Generative AI has already demonstrated its disruptive potential in various industries, ranging from social media and gaming to architecture and law. However, what about its impact on marketing? If you look at what experts are saying according to a recent study by McKinsey, generative AI is poised to revolutionize three key areas: customer experience (CX), growth, and productivity.

In terms of CX, generative AI has seamlessly integrated company-specific data to deliver highly personalized content through targeted marketing efforts, ultimately enhancing overall customer satisfaction. As for growth and productivity, generative AI has successfully automated repetitive tasks, liberating valuable resources for marketing teams to concentrate on areas that demand human creativity.

To find out more, we speak to Manuel Denoual, Managing Director, NP Digital Singapore to share more about the future of generative AI in Southeast Asia.

Here is how startups can use ChatGPT to grow business in Southeast Asia.

In the coming years, we can anticipate a transformative shift in the marketing landscape. Thanks to advanced analytics and personalized content, businesses will be empowered to establish deeper connections with their target audiences. This, in turn, will enable the creation of meaningful experiences and drive success within an increasingly competitive market.

What is Generative AI and how does it work?

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that generates various types of (sic) content such as text, images, music, etc. depending on a user’s prompt. It utilises machine learning algorithms to generate content by mimicking the style and characteristics of the parameters it had been trained upon. The marketing industry in Asia, like many others, has been profoundly affected by the advent of Generative AI such as ChatGPT.

According to a recent study by Adobe, brands in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand are poised to take the lead in global customer experience and innovation as consumers in the region become familiarised with new technologies, and are keen to explore virtual and immersive environments on a deeper level.

Within the next two years, 73% of consumers in Southeast Asia (SEA) will choose online shopping as their primary channel, as compared to 58% across the Asia Pacific region. SEA consumers also expect brands to expand their digital experiences into new formats, with nine out of ten polled planning to use virtual or augmented reality to view products, while 86% want brands to offer new ways to engage with immersive and virtual worlds. 

With such expectations, SEA marketing and customer experience professionals are increasingly turning to AI to meet such demands. 60% of professionals find that AI is helping with their work, with 17% considering it a game-changer. These professionals are even more optimistic about emerging Generative AI technologies. Nine in ten respondents believe Generative AI will help increase their work volume (93%) and create better content (89%), enhance their creativity (92%), and help in reaching out to the right customers (88%). A strong majority also believe Generative AI will help better personalise customer experiences (93%), as well as in identifying new audiences and customer journeys (93%).

What is the potential for this technology in the current landscape?

SEO and SEM are some of the areas that have been profoundly affected by the advent of Generative AI.  On May 25, Google opened up access to Search Labs, which incorporates Generative AI into users’ search experience. The new Search Generative Experiences (SGE) herald a fundamental change in the way consumers use SEO & SEM, and brands must take note of this to stand out from their contemporaries.

Google’s SGE will have huge implications on Organic and Paid Searches. Organic search traffic from Google will inevitably decrease as SGE and ChatGPT usage drives down traffic.  In other words, people will find enough of what they need in the SGE and ChatGPT, ignoring organic results. Brands should aim to appear at the top of the search results page with the objective of being one of the first sources cited by AI. For Paid search, brands should aim to be the first ad shown during the conversation, as it will be deemed by the AI to be the most relevant to a user’s search experience.

While we don’t know yet exactly how ad placements or AI optimisation will work, one thing’s for certain – having relevant, rich content crawlable by the AI will be the key to “winning” in the Generative AI era, and the key to achieving this lies in localisation and personalisation.  For years, global companies typically build a competitive advantage by relying on the same approach across geographies – in terms of operating models and data management. But in recent years, increased globalisation, changing consumer preferences, and advancements in technology have made it essential for brands to localise their approach to connect with diverse audiences, navigate cultural nuances, and deliver personalised experiences. 

Generative AI is still in its infancy and we are probably only seeing the top of the iceberg in terms of the usage, implications and risks that it entails. This reinforces the need for brands to partner with a marketing agency that doesn’t only understand AI from a conceptual standpoint but is deeply familiar with it. At NPD we leverage and integrate AI into our own technology Ubersuggest and Answer the Public in order to understand better the competitive landscape, consumer intent, and content demand. Ultimately, as an agency, we are focused on helping brands disrupt their industry through digital marketing and if AI can help them achieve this goal we embrace it, with all the needed safeguards in place and with an ethical approach. 

Marketing is constantly being enhanced through tech, so why does this matter versus advancements such as programmatic advertising?

With the advent of Generative AI, brands can take hyper-personalisation a step further. Brands can leverage the machine-learning nature of Generative AI to their advantage. Generative AI has enabled marketers to gain deeper insights into customer behaviour and preferences.  We can now create more targeted and personalized marketing campaigns using AI-enabled technology than in the past, and the advances are growing by the day.  AI-powered recommendation engines have enhanced customer experiences by delivering tailored product suggestions to induce purchase or upsell.  In the service sector – chatbots and virtual assistants have improved customer support and engagement.

