Last month, Pereira O’Dell, the independent ad agency, launched an insights tool with “AI personas,” built on top of Chat-GPT 4 and trained with extra consumer data that is readily available to marketers. The personas are based on broad categories of consumers, so they are not digital twins of real people, but the chatbots can be enhanced by brands that have their own data, according to PJ Pereira, co-founder and creative chairman at Pereira O’Dell.
In the travel category, a brand could customize the chatbots with, say, frequent flyer data to better represent the customer base. Pereira O’Dell started with travel personas for the first AI focus group and is expanding to auto, retail and finance.
“You can click on one [of the chatbots] and ask questions about specific things, about travel or anything else you want, to get a better sense of who that person is,” Pereira said, “but when it gets really interesting is when you click on more than one persona, because then you can ask the same question for multiple people, and they answer at the same time, and you can see the contrast between the different personas.”
The evolution of AI into true digital twins will be difficult because of the sheer amount of computing power it requires. “That’s time-consuming and a little bit expensive right now,” said Todd Thiessen, managing partner at Plan.Net Americas, a digital services firm that partnered with Pereira O’Dell on the AI personas tool.
Still, the industry is interested in testing the limits of digital twins and using AI as super-consultants, Thiessen said. “That’s where this is going and it’s probably going to happen before we know it,” Thiessen said.
There are privacy issues to consider with the advent of consumer avatars, and it is part of a broader conversation in advertising about how brands collect and use consumer data.
“It kind of scares me when I hear digital twin,” Thiessen said.
With enough data fidelity, AI will be able to approximate a consumer with close to 95% accuracy, Thiessen said. For its AI personas, Pereira O’Dell used data sources that are commonly distributed in other parts of the advertising ecosystem—including anonymous site surfing data, Adobe Analytics, and anonymized Salesforce data. If more types of information are ever used, such as a brand’s proprietary customer data, it would require more guardrails and consent from consumers, Thiessen said.
There has been a movement in ad tech, phasing out third-party internet trackers such as cookies, to deploy new forms of consent and transparency. When a consumer visits Coca-Cola’s Create Real Magic site, for instance, they are immediately met with a link to the “Privacy Center Preference” page, where they can read about how cookies and personal information is used.
Brands are trying to build direct relationships with their customers, through internet services and other forms of marketing, including through these new AI-based promotions. The industry also is developing data ecosystems, through cloud computing and clean rooms, designed to prevent leaking data or using it in ways that violate consumers’ data choices.