When they first came on the scene, it’s fair to say chatbots were perceived as a flash in the pan gimmick. However, an increasing number of brands are recognising the potential this technology has for generating valuable customer insight. Thanks to the artificial intelligence (AI) mechanisms powering them, chatbots are being widely integrated across industries and are finally being acknowledged as an effective way to automate and augment the customer service experience — so much so that, according to a report by Grand View Research, the global chatbot market is expected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025, an annual growth rate of 24.3 percent.

Similarly, a UK marketing reportfound 55% of marketers are certain that artificial intelligence will have a more radical transformative effect on the marketing industry than social media – and they are right. Consumers now expect to be put first, and OTT chatbots present the opportunity to build an authentic relationship with a key demographic on the social platform of their choice, thanks to the data insights they are able to offer. Driven by the rise of smart devices, voice recognition advances, and AI-powered apps, more customers today expect businesses to be reachable anytime, know their likes and needs in advance, and respond instantly. Given these requirements, chatbots are becoming a necessity for communicating with customers in real time.

Moving to an engaged audience

Yet, the future of user acquisition is not about changing behavior; it is about taking content to where the user is already active and engaged. Chatbots are an ideal way to do this, though they have been dramatically misunderstood and misused by many. For the past 10 years, the install base and developer ecosystems have driven content owners to adopt iOS and Android applications as primary ways to build an OTT audience. Taking into account that Apple sold roughly 1 billion phones from 2008 to 2018 and chat platforms that support chatbots have 3.5 billion daily active users on them, one cannot look past the immediate, green-field opportunity for penetration and growth. Some chat platforms boast over 65% lifetime retention rates and are seeing monetization start to take hold.

Our partnership with Sky Sports on the Jeff Bot is a good example of this. The Jeff Bot, which provides coverage of the Premier League based on Jeff Stelling and Sky Sports Soccer Saturday content, has had a direct effect on customer engagement. Fans can ask Jeff a question about the EPL at any time and get an answer back, as well as subscribe to teams and get information sent to them based on real time developments on and off the pitch. This model of encouraging fan interaction is key to creating long term users.

Value of chatbot data

The volume of data generated by chatbots is huge. On any given day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is produced across social platforms by bots. This ability to bring order from chaos allows chatbots to answer customer service questions, scan restaurants to book dinner reservations, check sports scores, and order flowers.

Experts are predicting that we’ll be sitting on 35 zettabytes of data by 2020, more than our human brains can digest without aid. Fortunately, the artificial intelligence within chatbots has the potential to help deliver the level of deep, intuitive personalisation thattoday’s hyper-connected consumers demand, offering the ability to select the right audience for the most relevant conversation. Of course, we’re unlikely to see a customer service world without humans anytime soon, but more natural interactions with ever-improving chatbots mean a better, clearer and more intuitive connection to user insights brands can rely on.

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