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Blog post
June 25, 2019

Bring on the AI overlords: from a content marketer

Artificial intelligence (AI). Just saying the words invokes visions of an apocalyptic future teeming with deadly machines like The Terminator or even software like The Matrix’s Agent Smith. At least that’s the dystopia the scaremongers are peddling. If the latest hype is anything to go by, AI will not only change life on earth as we know it, it will probably take your job too.

As an editor, content marketer and millennial, it appears my head is on the chopping block. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 20 per cent of business content will be authored by machines, and many are speculating that journalists will cease to exist. Add Elon Musk comparing AI to a demon, and even I’m spooked.

But I won’t pack up my desk just yet. Here’s why.

We’re surrounded by AI

Let’s be honest: this is nothing new. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation have been around for quite a while, and we’ve all been targeted by Facebook’s AI-applied targeted advertising and subject to Google AdWords’ AI-powered, automated bidding for years.

Your top picks on Netflix? AI technology fuels its recommendation engine. Apple’s personal assistant, Siri? She’s machine learning to better predict, understand and answer your questions. Google? Depends on AI to rank your search results.

But the machines haven’t taken over yet. Despite it trickling into everyday life, AI is still in its infancy. Instead of conjuring images of alien robots, we should really think of the technology as a baby Bicentennial Man in nappies – waiting for us to teach it.

AI is growing up fast

To be useful for content marketing, AI needs a mammoth amount of fresh, structured data.

Its power lies in its ability to analyse large data sets to reveal patterns and trends. Feed it enough high-quality data and it will be able to predict share prices or a human’s lifespan and, in some cases, even write content.

Natural language generation (NLG) is a type of AI software capable of producing coherent, readable text. NLG robo-journalists are already creating basic sports content and corporate earnings reports. But, as smart as it is, NLG isn’t truly independent – it needs very specific data sets and templates before it can write, and it can’t create anything genuinely new.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t use the technology. In the realm of content marketing, AI can gather, sort and make sense of oceans of data – something the industry is swimming in.

AI: Spotting trends, making predictions

Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you they’re ‘data driven’.

Sure, we’re data driven. We look at engagement metrics to tell us what’s working, and change things accordingly to make them work better and inform future decisions. But it’s generally retrospective.

A lot of what we do is still based on instinct. We still speak to real people. We still search online to understand what people are asking. We still study search volumes.

What we need is the ability to predict something before it needs to be changed. This is where the opportunity for AI is in content marketing right now.

Exciting stuff for a content marketer working in a media and data intelligence business. We’re already using our own AI to process seven million news items every day, at a rate of 234 stories per second.

With that much data, our software can make strong recommendations about what type of content we should be creating, and for whom. As it evolves (and learns), it should be able to spot trends and patterns early, informing communications strategies and helping businesses to maximise opportunity and minimise risk.

Humans and AI, living together

AI and predictive analytics will help content marketers understand who they should be talking to and what they should be saying, but it’s up to us to create the content.

AI relies on human data and intelligence to function and learn. At least for now, this is where its limitations lie.

Humans are still needed to create original work that connects with its audience at an emotional level. To completely replace a writer or content marketer, AI would need to have an opinion, think abstractly, be curious and show emotion.

So, while your inbox might be full of propaganda alluding to our impending cyberdoom, we’re not there yet.

However, we shouldn’t be naïve, as the way we work is being transformed. To stay in the game, we should spearhead the change rather than hiding in the corner.

I for one welcome working with our new robot overlords, and I urge you all to join me. As the machine said, “Come with me if you want to live.”

Disclaimer: This article was not written by a robot.

Paige Richardson, Isentia Strategy & Content

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The immediate challenge is not killer robots, its job replacement. If individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

The robots are coming. Although often spoken of in future tense, the truth is machine learning is well and truly here. Without realising, consumers interact with ‘smart’ technology at almost every touch point; from robotic vacuums to facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to complete tasks faster, cheaper and – sometimes - more effectively than ever before.

In an economy that’s driven by speed and efficiency, it should come as no surprise that a computer’s ability to communicate at a trillion bits per second is favoured above the human capability of about 10 bits.

McKinsey recently reported that 40 per cent of work tasks can be automated using existing technology, prompting everyone from factory workers to lawyers and accountants to consider the threat of being replaced by robots as not just inevitable, but imminent.

For technologists, we are witnessing first-hand how this emerging field is transforming the companies we work for.

In my work at Isentia, we use machine learning to process seven million news items each day. Not long ago this was a task relegated performed solely by humans with the mind-numbing task of flipping through newspapers in search of stories that might relate to a client.

We have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible.

