients on the East Coast. WHEN THINGS WENT “BAD” It all began in the heat of summer. It was mid-July, temperatures were high, and our Boston creative team thought “hey – let’s talk winter.” Because in an agency setting, timing is everything, especially when it comes to the creative process. As a team, we needed to give ourselves enough opportunity to ideate on something people would not only enjoy, but that would stick out to them amongst other gifts they’d receive. That’s why in order to get things right, the first of many brainstorming sessions started five months ahead of the holiday season. During that first brainstorming session, COAL was one of the very first concepts we came up with – although we didn’t envision the luxury branding, bold copy and seamless UX design that came out of this project right from the get-go. We simply liked the idea of elevating something from bad to badass, and we felt that a lump of coal could be a cool place to start. Since we didn’t just want to go with our first thought, so we continued to think up as many festive ideas as we could for our holiday gift. There was talk of Mrs. Claus taking over the season, mention of making a festive video game, and some serious consideration for custom-branded hot sauce. Yet after compiling our ideas into a list as long as Santa’s, COAL still remained at the very top. So we rolled with it. CHISELING AWAY With our concept in place, we knew we needed to capture the essence of COAL in a shareable format. So after lengthy discussions about what COAL truly means and days spent deciphering exactly how we wanted to bring this experience to life, we were ready to begin crafting a brand that would encourage people to “Embody Naughty” at every possible touchpoint. Building out the COAL brand began with pinning first, second and third drafts of logo exploration on a wall for full-scale critiques. From there, we sourced artists in France to craft our COAL resin cubes, tracked down decadent chocolates our clients could devour, built an eCommerce web experience from scratch, captured the look of COAL in black and white photography, and designed the perfect packaging to tie everything together. As everything came to life, we also shot an anthem video that could live on our eCommerce site and across social. Written, directed, filmed and produced entirely in-house, our COAL video took a total of four days to film, but those days were scattered throughout many late nights and lunch breaks. Once final video edits were made and the last caption for the @coal_by_amp Instagram was written, everything was ready to be sent to clients and shared with the world. THE OUTCOME By mid-December, our website was launched, our Instagram was live, and our clients were given the hottest gift of the holiday season as a token of our appreciation. Our full list of deliverables included an anthem video, an “eComm” microsite, a faux Instagram page, and a mailed COAL branded package containing a designed COAL card, a resin coal paperweight, high-end chocolates with an AMP-branded ribbon, and a nice bottle of wine with a black label. All in all, we’re quite proud of this project. Not only was COAL a unique way for us to express our appreciation for our clients, but it illustrates that when you work in a creative environment, sometimes, it’s good to be defiant.  Want to score yourself a spot on the naughty list? Check out all COAL has to offer here.