Some ways that brands can leverage the advantages of AI for localisation include: 

  • Language and Content Localisation: AI-powered natural language processing (NLP) algorithms can help brands adapt their content, including website copy, marketing materials, and social media posts, to the local language and tone. AI can analyse linguistic patterns, idiomatic expressions, and cultural references specific to a given market, ensuring messaging that resonates with local audiences.
  • Personalization and Customer Segmentation: AI can help create personalised marketing experiences for individual customers or specific customer segments. By leveraging machine learning algorithms, brands can analyse customer data and behaviour to identify patterns, preferences, and buying habits, allowing for more targeted and localised marketing campaigns that are more likely to resonate.
  • Predictive Analytics: The real game changer in how AI will transform digital marketing is predictive analytics. AI can leverage historical data, market trends, and consumer insights to make predictions about future consumer behaviour and market dynamics. This can help brands anticipate market shifts, identify emerging trends, and optimise their marketing strategies.
  • This is how Generative AI differs from programmatic advertising, which is the process of automatically buying and selling digital advertising space.

Generative AI has deeper implications than running an advertising campaign or facilitating our job as marketers. As an example, the intense debate around ChatGPT’s ethics and its implications on copyright far exceeded what we have seen in the past with programmatic advertising. AI has the capacity to dramatically change how we do marketing no doubt and we have already seen it in action, but also how we learn new skills, how we communicate to each other and potentially how we harm or deceive one another. Brands and their agencies have a responsibility to use AI in an ethical way and be in the driving seat. Letting technology run on autopilot as it is the case with programmatic buying might give them some short-term benefits (ease of creating new content at scale on their website for example). Still, it’s not worth the risk as the price to pay if anything goes wrong might be losing their customers’ trust or even losing in court.

Make the argument why the human touch or more importantly, why should brands care?  

AIs are computer programs at the end of the day. They aren’t truly ‘intelligent’ despite their label. AI is still highly reliant upon human inputs – meaning that an AI is only as good as the programmers who created them and the parameters they are trained upon. This also means that the AI will inherit the biases and subjectivity of their programmers, and the data they are trained upon.

This has raised ethical concerns. Without the implementation of ethical guidelines by humans, we risk introducing real-world biases and discrimination, further fueling divisions and tension.

Another problem with AI, or Generative AI such as Chatgpt to be more precise, lies in the limited parameters it has been trained upon. While ChatGPT’s capabilities are certainly impressive, it has the tendency to pass off false information, or worst, plagiarised content, thus highlighting the need for a human overseer to check its outputs.

Marketing is a field that requires human connection and empathy, as ultimately, humans are emotional and social creatures. While AI can certainly provide data analytics in ways that humans can’t, they lack the complexity, understanding of cultural nuances, creativity, intuition and critical thinking skills that humans possess.  Humans are still needed to create compelling narratives, connect with customers on an emotional level, and create memorable experiences that resonate with their target audience.

There might come a day when planning a marketing campaign, buying online media and optimising performance across multiple digital channels will be done between 2 algorithms communicating with each other without any supervision from a human. And AI can certainly make this new reality happen sooner than we ever thought. But as long as the target of the marketing campaign is a human being (and not an algorithm) and as long as the intent is to trigger a new action or feeling, we humans would still be the orchestrator of it all. Creativity, innovation, critical thinking and that “je ne sais quoi” can’t be taught to an AI, just yet. 

ChatGPT-4 is a powerful AI tool that can be used to create content, but it still requires a human touch. The tool is trained on an outdated dataset, which means it is not useful for new topics or breaking news. Additionally, ChatGPT-4 can sometimes generate inaccurate or misleading information. As a result, it is important for content writers and editors to carefully review and edit the output of ChatGPT-4 before it is published.

What’s next for NP Digital

Our services are in high demand across the APAC region, with the internet economy forecasted to be valued at $1 trillion by 2030. To meet this demand, we are accelerating our expansion with our Regional HQ in Singapore which was launched at the start of the year as well as 2 new offices (Hong Kong and Malaysia) slated to open before Q4.

Our success is attributed to our unique ability to drive growth for clients in the TikTok era, where consumers are always connected, and where any point of brand interaction can lead to a purchase.  NP Digital’s competitive edge is our innovative “growth hacking” approach, which replaces analogue, mass marketing and campaigns. We leverage their proprietary technology stack, which includes SEO, CRO, and Content, to deliver exceptional results to over three million active marketers worldwide. 

Ubersuggest, our proprietary tech, is offered for free in 234 countries and in 9 languages. In 2021 we hit 3MM active users and over 600MM monthly queries. 

As an agency, we are technology agnostic. We believe in using the best tools, and not playing favorites or attempting to profit off our clients’ tech stack.