Today, machines trawl video, audio and digital content across over 5,500 new sites at a rate of 234 stories per second and present meaningful summaries to clients in real-time.

Whether a story breaks on Twitter and then spills across news platforms and onto television and radio, machine learning can track and analyse how a story evolves with 99 per cent accuracy.

While AI is revolutionising the way that we work, the impact is far greater for those in the tech industry. In our mission to develop software that can learn complex problems without needing to be taught how, the success of the AI industry ultimately comes down to technology professionals: our ability to automate, and the pace at which we expand the field of machine learning.

With an annual growth rate of 19.7 per cent percent (predicted to be worth $15.3 billion by 2019), it’s safe to say our foot is well and truly on the pedal. While this relies greatly on our technical capabilities, it is something that challenges many of us ethically: what set of values should AI be aligned with?

Two of the greatest technologists of our times, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, have spoken about both the potential benefit and the harm that an AI arms race could deliver. An eradication of disease is not unfathomable, but nor is a threat to humanity. They hold grave concerns as to whether or not robots can be controlled against misuse or malfunction.

While thought provoking, the immediate challenge is not killer robots, it’s job replacement. Employment may not seem like an ethical problem, but if individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak. While the phrase ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ has forged its way into the 9-to-5 vernacular, for most people, jobs create a huge sense of personal and professional satisfaction… not to mention a means to pay bills.

An apocalypse might be somewhat melodramatic, however I do agree that it is important to consider just how closely we should merge biological and digital intelligence.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here? It’s both exciting and terrifying. The last time we experienced a revolution like this was in the early 1900s when cars, telephones and the airplane all emerged at once.

Contrary to the hype, there lies an enormous opportunity for humans to work with artificial intelligence, not be replaced by it.

Make no mistake: at some level every job can be carried out by a robot. But there are certain jobs, particularly in technology, that require decision making, planning or coding software.

While computers do a brilliant job of executing well-defined activities - such as telling us the fastest route to get from home to work - it is safe to say that humans are an essential component of goal setting, interpreting results, humour, sarcasm and implementing common sense checks.

The most difficult jobs to automate are those that involve managing and developing people. While in this industry most of our jobs are safe (for now), we should heed the advice of Musk and Hawkings and protect those outside our field by proceeding with caution. How then to facilitate human and robots working together harmoniously without the workforce morphing into cyborgs? The secret is to not sail out farther we can row back.

As technologists, we also have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible. It's the best, and most ethical, way to prepare for the inevitable advent of AI.

First publish in CIO New Zealand

Andrea Walsh, CIO

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Blog
It’s time to slow down the AI arms race

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

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Photo of stakeholders engaging with insights as part of an organisation strategy

Insights promote action and change with stakeholders

Research, measurement and evaluation needs to promote action with relevant stakeholders including the general public. It’s easy to fall into a trap of measuring something because you think you should or because someone has asked for a few charts on a communication team's activity. But your stakeholder engagement strategy is missing an opportunity to create long term impact with key audiences.   

Stakeholders (internal and external) are an effective resource for driving change and shifting narratives. Stakeholders are a crucial avenue for advocacy of communications activity but are usually not provided with the necessary information. They need motivation to change their behaviour and support your objectives. 

A project that champions this is the Media and Gender research the Isentia insights team produced with Sport New Zealand. This research examines how women are portrayed across sports news in New Zealand and shines a light on where there is work to do. The research itself is engaging and builds rich insight into an area often not looked at on this scale. The most success lies in how research helped motivate and support behaviour change within the primary stakeholder - the media.

Move stakeholders with data-led evidence

Editor of The LockerRoom, Suzanne McFadden, said this study encourages national representation of women in sport,

“A surge in women's sport in NZ media, but a fall in female bylines, highlight the latest Sport NZ study - which also shows where LockerRoom leads the pack.”

Article referencing the research and how it's impacting women in sports coverage by online news publication, RNZ. An example of stakeholder engagement strategy
Article referencing the research and how it's impacting women in sports coverage by online news publication, LockerRoom. An example of stakeholder engagement strategy in action.

Jennie Wylie, Netball New Zealand’s Chief Executive said to Radio New Zealand, that media coverage plays a vital role in female participation in sports,

"What we do know is the cost of our young people not participating in sport, and the gap for young women and girls in that participation, it plays out in terms of media coverage, so if you can't see it, you can't be it."

Sport New Zealand was able to build a stakeholder engagement strategy using data and research that goes beyond numbers. It encourages those at the source of reporting to strive to improve. 

