As an attendee of DealMaker New York, there was a lot of informative sessions packed into one very busy day. Between networking and attending hours-worth of industry insights, it’s difficult to fully absorb everything that was covered. So, we have made available a quick guide on the important points made during the two main panels at DealMaker; the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning panel, and the publisher showcase panel.

Key Takeaways from the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Panel:

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a topic that our industry is constantly talking about and something not everyone can fully understand quite yet. The expert panelists were asked to define what AI and machine learning is. Rakuten Marketing, CTO, Neal Richter described it as “automated intelligence.” The goal of artificial intelligence is teaching a machine how to reason and assist you as the consumer. He also called it a “digital assistance.” Similar to what Neal has described in other interviews, AI is created to ease digital interaction for consumers. Think of it working similarly to how Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music works.  Eventually, these music platforms learn your specific tastes and preferences in music. Once these preferences become recognizable, the platform can begin to give recommendations on other music it thinks you’ll like. It’s able to make these suggestion based on what you have already taught it with your music selections and now it’s able to enhance your music experience by bringing you new songs and artists that fit your taste. This concept being stretched across anything and everything a consumer may search online is what AI and machine learning is all about. Creating ways consumers can teach machines their preferences on a variety of things that the machine can then eventually use to tailor recommendations, leading consumers to new great brands and products that fit their lifestyle, preferences and needs.

Common Myths Vs. Real Future Concerns

Although AI will be a great advocate for advertisers and increase personalized experiences for consumers, there are still some concerns about the negative affects artificial intelligence may have on both parties. For advertisers, and others that work with AI, many worry about AI taking their jobs. However, the panel reassured that this will not be an issue and instead should be viewed as a positive opportunity for the workplace. “AI will free up time to do other, more important things,” stated Neal. AI gives an opportunity to get more done in a less amount of time by automating a lot of current processes.

As far as consumers go, technological innovation will always create either interest or fear. Right now, consumers are becoming more and more comfortable with interacting with artificial things like chatbots, etc. However, it’s important that AI err on the side of being very personable to avoid giving an “uncanny valley” feel to it. Some people hear “artificial intelligence” and they envision a robot looking to overrule the human race but really consumers need to think of it as the opposite. AI is intended to harmoniously integrate with consumers’ lives in a way that benefits them. Consumers should think of home assistants, like Alexa or google home, that is created to solely assist and answer to whoever owns them.

Impact on Advertising

The success of advertising is directly correlated with whether or not consumers receive, enjoy and engage with advertisements. Since the aim of AI and machine learning is to create more tailored digital experiences for consumers, the impact it will have on advertising will be a positive one because the impact it will have on consumers’ lives is also positive. This can be tied back to Rakuten Marketing CEO, Stuart Simms, beginning remarks of DealMaker. The key to successful advertising is finding a perfect combination of love and science. Science being data and insights and love being understanding the nuances of people. Through collecting data and insights from what consumers reveal as things they prefer and love, AI can aid in delivering this balanced combination of love and science. AI is the next step in marketing that will truly serve consumers in the best way and have a large impact on the success of the advertising industry.

Key Takeaways from the Publisher Showcase:

The topic for DealMaker New York’s publisher panel was “Going Global: Using Affiliate to Expand Beyond Your Borders.” The publishers gave tips based on their own experience with going global for brands that are thinking of expanding, as well as why brands should take advantage of selling to other markets outside of the U.S.

The Opportunities of Going Global

The best part about ecommerce is that ecommerce shoppers are worldwide; however, “U.S. retailers are oblivious to the opportunities that lie within these smaller markets,” stated Anthony Capano, Rakuten Marketing Managing Director of Europe & APAC. Other publishers agreed on this note and stated that they’ve often found Chinese, Brazilian and other consumers outside of the U.S. visiting their U.S. optimized site. With ecommerce consumers clearly looking to shop outside of their region, it’s a great opportunity for U.S. retailers to expand their brand reach for those consumers who are already finding their way to U.S. sites.

Tips on Going Global

The first suggestion when going global is to keep an open mind. This sounds like a very generic tip but it’s an important one. Expanding a brand takes a lot of patience and testing. So, when saying “keep an open mind,” it’s just as a reminder to not become discouraged if for some reason the first few strategies of going global don’t show a lot of positive growth. The panelists pressed on investing in long-term strategies when walking into a new market. Rather than being too aggressive with the expansion, run some tests and gain research on what works and doesn’t work. Understanding a new market takes patience and time. For example; if you have a lot of Chinese consumers coming to your site, it would be smart to create a campaign around Single’s Day. But also realize that just because you’re having a Single’s Day event doesn’t mean Chinese people are all of a sudden going to come swarming in to buy on that day. As you’re prioritizing nontypical U.S. shopping days, tailor the offers to compete with domestic players in the market. So, for Single’s Day, be sure to create strong deals that these consumers would typically see in China.

It’s also important to keep an open mind on how these consumers outside of the U.S. want to be spoken/advertised to because it will be different than those in the U.S. For example, when it comes to Korean consumers, think of your packaging. Korean consumers place a lot of focus on the boxing of their products. This isn’t meaning that you have to start changing the way products are boxed, but just understanding what different consumers value will help in your global advertising strategies.

Other Insights

Some other interesting insights for brands to consider when going global are as follows:

  1. Savvy Shoppers Remember: It’s tough to fool your consumer and you shouldn’t want to anyways. A savvy consumer will remember what deals you’ve done in the past and will wonder why you aren’t doing something similar, if not better, than before. Be sure to deliver on previous expectations you set for the consumer.
  2. Mobile and Social Consumer: A LOT of consumers will find your brand via mobile and social. Some may even only find your brand that way. Be sure to create solid mobile experiences and increase social ad spend when entering a new marketplace.
  3. Key Verticals: The main verticals that do well in global expansion are fashion, beauty and travel. The key publisher verticals are reward, content and shopping.

For even more in-depth insights like these, keep an eye out for podcasts and videos that will be released on our blog from all our Rakuten Marketing hosted events, which feature publishers and advertisers speaking to the trends and challenges in the industry, how they find ways to show love for their consumers, and much more.