Published date: Wednesday, 28 March 2018

5 Questions with Lynette Saunders

Lynette Saunders, Senior Analyst at Econsultancy will be joining us on Wednesday 18th of April at AI: Advertising & Beyond. Last week we caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her experiences within the industry. To learn more, RSVP here.

 1. Tell us about your role at Econsultancy

I have been with Econsultancy for 3 and half years as a Senior Analyst within the Research Team. My role involves working on delivering industry-leading research, briefings and reports for the digital marketing industry. In particular, I have written a number of Digital Transformation sector reports covering Retail, Financial Services and Pharma and Healthcare. Currently I’m working on a report on Trust, Transparency and Brand Safety.

2. Econsultancy has published several articles and research into how AI is impacting media and society. How have you seen the focus on AI change in the last few years?  

We’ve seen companies using AI or machine learning for marketing for a number of years now, but we are really seeing the focus switching to more applications of AI due to the sheer volume of data that is now readily available to AI machines, which can perform incredibly sophisticated machine learning functions and are available at a fraction of the cost.

One of the most practical recent applications of AI has emerged with chatbots and we have written a number of blogs featuring what companies are doing in this area and the advantage a chatbot provides with an instantaneous response. Consequently, one of the biggest benefits for the consumer is simply a much better overall experience.

Traditionally AI was recommendation algorithms & optimising paid media, but it is now expanding quickly – from optimising email subject lines, advertising copy, suggesting next best actions, identifying look alike audiences to providing continuous feedback on what FAQ information helps to reduce inbound calls, to image recognition (in visual search or social listening).

3. Risks vs Rewards, do you think AI holds more risks or rewards for brand marketers?

This is an interesting question. Whilst we’ve published a number of blogs talking about the exciting ways that companies are using AI we have also highlighted things that say your chatbot should never do. The whole point of chatbots is that they’re supposed to mimic human interaction, that’s not to say that they should pretend to be human.

We are all striving to deliver that personalised experience in real-time and AI can play a crucial role in help companies to achieve this, but there are also risks, as with any technology, of getting it wrong. Given the forthcoming GDPR changes, companies also need to be even more transparent to customers about the data they are collecting on them and how this is being used.

AI offers a huge potential to enhance the customer experience, but key is going to be finding out how to use it in smart and relevant ways. Ultimately when thinking about where AI fits into your strategy it is important to go back to looking at what your business priorities are, and then specifically what the barriers are to achieving success and whether AI can help.

4. Before joining Econsultancy, you were in data and analytic roles at Royal Mail and Cancer Research UK. How do you see AI impacting the future role of marketers?

Looking back at my role in analytics at both places it was still very manual in terms of looking at reports in the various tools and interpreting what the data was telling us and taking action on the back of the analysis, which would always involve some type of time delay. The nature of reporting provided was also very much an historical view of what had happened. AI provides a real opportunity for marketers to use the data they have collected, learn from what has happened, predict what might happen and take action instantaneously. This can only help marketers to make better business decisions and ultimately drive better business results.

5. Aside from its application to marketing, what developments in AI are you most excited to see?

I think some of the areas we are seeing AI being used in healthcare is very exciting whether it be from applications that can give you an instant diagnosis of your symptoms, or provide reminders to people about their medication or alerts about a potential condition that might arise. These have the potential to be life-saving. Even as a fitbit wearer myself I am interested to see the developments that are taking place with fitness devices around helping people live a healthier life.