Automat, a business-to-consumer, conversational artificial intelligence platform, and AdLingo, a conversational marketing start-up sanctioned by Google’s Area 120 incubator program, recently partnered in effort to better conversational display advertising.
The partnership was announced by Automat’s chief executive officer, Andy Mauro, during WWD’s Digital Beauty Forum which took place last week. The collaborative offering will first have a trial with L’Oréal Canada, in a new campaign which uses the Automat-powered chatbots and virtual advisers to assist customers.
According to an Automat-commissioned report by Wakefield Research, consumers still prefer to be left alone during shopping, but panic at the inundation of product choices. Chatbots aim to ease the burden in service expectation and paradox of choice.
“Consumers need and want help, but they don’t want to wait to chat with a live person via web chat,” said Mauro to WWD in a statement. Particularly in the beauty industry, Mauro reiterates consumers crave guidance, recommendation, advice, consultation and expertise, or what Automat refers to as “GRACE.”
Assessing needs and extending “grace” to the disgruntled beauty shopper, Automat has also serviced brands such as CoverGirl, Kiehl’s and more.
The report also suggests an interest from consumers for conversational commerce, as nearly half, or 49 percent, of all respondents said that they would “definitely or likely use a virtual adviser when shopping whether online or offline.”
For years, brands have reaped benefits from virtual beauty advisers and chatbots running on their web sites and Facebook Messenger, which is the “primary chatbot platform at the moment,” but they still lack the scale and connectivity across platforms.
On what each brings to the partnership, Mauro added: “Google is expanding the footprint of where a brand can have an automated conversation with consumers to the 1 billion sites that their display ads are seen on, while Automat provides the conversational AI technology and pre-built virtual beauty advisers for brands.”
With the ability to scale conversations “to a much wider audience,” the display ad technology deployment has the potential to therefore scale L’Oréal Canada’s engagement, conversion and consumer insight value, according to Mauro.
Looking at the total customer journey, Mauro speaks of “connected conversations.” Enabling a continued customer conversation across platforms, purchase can occur online or offline — letting the customer pick up where he or she left off.