Imagine you’re at a shopping mall, looking for a new pair of running shoes. You don’t find what you’re looking for, so you move on to look at sweatpants. A few minutes later, a salesperson approaches you, holding a newly-released running shoe in your size and favourite colour. He asks if you’d like to try it on. Based on the browsing behaviour of other similar shoppers, the salesperson gathered some important information about your needs and preferences, and used it to offer up what you were looking for.
This is a little bit what predictive analytics is like – except that online, marketers can gather much richer data about customers to better inform the tactics they use to connect with people.
Predictive analytics is a concept that has been around for quite some time. From the earliest days of advertising, marketers have tried to use past performance to inform future decisions. Today, you can think of predictive analytics as a kind of digital body language.
The introduction of technology and data means that predictive analytics helps us find people who are the right fit for your brand, but who haven’t necessarily shown behavioral signals that would allow you to easily target them.
At the core of predictive analytics is artificial intelligence. You’ve probably heard of artificial intelligence, or AI – but many people still don’t know exactly what it means. It helps to start with our brains: the most complex, intelligent, and dynamic organs that have ever existed.
Your brain can learn and apply knowledge – like when you touch a hot stove and learn that the result is the searing, stinging pain of a burn. Collectively, our brains have developed art, language, government, technology. There’s no question that they’re impressive machines.
Throughout history, man has been trying to reproduce our brain’s amazing intelligence.
We’ve taught machines to think and act like us, and we’ve created responsive expressions of this type of technology – like Siri, who can engage in two-way conversations while exhibiting some semblance of human personality and character in some of its rather philosophical or humorous responses.
Building an artificial brain might sound simple. It might even look simple, thanks to Hollywood.