Where will chatbots fit in your marketing plan?

January 19, 2023

Christopher Spong
Chatbots have been taking the marketing industry by storm. With new innovations, many marketers are wondering - where will this fit into our marketing plan?

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Where will chatbots fit in your marketing plan?

The buzz about chatbots

What is ChatGPT?

If you follow tech or marketing news, chances are you’ve been seeing a lot of buzz about chatbots. Specifically, the currently free-to-use ChatGPT has garnered interest from technologists, marketers, and investors with its ability to interpret and produce natural language. Developed by OpenAI and released late in 2022, ChatGPT is a generative AI system that can be used to answer questions, create original written work, or provide instructions.

Ryan Reynolds has also helped propel curiosity about ChatGPT’s marketing utility. The actor asked the AI to draft an ad script for Mint Mobile, which is owned by Reynolds, with interesting results.

What is Bard?

Not to be left behind, Google unveiled its own AI chatbot, called Bard, at an event in Paris earlier this month. Built on Google’s LaMDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), Bard has been under development for several years; however, the release of ChatGPT and investment from Microsoft prompted Google to unveil the chatbot early. Bard is currently in closed beta testing.

How AI chatbots work

Designed to interpret and understand natural language, AI chatbots are built to generate responses to text inputs. As AI models have become more sophisticated, the systems are increasingly able to interpret complex meaning and reply with natural language. What makes generative AI models stand out is their ability to mimic human writing patterns.

What marketers need to know

Current limitations of AI chatbots

Although impressive, AI chatbots have proven to be fallible. Ingestion of fictional works and inaccurate data during training can produce questionable results for users. In testing of ChatGPT, users have reported inaccurate information provided by the chatbot. And just as Google was unveiling Bard, an ad promoting the chatbot showed an inaccurate response, causing Alphabet’s stock price to fall several percentage points.

Additionally, some chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT are not connected to the internet, meaning the model is only capable of producing responses based on what it has “learned” from its original training and inputs provided by users during chat interactions. This means that a user would not be able to ask the ChatGPT about the current weather, the local time, or to respond to current events.

Needless to say, AI models like the ones powering ChatGPT and Bard are only as strong as its training sources and human inputs. OpenAI’s learning process, for example, ended in early 2022, meaning ChatGPT could provide out-of-date information. Biases are also a consequence of utilizing human trainers, who help the models determine the best possible responses to training inputs.

There are also ethical and legal considerations for utilizing a chatbot to produce creative work. Theoretically, OpenAI or Google could claim ownership of commercial materials produced by their chatbots. As paid versions of these products are released, however, marketers could begin to utilize the technology to generate ad copy or draft content.

Uses and utility

In general, AI is already being utilized in various marketing capacities. Ad networks utilize AI models to optimize campaign performance on behalf of advertisers. AI is also used by marketing analysts to review large datasets and predict outcomes. What makes ChatGPT and Bard unique is their ability to generate written work that is difficult to distinguish from work written by a human being.

As the name implies, chatbots are engineered to facilitate chat interactions with prompts and responses from both parties. While chatbot assistants are not new, businesses could soon utilize more powerful AI chatbots, like ChatGPT and Bard, to completely replace customer service representatives. Brand leaders and marketers looking to leverage chatbots on their websites or mobile apps may want to explore these generative AI options to enhance their customer service practices.

Beyond their use for customer service, AI models and chat features are already being incorporated into search engines. Both Microsoft and Google have announced that chatbot search features will be coming soon, which could alter the search experience for users. Rather than providing a list of links with pertinent information to a query, demonstrations of Bing and Google’s chat-based searches have shown how the search engines can produce comprehensive results from multiple sources to answer a query.

While the technologies powering ChatGPT and Bard are exciting, generative AI still has a long way to go before it can be totally relied upon. And although these new chatbots have generated a lot of buzz in the marketing world, it’s important to remember that various types of AI and machine learning are already incorporated into many of the technologies used every day. Even If a chatbot isn’t part of their current marketing strategy, understanding various AI systems and knowing how they can be leveraged will help marketers automate or better complete tasks while requiring less human input.

This POV has been updated to include information about Google’s Bard chatbot after it was unveiled in early February 2023.

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