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Big brands like Microsoft and Gap are using AI to to create personalized ads for people — and the results blow away ads written by humans

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Turns out, artificial intelligence isn’t just helpful for powering chatbots and voice assistants.

It may also be able to help brands create emotionally intelligent ads.

A suite of big name marketers like Microsoft and Gap have started relying on AI to optimize the content of their ads, tapping into ad tech startups like Persado to generate personalized ads based on the language a user is most likely to respond to.

Think of it as an AI-powered, automated copywriting machine.

The Persado platform can be used across web, email, text and social ads, and using the right emotional language can help drive huge results for brands, says co-founder Assaf Baciu, lifting customer engagement and ultimately conversions significantly.

“It’s a lofty goal for marketers to personalize messages,” he said. “By creating such cognitive content, we help brands motivate and engage with consumers better.”

Persado is enabling brands to use AI for narrative storytelling

To be sure, Persado isn’t exactly a new entrant in the ad tech landscape. Baciu and his co-founder Alex Vratskides started the company five years ago in 2012, and the company has had three successful seed funding rounds since then.

Neither is it the only company trying to automate content creation. Automated Insights, for example, has a software called Wordsmith, which is being used by the likes of Associated Press and Yahoo to craft blogs and sports reports.

And of course, there’s IBM’s famed Watson Supercomputer — which has promised for years that machines will make digital ads smarter and more effective.

But while Persado has been helping brands create tailored messages by analyzing marketing data and emotional profiles for a while, it has just added what it is calling the most “sophisticated” update to its platform.

Earlier, Persado could pinpoint the exact words or phrases that would maximize engagement for the brand. Now, it can create an entire narrative, incorporating each individual brand’s unique voice and attributes to each campaign’s context, said the company.

A fashion brand looking to launch a new collection, for example, could tap into Persado to generate taglines around several themes, from affordability (“the right fashion at the right price”) to new arrivals (“just-arrived fashion”) to the season (“new season goals”).

The algorithm would then detect which elements and phrases make the most impact, while ditching the ones that fall flat. Ultimately, it would rearrange everything for optimal positioning, generating a unique marketing message for each individual scientifically created to perform better:

“Just-Arrived Fashion For Your #NewSeasonGoals.”

“Different people react differently to different messages,” Baciu told Business Insider. “Brands can add any tags, attributes or audience segments to the platform and create compelling storytelling unique to their different audiences.”

Brands like Microsoft have started to embrace AI in developing ad campaigns

Data has started to play a big role in how marketers analyze campaign performances and measure campaign results, but it’s played a limited role thus far in determine what ads actually look like and say.

But that’s changing for brands like Microsoft.

Microsoft’s rewards team, for example, relies heavily on e-mail marketing, sending monthly account statements as well as newsletters.

The team has been using Persado to test a variety of subject lines, dialing up on aspects that work while getting rid of the ones that don’t. The company has found, for example, that using the “check mark” or “tick” emoji on the subject lines helps drive the open rate up.

“Rewards marketing is very e-mail centric but people are inundated with emails, so the need to be able to precisely understand the success of what works is key,” said Margaret Knight, senior marketing consultant at Microsoft, adding that the company had seen an increase of 20% in clickthrough rates.

US online electronics retailer Adorama also recently used Persado to build more meaningful relationships with customers via e-mail, seeing its engagement rate rise by as much as 163%.

The average uplift for brands, according to Baciu, is as much as 41%, with some brands seeing a return on investments of anywhere between 7 to 10%.

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