Weekly Roundup #71 – Gendered AI, The Decline of Influencers & Key Statistics


If you haven’t yet read last week’s post, we covered Google AMP, EU Privacy Laws and the pros of unifying your data…

And this week we have news that:

C-Suite Executives rank Customer Experience as More Important than Sales

Digital marketing news on customer experience

According to a new report Success in The Experience Era: Connecting Customer and C-Suite, board-level executives in the UK and the US feel that customer experience is a higher priority than sales and marketing. Amongst the C-suite executives, customer experience is seen as the most important way to differentiate their brand, and a full 100% of the C-suite survey respondents said they are prioritising their customers’ experience, compared to 58% that consider sales and revenue as their primary concern.

Tom Goodmanson, president and CEO of Calabrio, the company who commissioned this new report, said,

“It is clear that the customer is paramount to success. But the challenge comes in understanding how customers interact with businesses, particularly when it comes to the contact centre. The challenge is two-fold: first to ensure businesses are gathering accurate customer insights as a rich source of business intelligence, and secondly to understand how this data can be used to inform wider business improvement and customer engagement strategies.”

Although there is much buzz around customer experience, currently 47% of CMO’s feel that they do not have the right tools deployed in order to fully understand their customers. The lack of clear customer ownership post-sale is at the heart of the problem, with only 35% of CMOs believing it is their responsibility use customer data insights, whilst a mere 29% of CCOs claimed ownership. Furthermore only 37% of CEOs believed it was their job to improve customer experience.

So it seems that currently there is the will, but perhaps not the way when it comes to board-level executives taking responsibility for improved customer experience.


Self-Expression and Engagement are the Key Reasons Behind our Social Media Posts

A new study conducted by Morar Consulting for the visual marketing platform Olapic, has revealed that emotional validation is the key catalyst for posting and sharing on social media. Polling more than 1,000 respondents aged 16 to 60+ years, the results gathered information on the range of content that is posted as well as noting the positive feelings of engagement, happiness and acceptance that are associated with this online activity.

Jonathan Freeman, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths University of London and Managing Director of i2 media research ltd, who has independently reviewed the research said that,

“Sharing is strongly influenced by the positive feelings you get when someone responds to your posts: happy, engaged, loved and accepted.”

When survey respondents were asked how their use of social media compares to last year, they reported that whilst they post on Facebook less frequently, they are posting on Instagram with more frequency. The statistics show that 54% of respondents share status updates at least once a week compared to the 49% who share their own photos. However, when looking at the younger social media users, Millennials are even more likely to post their own photos, with 51% doing so at least once a week.

The survey results suggest that self-expression is the key motivation for sharing content, with 44% posting to let people know how they feel or what they are doing, 37% post because they think it would be interesting to their followers and 32% posting things in order to be supportive of their friends and connections.

Interestingly, only 6% of respondents stated that they share content with the intention of influencing other people’s opinions’ of them. Freeman noted that,

“these results are a bit of a paradox. It seems many people are unaware of or unable to admit to actively influencing their online social contacts. But we are all influencing others constantly with what we choose to share. How we behave online speaks volumes about us, both consciously and unconsciously.”

Interaction is the key element when trying to elicit positive emotions around social media posts. When asked how people feel when they receive lots of interaction from their posts, 57% responded by feeling engaged, 35% feel happy and 32% feel accepted.

This may be interesting for companies who are wishing to build relationships with their customers through social media. Jose de Cabo, co-founder of Olapic, said, “When consumers share branded content on their page or feed, brands become associated with these carefully crafted representations. Moreover, if the content shared sparks social media interaction, brands will become associated with feelings of self-confidence and importance among their audience and potential customers.”

The influence of social media posts extends to customer trust, as consumers globally trust images from these sources seven times more than they trust brand advertising. De Cabo points out that, “People now trust images on social media more than brand advertising and are looking for more realistic content from seemingly unbiased sources to guide their purchasing and opinions of the brand.” This survey unlocks some powerful insights around how social media, customer relations and purchasing habits are all interlinked.


The Declining Influence of Influencers

influencer marketing spot studio blog

In a world of bloggers, vloggers and influencers it comes as no surprise that it is possible to monetise a large online following. Influencer advertising was taken up by brands as a way of creating ‘authentic conversations’ with their fans and customers, however there seems to be a decline in its popularity as consumers have become more and more wary of this type of ‘influence’.

The Federal Trade Commission has recently stepped in to protect consumers from misinterpreting these paid adverts as personal recommendations. The FTC has repeatedly had to remind brands and the marketing industry of the new rules regarding disclosure requirements.

As social media continues to evolve and as it plays an ever-growing part in peoples lives, consumers have a desire for straightforward, authentic and transparent conversations with the brands and people that they follow, which seems at odds with this rather more deceptive advertising tactic. It is now thought that the misleading nature of influencer advertising will eventually damage a brand’s reputation.

It has been advised that brands engage their real fans as opposed to paying celebrities and the instafamous for their campaigns. This type of authentic content would engage existing consumers and is also likely to drive other like-minded potential consumers to the brand.

The future of marketing should look to the pre-existing consumers for content and campaigns, as this fresh and more honest approach will keep fans and customers engaged for the long term.


