Detail Post

AI in Social Media Advertising

It’s been 63 years since the field of artificial intelligence (AI) was first introduced as an academic discipline, but put the term in front of the average person – regardless of what industry they work in – and you’ll typically get a glazed look and a mutter of something about computers or robots.

While we’re still lacking the advancements in AI of visionaries like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, AI itself is very much alive and well in multiple industries, and has been for close to a decade. One of those is advertising, where AI processes have been battering down barriers for years, doing amazing work in the form of processing and analyzing Big Data to find patterns that might take a team of employees months or years to uncover, if they could so so at all. This form of AI, more commonly known as Machine Learning (ML), isn’t taking human jobs, it’s augmenting them, and getting them away from the monotony of bureaucratic jobs and back into the free space of developing campaigns and making big-picture decisions on the best way forward.

AI in Social Media Advertising

Mark Zuckerberg’s social network king might have seen some bumpy back roads the past couple of years over how much data it is collecting and what it is doing with it down the road, but trying to deny the power of social media advertising means you’re either blind of in denial at this point. Until recently, most of the work done by AI in the social media niche was limited to three categories: Optimization, testing, and recognition patterns.

The first, was great for things like tweaking emails, web content, and mobile content: Notching the correct keywords, and using the right tone for the right audience are tasks made possible by ML. Testing is also done quickly thanks to the Big Data capability involved. What would take days or weeks to coalesce is whittled down to seconds. What’s previously escaped social media advertisers with AI as been the social part of things – we’re talking about individual relationships and real-time interactions, not the colder scientific aspects of ML.

That’s before the current round of breakthroughs, which will allow digital marketers to customize messaging in social media advertising to the look and feel of every individual user, not just the customer segment niche they fall into. These will be true one-to-one campaigns, like if your TV could view everything you’ve watched, read, and shopped for in the last 20 years and play you a commercial accordingly.

What this means for auto sales 

This type of social media AI is nothing short of a golden goose come home to roost for the auto sales leads industry. Internet advertising has painted with a broad brush when it comes to pairing customer segments with automobile ads. Geography, income level, and gender have always topped the list of what ad to send across that screen. This sort of AI involvement means it’s time to dream bigger and be bigger than that. Let’s run through an example or two to really grasp the scope of this new tech. The first is Daisy, a young, single professional woman who is ready to move past her clunker from college and invest in a vehicle that fits her station in life. She’s not tied down so she’s looking for something sleek but fuel-efficient. When the new AI crawls her Facebook and Instagram profiles, it picks up on her age, where she works, and what places she’s frequently checking in to. They are mostly restaurants in the area where she works and fun places like karaoke bars and baseball games on the weekend. Her pictures feature friends and coworkers, not significant others and children. Even her typical outfit color choices can be read by the ML interface. 

The pictures and posts let the ML churn out that Daisy is not married and has no kids, meaning safety and space available for “stuff” are minimal concerns for her when considering a new vehicle. Her outfits trend more towards conservative and fun then outgoing and flashy, so a sports car doesn’t seem like her type of ride. Then there’s all those check-ins on social media at local restaurants. ML uses Google Maps to plot a course of everywhere she usually hits for lunch and works up a list of dealerships that she regularly passes by to and from lunch, heck she probably sees their dealer names so many times she could probably tell you all the names in her sleep. And when those names start popping up on Daisy’s social media pages advertising sedans and small SUVs that get solid mileage at at an affordable price, they’ll be right in her wheelhouse. It’s not just a blind stab at her business based on where she lives, it’s an efficient use of data analysis to touch on precisely what the customer wants.

Our other example is Oscar, a married father of three who is retiring this year and who is about to start helping his daughter get her toddler to daycare three times a week. Oscar’s been a sports car guy his whole life, loving the American muscle cars of his youth and their modern-day equivalent: Camaros, Vettes, Chargers, you name it, he’s owned it. He has a few magazine subscriptions to niche publications, has a Hot Rod group he’s been a member of since the early 1990s, and buys the accessories – wheel covers, driving gloves, you name it. But crawling Oscar’s latest posts and inquiries paints a different picture than the middle-aged speed demon. Now he’s joined a grandparents’ group and is asking questions about the different models of car seats for two-year-olds, and is far more interested in rear-seat legroom than torque and horsepower. He’s gauging safety standards like never before and joining Facebook groups that are full of suburban enthusiasts. Chewing up Oscar’s search patterns and posts reveal that he’s out of the sports car market and will soon be toting around someone who weighs less than 40 pounds and needs to be facing the rear to maximize safety. That means an SUV with plenty of room for playpens and strollers. The analysis becomes a lead for dealerships in Oscar’s neighbrohood – remember he’s retired and no longer takes that long commute – and next time he logs onto Facebook he has the pleasant surprise of ads geared towards the needs of himself and that beautiful first grandbaby.