JPMorgan Chase recently announced a 5-year, enterprise-wide deal with Persado, an AI-powered message natural language generation platform, in an effort to create more effective marketing copy. The machine language platform understands language, breaks down marketing creative into critical elements of narrative, emotion, descriptions, calls-to-action, formatting, and word positioning. The five-year deal with JPMorgan Chase follows a multi-year pilot that saw as high as a 450 percent lift in click-through rates on ads rendered by Persado, compared with others in the 50-200 percent range. Read the full Persado press release here.
Get Ready to Watch AI Transform Advertising, Financial Services, and … Everything
Analyst Take: While news that JPMorgan Chase was expanding its relationship with AI startup Persado caused the advertising world to collectively gasp with horror at the very notion that AI could replace copywriting, there are many companies who are already using that technology, and with exciting results.
As someone who’s had a 20+ year career in marketing and who also spends a considerable amount of time writing, when I read headlines that claim that AI can write headlines that outperform those written by copywriters, I pay attention.
In this instance, I’m as interested in the impact AI will have on the advertising industry as I am the transformative impact it will have on the financial services industry.
What is Persado?
Persado, is an almost seven-year-old company founded by folks who call themselves math nerds with an appreciation for and an understanding about the power of language—and the fact that words fuel everything. On that front, I absolutely agree. The technology created by Persado applies mathematical certainty to words, which allows marketers to take the guesswork out of what has historically been a process fueled largely by guesswork.
Persado is an AI-powered machine learning natural language processor that appears to have what it takes to transform both the advertising and financial services industries, for starters.
How AI-Written Copy Changes Advertising
From a marketing standpoint, when you can integrate AI into the campaign development overall, and into the copywriting process in particular, it changes everything. And much like the integration of technology into anything that humans do, that is both good and terrible. Good, because it’s exciting to think about the results that AI can deliver for clients. Terrible, because at ad agencies across the globe, copywriters are moaning over the very idea that AI could ever replace that act: The act of writing, which requires so many things, not the least of which is passion.
I write for a living, I get it. But agencies need to realize the SOP to which they are accustomed is coming to an end—in myriad ways. Advertising copywriting included.
Marketing teams traditionally loosely operate in this manner:
Based on all the information and research we have at our hands, as well as our own hypotheses about our customers, their path to purchase, their needs, desires, and what we think will compel them to action, we create ad campaigns based on what we think this message, or series of messages, deployed in this manner, will produce a desired result.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing are changing that, in exciting ways.
How Persado’s AI Powered Technology Works
Persado’s AI-powered platform takes a creative brief, the brief that contains all of the above information about customers and prospects, and does the heavy lifting, creating what the company claims is the best message to speak to your customers in your brand’s voice across all channels. The company’s knowledge base contains more than a million tagged and scored words, phrases, and images in 25 languages. Today.
Can humans do this? Sure. Can AI do it quicker, and with better results? Seems so.
Persado’s machine learns with every campaign, improving and evolving its language knowledge base, and generating valuable data-based insights into how different language elements resonate with different audiences. Persado continuously generates new insights into both brand and audience, empowering brands with rich analytics on what content connects best with their customers.
The platform is plug and play, which means marketers can experiment with any or all digital channels, and dive in as little or as fully as they want, using and testing at their own pace.
AI is Transforming Financial Services — and JPMorgan Chase Leads the Way
About a year ago, the financial services industry stood up and took notice when JPMorgan Chase hired Apoorv Saxena, Google’s head of product management for cloud-based artificial intelligence. It was clear that the financial services giant was making a big bet on artificial intelligence and wasting no time on integrating AI into its marketing and customer acquisition strategies.
Banks are notorious for being slow, not tremendously customer-focused, and often frustrating to deal with. They also leave a lot of potential business opportunities untapped. AI allows banks to more quickly create new financial products based on insights about customer desires, a process that has historically been somewhat slow.
It will also allow banks to better serve customers who have previously been underserved (or not served at all). The World Bank reports that there are upwards of 1.7 billion people who are “under-banked” based largely on the fact that traditional bank and banking methods don’t work for them. That’s no small business opportunity. Changing the economics of serving customers is another area AI can transform. Banks that figure this out can enormously increase the reach of their services—and revenue-generating opportunities.
Lastly, and perhaps equally as important in today’s consumer-driven business environment, integrating AI into operations with a view toward actually knowing what customers want and giving it to them, or at least improving customer service operations (which can definitely use improvement) might deepen connections between a bank and its customers. Changing banks used to be difficult, today, not so much. Banks who can figure out how to have more meaningful relationships with customers, which lead to more profitable relationships and customers who use more products and services, will be hard to compete against.
Results — The Proof is in the Pudding
What was most interesting to me about the Persado pilot with JPMorgan Chase was the results. Using AI to help develop the most effective ads that generated a 450% click through rate? How can anyone not be excited by that? JPMorgan Chase began testing with Persado about three years ago. They found Persado’s machine-learning tool wrote better ad copy than its own copywriters. One example provided on that front was this: Ad written by a human read: “Access cash from the equity in your home,” while the other, more succession version from Persado read: “It’s true—You can unlock cash from the equity in your home.” To be fair, the first version of that ad copy stunk. It sounds to be more like something written by an SEO ‘expert’ than something written by a seasoned copywriter.
This likely makes the marketing department at JPMorgan Chase nervous, and it certainly doesn’t make ad agency folks happy to hear about. The reality is that AI is changing, and will change, every industry. Being able to see it coming and to adapt and adjust accordingly is required. Note that Persado lists some heavy hitters among its customer base, and when brands like Dell, AmEx, Expedia, and Microsoft are on board, there’s a reason.
Challenges aside, if marketers (and their creative teams) can learn to be excited about working alongside AI and use the technology to help write copy and headlines that will deliver better results, I’m pretty sure they’ll be all for it. I know their clients will be.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”