Should Gender be an Issue for Artificial Intelligence?

man and woman representing gender

Artificial Intelligence has become a part of many peoples lives, with Siri and Alexa found in the pockets, homes and hearts of millions of people around the world.

Giving machines a gender was initially a way of humanising them, of helping users accept AI into their lives and to feel comfortable interacting with them. However, as AI has become an essential part of 21st Century living, should we consider revoking their ‘gender’ and all of the implications that go with it?

“It is a program, it doesn’t have genitals,” Joey Camire, a strategist at innovation and brand design consultancy Sylvain Labs said. “The question is whether it’s just easier for us to interact with something when we assign a gender to it. I have a feeling that this isn’t the case, but when deciding on a familiar name for an AI assistant you’re left with two buckets of possible names – male names and female names.”

Capital One’s Eno, MasterCard’s Kai and Samsung’s Bixby have all managed to avoid the trap of having a gendered name, however each of them has a female-sounding voice. A spokesperson for Amazon’s Alexa explains that the female voice was decided upon after they had, “asked a lot of customers and tested Alexa’s voice with large internal beta groups and this is the voice they chose.”

The spokesperson also added, “That being said, we believe Alexa exudes characteristics you’d see in a strong female colleague, family member or friend—she is highly intelligent, funny, well-read, empowering, supportive and kind. This is intentional. Alexa is a self-identified feminist… and a proponent of human rights in general—and that is incredibly core to her personality and the way she interacts with our broad customer base.”

In the same vein, Microsoft’s Cortana was the result of much research – as a Microsoft representative said,

“We immersed ourselves in available research and our own studies and learned that, indeed, there are benefits to both a female and male voice. However, for our objectives – building a helpful, supportive, trustworthy assistant – a female voice was the stronger choice.”

It seems that AI’s are given a male or female voice as the result of internal biases says Jo Allison, a behavioural analyst at consumer behaviour insights practice Canvas8. Allison’s research saw focus groups show that people associate female voices with warmth and problem solving, while male voices are more commonly seen as useful and authoritative.

Toby Barnes, group strategy director at digital agency AKQA, backs up this idea stating that the majority of AI are assigned a female gender because, “people will respond in a far more positive manner to a woman’s voice than a man’s. Research has shown this is true for both men and women.”

Research also shows that there is bias towards choosing the opposite sex for your AI, which is true of the consumer, but it is also true of the a male-dominated industry that creates AI, which may explain why the majority of their creations will be given a female persona.

Jason Alan Snyder, Chief Technology officer at brand experience agency, Momentum Worldwide has noted that, “Gender assignment is something we need to be very considerate about. There’s great risk in amplifying negative things about society and moving them forward at scale with these technologies.” Snyder continued to say that, “We don’t need gender to humanise things. We’ve been talking to objects forever. Now they talk back.”

However, for the time being companies are passing the choice to the individual user in an effort to avoid enforcing their ideas around gender and technology onto their consumers. Both Siri and Waze offer their customers the freedom to choose the personas that they prefer, which is an appropriate move according to Kevin Williams of the digital innovation agency Rockfish as, “We are entering an age where personalisation will be a key component for personification.”


This Week’s Digital Marketing Stats

90% of UK Consumers are Unsubscribing from Retail Communications

retail communications digital marketing

Research by Engage Hub shows that 90% of UK consumers have hit ‘unsubscribe’ in response to retail communications the past year. The reasons for doing so vary, but the survey of over 1500 consumers showed that 46% unsubscribed due to the onslaught of messages.

One third of the respondents said they were motivated to unsubscribe due to the frequency of communications, with 24% reporting that they receive something at least once a day, and 15% receiving even more still.

Irrelevant information was another reason cited by consumers for unsubscribing from communications, with 24% of respondents complaining of messages that were ‘highly irrelevant’ to them.

The UK’s Biggest Mortgage Companies Deliver the Poorest Online Experience


Santander, Nationwide and Natwest are some of the UK’s biggest mortgage providers, yet they have the worst online customer experience according to new research by Dock9.

The survey of 19 major mortgage intermediaries, high street and specialist lenders also revealed that Barclays, Lloyds and TSB offered the best online experience.

Poor performance was due to websites that weren’t built to function well on mobile and tablet devices, with 53% of the banks sites failing on these grounds. The survey also found that 65% of websites are not responsive, or only partially responsive, meaning that customers have a much longer online journey than necessary.

Audiences want Social Media Companies to Help Fight Fake News

In the aftermath of the recent American Presidential Election fake news has taken centre stage. As social media sites have been some of the main sources of fake news, consumers are losing trust in the information that is on their feeds.

Research by the7stars has revealed that just 20% of UK news audiences are confident that the information they receive is real. The survey of 1000 people also showed that 45% of respondents said it is difficult to understand what is fake news and what isn’t. 70% of the respondents wanted social media companies to take more responsibility for tackling the fake news epidemic, with only 7% said that they feel that Facebook and Twitter are doing enough to protect them against fake news.

An incredibly low percentage of people said that they trust news shared by friends on social media (10%) and 45% said they would not trust a shared news article at all. With the trust of their users at stake it seems that the social media companies will have to respond to their consumers worries regarding the proliferation of fake news.


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Sebastian Paszek

Marketing manager

Controlling the chaos of the digital landscape, Sebastian is a multiplatform executive, project manager and photographer.