Here are some tips on how to rethink your approach to research and evaluation, so your organisation can do the same: 

4 considerations for your stakeholder engagement strategy

1. Don’t only focus on your own activity

It’s easy to fall into the measurement trap of focusing on your own activity and neglect your audience and sector. It’s important to understand if your communication is successful, but you're missing key opportunities (and threats) that you can only see if your research lens is wider.

2. The value of pre-research

Research performs at its best when used to determine where you should be going instead of only where you’ve been. Bring research into your planning early and give insight into what your audiences already experience as well as their responses and their preferences, so you can tailor your organisation’s activity based on evidence. 

3. Use your evidence to generate conversations

Engage all your stakeholders in the research process and as early as possible to increase their investment in the results, regardless if it means changing their own behaviour. The more measurement and research is collaborative and unites stakeholders within a common purpose, the more effectively it will spur change.

4. Measure more than once

Changing audiences and information requires your organisation’s research lens to focus on what's relevant to your objectives and audiences. 

measurement lens graphic for stakeholder engagement strategy.
A blue and white gradient graphic

Talk to the experts about how Isentia insights can refocus your stakeholder engagement strategy

Ultimately, research should help drive conversations, and in those conversations is where you can create change. It doesn’t always work the first time, so be persistent - it’s worth it! 

Contact us to discuss how we can create a tailored measurement programme that supports your goals.

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Thought Leadership
A targeted stakeholder engagement strategy in 4 steps

To have an impactful stakeholder engagement strategy you must use the right data-led insights to drive interest in your objectives.

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The state of the electric vehicle industry in Malaysia

Malaysia's automotive industry is one of the more environmentally-friendly industries. Various parties, such as the government and local automotive industry players, have continuously sought to promote electric vehicles (EVs). 

The subject of electric vehicles (EV) is growing among the Malaysian public in the social media sphere due to continuous efforts to promote EVs by various parties such as the government, local automotive industry players as well as companies directly involved in several aspects of EV (charging facilities/networks etc.)


Using data from Pulsar, Isentia analysed the conversations surrounding the topic of EV amongst Malaysia's social media users.

 

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How did discussions involving electric vehicles in Malaysia go?

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In this word bank powered by Isentia’s vast datasets, some of the most common keywords used by Malaysians when discussing EVs, apart from the topic itself, are 'drive', 'chargers', and 'battery'. EV is also associated with ‘future’ and ‘expensive’.

Across the country, social media users agreed that Malaysia is lagging behind neighbouring nations (such as Indonesia and Thailand) in EV facilities and vehicle development. They also agree that EVs are only accessible to rich people in the country because of a lack of affordable options and that the Malaysian government and other players should do more to promote electric vehicles as a practical form of transportation.

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What are the audience segments that have been talking about electric cars online?

Malaysian social media users who are more interested in electric vehicles are most interested in watching movies and TV. The three main audience segments include the Conservatives, Technology Enthusiasts, and Innovation Seekers. They are predominantly male audiences aged between 18 and 24. 

They also have high media affinity with Malaysia's prominent media outlets, such as Astro Awani, Bernama, and technology-focused outlets, such as Amanz and Digital News Asia.

 

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Conservatives follow social media accounts of mainstream news outlets and the government (ministers, ministries, agencies etc.) They believe government policies would benefit their daily lives, such as EV-related ones.

Technology enthusiasts seek out exciting posts on new technologies and actively participate in discussions surrounding them. They are advocates of technologies that would make the environment that they live in better, as well as efficient technologies.

Innovation seekers are actively sharing news and involved in conversations about innovations that enhance the development of industries relying on the newest technology. They tend to evolve their lifestyles accordingly and embrace innovations available at their disposal.

 

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What are the catalysts of EV discussions among Malaysians?

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Several points between April and July 2022 peaked due to active discussions among Malaysians on EV:

Launch of Automotive High-Tech Valley on 14 April - The launch would assist in positioning Malaysia as a hub for EV manufacturers and component suppliers to the ASEAN market.

Foxconn announced plans to build a facility in Malaysia on 19 May - Taiwanese company Foxconn plans to build a chip production facility in Malaysia with Malaysia's Dagang NeXchange Berhad to fulfil the demand for EV semiconductors.

Criticism of parking at charging facilities on 10 June - There was criticism towards road users in Malaysia who parked their vehicles at EV charging facilities.

Samsung develops plant in Malaysia on 21 June - Samsung SDI Energy Malaysia Sdn Bhd announced that they are developing a RM7 billion plant in Negeri Sembilan to pioneer the EV battery cell industry in the country.

First Range Extended EV developed in Malaysia on 21 July - Mimos Berhad has developed the first Range Extended Electric Vehicle (RE-EV) in Malaysia with the cooperation of Motosikal dan Enjin Nasional Sdn Bhd (Modenas) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP).

