Augmented reality and artificial intelligence aren’t just for B2C marketers anymore, and as we move into 2020 we’re likely to see a new decade of B2B that keeps moving farther away from “Boring-To-Boring” and towards more to B2C-like experiences. AR and AI are a key part of what consumers increasingly expect to find in those experiences. The swiftly rising number of mixed-reality consumer app installations is expected to jump from 3 billion to 10 billion by 2024, with associated ad spending forecast to climb from $2 billion in 2019 to $11 billion, according to new Juniper Research data. While AR and AI in consumer-facing efforts keeps expanding with a full head of steam, such as Warner Bros. first-ever embedded AR for its upcoming “Scoob!” film trailer and mobile app, many in the B2B landscape have scarcely begun to tap into the AI-infused technology available. Let’s take a look at five B2B brands that are innovating with a variety of AR and AI marketing initiatives.
1 – Microsoft’s Reddit-Powered Chatbot Tech
Microsoft recently announced a natural language enhancement program that will add a new level of human-like responsiveness to chatbots, with its DialoGPT initiative that taps into an archive of nearly 150 million conversations from social news aggregation and discussion website Reddit. The project seeks to lend a more conversational and human tone to the AI that powers chatbots, and by incorporating Reddit’s unique blend of tech-savvy online scenesters and cut-to-the-chase real-world solutions, the next generation of chatbots that arise from Microsoft’s DialoGPT endeavor are likely to be a noticeable change from those we use today. Microsoft took efforts to clean its Reddit archive to include only relevant and helpful conversation history, but has issued a warning that despite its best efforts some of the chatbot responses could still contain the type of content that may not yet be ready for typical B2B environments. Although the project is still in testing, Microsoft has made it available to AI researchers looking to take their chatbot game to the next level, and not surprisingly Reddit users have also turned their attention on the new development.
2 – HubSpot’s HubBot Chatbot
Chatbot technology’s usage has grown steadily since its introduction just a few years back, and more B2B firms are making chatbots a prominent component of their business models. HubSpot website visitors are welcomed by its HubBot chatbot, which serves as an automated gatekeeper to put the company’s existing or potential clients in touch with the most relevant human to answer any questions it isn’t able to answer. HubSpot also provides personalized chatbots with its HubSpot Conversations, and a variety of other AI-powered tools, so it makes sense for the firm to showcase a powerful chatbot for its own site.
3 – Drift & Sigstr’s Conversational Email Chat
Account Based Marketing (ABM) software company Drift and email marketing platform Sigstr recently joined together on a new service that joins together email signatures and real-time conversations with either chatbots or real people. We’ve written about Drift before, most recently during the #B2BSMX conference, where company vice president of marketing Dave Gerhardt shared a variety of helpful conversational B2B marketing tactics. Sigstr has also made our previous list of “5 Examples of Remarkable Content Marketing in Action,” and now with its Drift partnership the combined firms are leading the way by merging the decidedly-classic tech of email with modern chatbot functionality in an ABM environment particularly well-suite for B2B marketing efforts.
4 – Adobe’s Aero & #ProjectPronto
Adobe* recently demonstrated the latest work on its Aero products, aimed at making it easier to create augmented reality campaign content for mobile devices, using the launch of the “Terminator: Dark Fate” film as the theme for its Terminator Max Experience, a showcase for how B2B and B2C firms will be able to use the product to produce impressive AR experiences. Adobe’s Terminator Max Experience demonstration also let participants work with the technology on an actual set using cues to act out their own scene. Below is a video from one of several sneak-peaks Adobe shared at its recent Adobe MAX 2019 developer conference, showing some of the eye-opening AR possibilities that the technology will enable for B2B firms. Adobe also shared more information about its #ProjectPronto initiative, which uses AI to build real-time AR scenery within video.
5 – Cisco’s AR & VR Interactive Catalogs
Cisco has used both AR and virtual reality in its latest generation of online interactive product catalogs, allowing existing and potential clients to get a fresh take on the firm’s massive slate of technology offerings. Cisco has brought what has traditionally been considered typical “Boring-To-Boring” content to new life by using vibrant and immersive AR and VR, a great example of how even catalog content can breathe fresh air into a B2B firm’s marketing and customer experience efforts. With both a desktop version from B2B software firm Kaon Interactive and a variety of app versions available through Google Play, iTunes and others, Cisco has done an admirable job in making its interactive AR catalogs readily available.
Moving Ahead with New Tech for 2020
The campaigns we’ve explored here from Microsoft, HubSpot, Drift, Sigstr, Adobe, and Cisco are examples of the type of AR and AI innovation that may become increasingly widespread as we move into 2020 and a new decade of B2B that keeps moving farther away from “Boring-To-Boring” and to more to B2C-like experiences. In closing, here are five of our most recent articles exploring some of the other areas where B2B marketing will change in the months and years ahead.
- 5 Key ABM Trends for B2B Marketers to Track Heading into 2020
- Class Is In Session: 8 Opportunities From the 2020 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks Report
- 6 Cannes Revelations About B2B Marketing in 2020
- 7 Top B2B Influencer Marketing Trends for 2020
- Q3 Wrap-Up: What’s Changed For B2B Marketers & What’s Ahead in 2020?
* Adobe is a TopRank Marketing client.