INNOCOS interview with Andy Mauro, Co-founder & CEO, Automat

– Can you please give a short overview of the services and products Automat provides?

Automat is helping companies use AI to have personalized one-on-one conversations with their customers, fans, and followers and provides everything required to be successful with Conversational Marketing – specifically a cloud-based platform, proprietary AI technology, and dedicated services teams to create a compelling end-user experience that aligns with business goals.

– How has AI already been disrupting the beauty market? What tech have we seen? AI has been disrupting the beauty market in a variety of ways. One of the challenges that beauty consumers face is being overwhelmed by the number of options available to them and determining which products are best for their specific needs. AI-powered beauty bots achieve 80%+ completion rates for diagnostic and quizzes that inform the delivery of personalized tips, recommendations, and inspiration. Complementary technologies like image analysis and augmented reality (from players such as Modiface, Revieve, and others) can be used in bots and other channels to analyze people’s skin complexion or face shape (from a selfie or live video) and make recommendations or enable virtual try-on of products.

AI has also started to disrupt Influencer Marketing. One good example of that is the bot that we’ve created for CoverGirl and modeled after Kalani Hilliker, a 16-year-old American dancer, model and TV personality. Kalani was chosen as an influencer by CoverGirl for the great engagement that she gets from her fans on social media. The marketing team was stunned to discover that the bot received 1400% more conversations than the average number comments per posts from the real Kalani, and more than 2M minutes of engagement, without any paid media.

 

– Do you predict it will have a major impact on the market moving forward? If so, in what ways?

Definitely. With recent social media scandals and a growing mistrust of big-tech whose business models rely on monitoring consumers, marketers will have to start looking into technologies that can effectively reach and understand consumers in a more direct and transparent way. It’s particularly true in the beauty industry where the need for personalization is so high. Companies like L’Oréal, Coty and Estée Lauder are investing in AI and more particularly Conversational Marketing because it is a true game-changer that allows them to learn about their consumers in their own words. Brands will be able to leverage new tools to have ongoing conversations with their customers. Brands who successfully deliver hyper-personalized content and product recommendations via messaging channels will build stronger relationships with consumers across the home, in-store and mobile.

 

– Are beauty brands ready for AI and its potential? If not, how can they prepare?

Most of the brands are ready: they have invested in e-commerce capabilities, they know how to drive traffic to it, and they have CRM in place to capture consumers data. The biggest challenge is actually a human one: many teams are afraid of AI because they don’t fully understand how it works and overestimate the level of changes needed in the organization to make it work. But the leading AI solutions emerging on the market now have the necessary experience to integrate with the existing tech and marketing stack easy. That being said, a change of mindset is indeed necessary to get the best of AI, and more particularly from Conversational Marketing. A conversation is different from a campaign in a way that it is an ongoing correspondence, not a one-time event. We’ve found that if you use your first conversation with a consumer to learn a little bit about them, and then use this to personalize your follow-up notifications, the read rates can be over 80% and the response rates over 40%, which is way higher than what email gets. But this can only be achieved if the content and marketing calendar for bots is tuned to the benefits of this new channel instead of trying to shoehorn it into the web and app model.

 

– Any other thoughts?

There’s no question that AI expectations have been overly inflated in the past, but it would be a great mistake to think that AI is just a buzzword. Early adopters who are using AI to solve specific problems are already seeing results. All those early adopters have one thing in common: they picked the right partner, with actual proprietary AI expertise, PhDs on staff and beauty expertise, to help them achieve their goals.

 

UPCOMING EVENTS

June 14-15, 2018, INNOCOS World, Grand Hotel Mediterraneo, Florence, Italy

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