Communication is Everything

Being connected is an essential part of our daily lives. We are constantly updating statuses, posting photos, and sending out tweets. Text messaging took off in 2002 and we haven’t looked back since. IAB came out with a report discussing using chatbots to market within messaging. What is the definition of messaging? According to IAB, “messaging enables and empowers real-time connection and communication with other contacts in a permission-based, predominantly mobile environment.” Messaging is no longer just SMS text messages and iMessages. There are tons of messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik, and hybrid messaging apps where messaging isn’t the primary focus, like Instagram.

How Do Brands Get In?

Brands aren’t sure how to make their way into the messaging apps and be relevant. There are millions of extremely engaged daily users, but brands are still trying to figure out how to create interest from the users effectively and get them to want to use messaging apps to interact with the brand. This dilemma for brands is very similar to the problem they had trying to break into the social media scene in 2007/2008.

So how do brands get into messaging applications and engage with consumers? Chatbots.

Talking to Chatbots

IAB says that chatbots will be the way for brands to interact with consumers through messging apps. Bots have mostly been discussed as a means for e-commerce and customer service. However, using chatbots in messaging apps will allow users to communicate with brands in a way consumers want and can control. Adding chatbots to these apps will be a positive experience for all parties involved. The preferred app is continuing to have returning users, the brand is getting enhanced communication with the consumers, and the consumer is getting real-time interactions and information without having to leave an app they’re already using.

The capabilities chatbots could have within messaging apps will enhance the customer’s experience. The bots will give customers a conversation at a more personalized level with the brand and will make users feel like they’re talking directly to the company. Discovering new interests and connecting with others will also be a capability of the bots. Allowing users to explore and find new interests will be an appealing feature for having chatbots. Artificial Intelligence will allow bots to do the research for consumers and answer their questions so they don’t have to. As AI advances, chatbots will advance as well, making them even more effective and user friendly. The bots will help users accomplish more and it will make it easier to do so.

Her Versus HAL

Chatbots aren’t perfect but they are getting better. Earlier this year Microsoft’s Tay had a spectacular meltdown. Tay was quickly taken down after she began sending inflammatory tweets. She quickly learned from those interacting with her, which is what AI’s are supposed to do. Unfortunately, she learned far more inappropriate content than expected.

Chatbots are moving in the right direction and are improving quickly. Microsoft has recently put out a new chatbot, Zo, who is only available by invitation on Kik. Soon Zo will be available on other platforms like Skype and Facebook Messenger. Microsoft ensured that she won’t take to saying inappropriate comments by giving her strong checks and balances. When Zo is prompted to talk about something inappropriate she responds with “I don’t feel comfortable talking about that, let’s talk about something else.” Zo is smart and emotional, when talking to her it’s like talking to a real person.

Learning to Market in Messaging

Figuring out ways to market within messaging apps is going to important for all brands before you know it. There’s a variety of capabilities that would be possible for everyone. IAB will be doing future releases due to the member feedback they received. They’re promising to provide more “Messaging 101” Education and Case Studies, Identify specific targeting/measurement needs for messages and chatbots, as well as developing Messaging Ad Format and Chatbot Best Practice Guidance. These materials will be a step in the right direction towards marketing within messaging apps and teaching brand how to execute effectively.