How AI Can Help Marketers Reach the Distracted Generation

The transition from traditional to online media channels has undoubtedly changed the rules for advertisers – especially when the target group are the Millennials (or Generation Y), the generation behind one of the biggest disruptions in media consumption. Content might still be king, but what if there’s no one to crown it? To discover the secret of engaging and striking content, Twitter and EyeSee analyzed different advertising setups using the latest AI technologies that track people’s emotions and gaze via webcam.

Getting through to the mobile-first generation. During the sixties and the seventies, television was one of the most important mediums for disseminating information, delivering entertainment and fostering socialization. Half a century later, 47% of Gen Xers and Millennials do not watch traditional television, while every third household is without a cable or satellite subscription. The smartphone has thus become the new pivotal gadget and now we have multiple screens fighting for our attention.

Shifting the research spotlight to the subconscious. Although Millennials have distinct consumer habits, they are as “bad” at self-reporting as any generation before them – they struggle with articulating their emotions, they are afraid of social judgment and, ultimately, cannot always grasp the actual reasoning behind their actions. However, the latest behavioral research methods based on AI – such as eye tracking and facial coding – can provide information on how different marketing content stimulates the brain, whether it evokes emotions and how those emotions impact final purchase behavior.

Marketers have merely moments to make an impact. While scrolling through social media, it is impossible to devote more than a split second of attention to each content piece. This means that marketers have a very short time frame to make an impression and they are not only competing with other brands, but with updates from friends and followers, media outlets and many others.

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However, this is exactly why news feed can work in advertisers’ favor, as ads are placed between very engaging content. Here are the key takeaways presented by Twitter and EyeSee at The Market Research Event in Orlando:

1) Context matters. Millennials demand a seamless user experience and do not appreciate being interrupted. This is why marketing messages need to be integrated into relevant context – for example, a sports brand ad inserted into a sports news feed. According to Twitter and EyeSee, this can increase stopping power by a whopping 42%, lead to higher emotional engagement by 24% and drive 26% more people take action. The same principle applies even if the advertiser is not relevant – the creative solution needs to fit into the relevant surroundings.

2) Maximize branding. Consumers want to be aware of with whom they are conversing, and using clear, visible branding in posts and featured content (i.e. a logo/product with a hashtag is better than a logo or product alone) can positively affect ad credibility as well as impact brand image and the likelihood of purchase intent. The same goes for CTA – a simple, direct message about the ideal strategies for boosting consumer-brand interaction which will, ultimately, yield the best result.

3) Product as a creative element. Storytelling is vital for successful advertising, but not more important than the product itself. For example, a holiday celebration in a family setting might elicit emotion, but showing a person giving a gift can actually increase ad impact. Rather than creating the perfect scenery, marketers should focus on highlighting the product within the right context.

We have a long way to go before AI platforms are able to create snappy slogans, but what they can already do is help navigate content toward the customer through the information jungle. Marketers no longer have to rely on educated guesses when creating campaigns, but on concrete data that give us a glimpse into how people consume content and how that impacts their decision-making process. The marketing game has new rules – fortunately, there are new tools as well.