Artificial Intelligence (AI) has quickly become an integral part of many communication professionals' marketing strategies. It's used to personalise product recommendations, improve customer experience via chatbots, and provide better customer insight through data collection and analysis.
However, a new report released by media company Syzygy has examined how consumers feel about artificial intelligence, and shows that – though there is interest and excitement – there is also fear, concern and confusion concerning the use of AI.
With reintroducing trust into business a key concern for many companies, and the use of AI potentially eroding that trust, how can communication professionals raise confidence in AI?
1) Be transparent
The Syzygy survey found that 29.8 per cent of respondents said they felt "suspicious" towards AI, while 40.5 per cent said they were concerned and 15 per cent even said fearful. This type of fear and mistrust often comes from a lack of understanding, something that's not surprising considering how little is really known about AI.
Communication professionals should, therefore, introduce transparency about all things AI. This should include full disclosure of when AI is being used in marketing, particularly if using chatbots. The same survey found that 79 per cent of respondents believe it should be illegal for bots to conceal their identity and pretend to be humans.
Transparency should also include explanations of how the algorithms that come up with personalised recommendations work. Ad tracking and tailored recommendations are often regarded as creepy, and full disclosure of exactly when this tracking is being used and how would help to lessen some of the suspicion.
— AI (@DeepLearn007) January 21, 2018
2) Show where AI is making a positive impact
All too often, we hear the words AI and our minds immediately jump to robots who will eventually take over the world. That's because almost all of an average person's experience and knowledge of AI comes from movies. Films like The Terminator, I Robot, and 2001: A Space Odyssey all depict dystopian worlds where artificial intelligence has become more adept than humans.
However, the benefits and the very widespread use of AI in our everyday lives is rarely advertised (in turn contributing to the mistrust and lack of transparency associated with it). Algorithms are used so often – in our Spotify and Netflix recommendations, for example – that showing the positive impact it has would be a great way to raise consumer trust.
3) Introduce consent
Nearly three quarters (71 per cent) of Syzgy respondents said that brands should require consumers' explicit consent before they use AI when marketing to them. For example, having a pop-up box on the first page of your website that requests customers' permission to use AI would go a long way in increasing the transparency and trust that AI so sorely lacks.
There's no going back
Artificial intelligence is embedded so greatly into the lives of consumers and marketing that, in all honesty, there's no going back. The way to raise trust in AI is to be as clear as possible about why, how and when AI is being used, educate customers in the positive impact it has, and then give them a choice in whether they want companies to use it.
Edelman's trust barometer revealed trust across the institutions of government, business, media and NGOs was at an all time low in 2017. The only way we can win the confidence of our consumers back is transparency.
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