Get in touch with Isentia today to learn more about what consumers are saying about your brand. 

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Isentia Malaysia Case Study | Electric Vehicle (EV) Conversations in Malaysia’s Social Media Sphere
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How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia.

What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar's recent report on the online conversation on sunscreen and SPF, we can understand how audience intelligence and media monitoring can help organisations direct and target their messaging and operations in response to (for example) significant regulatory changes. 

Last year the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced the release of the new Therapeutic Advertising Code that came into A pivotal reform to the code involves restrictions on testimonials and endorsements of therapeutic goods in advertising, including social media. Influencers were flurrying about how they would continue to promote therapeutic products like sunscreens, skinny teas, collagen powders and the like within Australia. 

The code allows for genuine, unpaid testimonials in advertising. Still, it prohibits influencers from making testimonials or endorsements based on their own experiences due to using a product. They can only stick to communicating the product's aims and purpose as claimed by the product's labelling and instructions. The recommendation must also align with the product's purpose, as the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods records.

So why is this happening, and how can influencers still operate under these new regulations? The TGA ensures that consumers can trust that recommendations are unbiased without the influence of incentives, including gifts. There is a further requirement for social media influencers to include mandatory statements in their advertisements depending on the type of product and its availability to the public. The TGA also highlighted that they aren't making any unusual changes but are just aligning advertising on new platforms with code that previously targeted more traditional forms of advertising.

The code requires all testimonials that are in breach to have been taken down by July 1st.

But some influencers have not taken to the new regulations well, believing the new rules will hinder a critical source of information for consumers and audiences. Australian sunscreen (Naked Sundays) owner Samantha Brett, told the Sydney Morning Herald Emerald City she believes sunscreen should be exempt from the laws asking, "How else will those who are influenced by social media, particularly Millennials who are most at risk of melanoma, be encouraged to use sunscreen every day."

On August 22nd, Got-to Skincare's founder Zoe Foster Blake posted a statement on Instagram to announce the release of a new SPF 50 sunscreen product and how the code impinges people's sun protection practices and knowledge.

“I believe elements of the code have the potential to reverse the momentum public health, cancer awareness groups, and skin specialists have been building for years to ensure Australians wear sunscreen daily”.

Foster-Blake goes on to highlight how some still find sunscreen polarising and unappealing. 

“Many consumers still believe sunscreen is gross, thick, greasy. It’s not.”

But are younger demographics, influenced by social media, confused about sunscreen use? Social discussion would say the answer is yes. Where to apply, how many times to reapply and in what settings is wearing sunscreen necessary are some questions people are asking.

Social media conversation around sunscreen is evolving and recorded by Pulsar as a therapeutic good that goes beyond a necessary use case. Sunscreen is feeling the influences of climate change activists and holistic beauty trend-setters tied to long-term health values.

@sethobrien using the recommended amount of sunscreen for the first time #skincare @cerave ♬ original sound - Sethobrien

Promoting sunscreen and daily SPF use on social media has a positive impact on long-term health and beauty maintenance and protection against skin cancers; 51.1% of Australians' reasons for applying sunscreen, as discussed in online conversation, is to protect against skin cancers.

There is still confusion around SPF levels and growing concerns around online conversation promoting misinformation that sunscreen use increases the likelihood of ailments like melanoma, reportedly one of the most common cancers in young adults.

Social media conversation and prolific posting of beauty & wellness-related content frame spaces where skincare brands can find their niche. Brands like Cerave and Supergoop are finding ways to differentiate their branding to appeal to specific communities (meet their communities in the full report). Is this new code holding social media influencers to account for their sway over masses of followers? Or is it taking away a vital information-sharing source? Time will tell if the regulations will significantly impact beauty and wellness influencer marketing in Australia. However, the effects may be taking hold now. If you look up sunscreen and SPF on tiktok, you will notice a decrease in related content since the end of 2021.

Avoid the risk of getting burnt and check the code to ensure you’re not in breach.

Discover the full report

Want to understand how therapeutic goods are driving beauty trends and changing the intersection between health and beauty? Download Pulsar’s report “Applying audience intelligence to Sunscreen”.

Contact Isentia to stay on top of media topics that impact your organisation!

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Will wellness brands need to rethink how they use and apply influencer marketing?

How the recent Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is changing the rules around skincare advertising in Australia. What has an influencer endorsement or testimonial influenced you to buy lately? Would you have purchased it otherwise? Well, you may see less of this type of advertising in the coming years in Australia. Using Pulsar’s recent report on the online […]

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