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What is "Intelligent Content"?

Michael SilvermanWritten by Michael Silverman
Apr 25, 2017 8:11:00 AM

If you’ve watched any television recently, you probably have seen a commercial for Amazon Echo. You know, that device that has people saying, “Alexa, ask 1-800-Flowers to order Tina roses,” or “Alexa, add clean under the sofa to my to-do list."

The hands-free speaker is controlled by your voice and can quickly turn into more than a piece of technology: it can become your personal assistant.

I’ve been fascinated by artificial intelligence like this for a while. I vividly remember watching Jeopardy! six years ago and seeing the IBM computer Watson defeat two of the shows biggest champions and win $1 million.
Now I consider myself pretty forward thinking, and I’ve seen how artificial intelligence is changing how we live our lives, from refilling a prescription to ordering a pizza. But when it came to my job, I thought I was in the clear. I thought artificial intelligence for content marketing was silly to even consider, or at the very least was years away from being implemented.
Man with future high tech smart glasses concept.jpegEarlier this month, I discovered my naivety.

I was in Las Vegas for the Intelligent Content Conference, which is organized by the Content Marketing Institute and advertised as "the largest event in North America focused on helping organizations deliver the right content, to the right audience, anywhere, anytime, on any device.” It was there where I heard two speakers who made it clear to me that:

  1. Artificial intelligence’s presence in the content marketing industry is coming faster than we think.
  2. Artificial intelligence can absolutely work for me in my business.
Paul Roetzer is the founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency. He gave a talk called "Cognitive Content Marketing: The Path to a More (Artificially) Intelligent Future," and I walked out of it thinking, wow, that was pretty cool.

Here’s the opening description to his session:
"Consider how much time your team spends discovering keywords; planning blog post topics; writing, optimizing, personalizing and automating content; testing landing pages; scheduling social shares; reviewing analytics and defining content strategies. Now imagine if a machine performed the majority of those activities and a marketer’s primary role was to enhance rather than create."

Roetzer used a variety of examples from within and outside the marketing industry to give a glimpse at how artificial intelligence can improve day-to-day efficiencies and strengthen the content creation process.

He offered an inside look at the Washington Post’s innovative coverage of the nearly 500 House, Senate and Gubernatorial races across the country this past Election Day. The Post developed a program called Heliograf that used artificial intelligence, content templates and pre-written previews to automatically update stories as results started to roll in. The paper’s team of 60 political reporters spent the bulk of its attention on the high-profile contests, while Heliograf produced stories and flagged interesting results from the rest of the races, which benefitted the Post’s internal and external audiences.

As Jeremy Gilbert, who is the Post’s director of strategic initiatives, said in this Wall Street Journal article, “This will give readers Washington Post-quality coverage at all levels but will also be used to alert reporters to things that they may not see, or draw their attention to a particular race that they didn’t expect to be a close one."

I was impressed by what the Post did, but I’m not going to be creating something with artificial intelligence any time soon. Then Roetzer talked about a company named Automated Insights, and suddenly artificial intelligence became applicable to me.

Automated Insights features a platform called Wordsmith that creates narratives from data. These narratives read as if a human wrote them, and they take seconds to create. The example Roetzer gave that hit home was Google Analytics.

Think about how much time you or your employees spend evaluating and reporting on your Google Analytics. Now admittedly, the data in Google Analytics is not rocket science, but you need to be pretty comfortable with the data to be able to look at it and report on what is going on and what reasonable expectations for your site should be.

That takes time.

We’re talking a good four to six hours per month that an account manager could spend reporting on analytics. Now multiply that by the number of account managers you have, and the hours quickly escalate.

With Automated Insights, which features a Google Analytics plugin, your account managers can get that time back. You still would need to have someone review and evaluate the reports, but instead of four to six hours, that could probably be done in 20-30 minutes.

Saving time means saving money, or raising the potential to bring more money in. That, I understand.

As I heard more talk about artificial intelligence, I kept thinking about the juxtaposition between this new technology and the results from a recent survey by Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi. The survey found that of the nearly 100 firms who responded, only 25% are currently using the technology they already own for their content marketing efforts.

Twenty-five percent. That’s it.

Rather than focus on the latest and greatest technology, doesn’t it seem like we should spend our time figuring out how to better use the technology already at our disposal?

Vishal Khanna helped with that question.
As his bio on the Intelligent Content Conference website states, for the majority of Khanna's 15+ year career in marketing, he has been his organization’s only resource for marketing, communications and media relations. Khanna works at HealthPrize Technologies, a digital patient engagement and brand loyalty platform for pharmaceutical brands. In 2015, he received the Content Marketer of the Year award for groundbreaking science content marketing.

Khan discussed “How to Connect Your Content and Technology to Your Business Goals (with a small team). He explained how he essentially has a stack of cloud-based applications and how they integrate with one another. At the center of his stack is the Salesforce CRM so he can monitor anything he needs about his customers.

Khan breaks down those customers into one of 14 different personas, and he maintains different workflows of content to be distributed to each persona group. He makes all that happen by integrating with a variety of other applications like SharpSpring, AdButler, Unbounce and more.

I was impressed by Khan’s efficiency — it sounds like he’s doing the work of 10 people — but I was also validated by his process. His integration method is exactly what we at Duo do with Drupal. We help our clients integrate the tools that already work for them, as well as other best-of-breed technologies, to create a system that is efficient, flexible, affordable and effective.

We may not be integrating with Alexa quite yet, but just wait. After all, the artificial intelligence revolution will be here before we know it.

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