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Smart talk: Persado combines the science of language and data

Success right from the start It’s a pick-up-and-go model. With the ability to leverage existing knowledge from its database and applying it to new campaigns, customers generate uplifts from the start. The Persado engine feeds off the results of every subsequent campaign, building up a continuous learning experience, based on how audiences react to the wording of specific offers as well as what is generally trending in the marketplace. With an overwhelming amount of information being transmitted at any given time, the engine self-selects and scales it down to give relevant and practical insight. Whittle gives a Persado-generated banner ad on a financial services website as an example. “As that ad is served to a visitor to the site, all we need to know are the content of that ad and audience response data that the financial services company will have to supply. Did customers click? Did they then apply and, ultimately, did they buy?” Persado is then able to match the impressions to the various elements of an

ad and show the client company what aspects of the creative, from headline to image to colours to phrasing, moved customers to act.

Nothing artificial about AI We have seen the flip side of this technology – artificial intelligence that went awry, as with Microsoft’s Tay bot that, left to learn on its own, interacted with Twitter users with dire results. But sentient robots are not Persado’s end goal; rather it uses “cognitive computing,” an assisted type of machine learning that uses science and data to amplify the effectiveness of human creativity. It still relies on human guidance regarding the financial brand’s individual personality and voice, which Persado’s platform then accounts for. “The difference between artificial intelligence and our type of machine learning is that, ultimately, it’s the audience that tells our machine what is working, as opposed to what an artificial intelligence-type bot is doing, which is basically trying to guess at scale,” says Whittle. “Persado acts with the confidence of data, freeing human creatives from bias and subjectivity that have hampered their decisions in the past.” The engine doesn’t feature the entire spectrum of human emotion, such

Any digital experience is all about understanding exactly how to address the customer in every situation Summer 2016

as disgust or vengeance, only ones that are proven to inspire action because in financial services, those types of emotions have no validity based on data. The good news is this means customers won’t be interacting with a sarcastic version of Siri or be served by a version of Skynet from the Terminator films. According to Whittle, the end game for Persado is to turbocharge what financial institutions are doing on a manual basis, which is brainstorming, testing, coming up with hypotheses, and generate comparatively huge volumes of content.

Innovative times call for innovative practices Whittle believes that the future needs to be optimised to the digital age and those who are innovative and early adopters of transformative technologies, much like the consumers they seek to engage, will be the eventual winners in the financial market. “I think there will be a number of start-up financial services organisations coming into play, but they need very deep pockets and they need very long time frames to really build the customer base of a traditional bank," he says. "Most of the more established banks will ultimately remain successful if they can figure out how to adopt and reliably generate success through the use of these new technologies.” Lawrence Whittle was talking to Fintech Finance Magazine’s Dylan Jones |


Fintech Finance Magazine Summer 2016