Weekly Roundup #94 – Travel AI, Gender Stereotypes & B2B Marketing

Here we are with another round up of digital marketing news. In last week’s round up we looked at AI in the publishing industry, RankBrain and performed a Black Friday post-mortem. Once you have caught up, take a look at this week’s offerings…



Facial Recognition and the Travel Industry

SenseSational eBookers Holiday AI

A new, novel use for AI has been created for the travel industry. SenseSational is an online tool that goes beyond simply making suggestions based on your age, gender or previous holidays. Instead it uses facial recognition to see which destinations get the best reactions and sustained interest.

SenseSational is working in conjunction with ebookers.com to suggest travel destinations based on user reactions to being shown different options. Using facial recognition and multisensory displays, the user will be shown video of various stages of the journey, whilst their facial reactions and gaze is recorded. Calculations done by the AI will then be able to show the user personalised destinations for their consideration.

Mark McKenna, Commercial Director at ebookers.com noted that,

“New technology is revolutionising the travel sector and enabling our digital world to become a personalised, multi-sensory immersion that provides travellers with the vital ‘try before you buy’ experience.”

Ebooker.com is keen to tap into the way that social media platforms such as Instagram allow their users to share their experience and to plan their next trip. The collaboration with SenseSational should allow ebookers.com to see which images and videos their customers react best towards, which will influence and improve their targeted services to its customers for the future.

“SenseSational mimics this emotive storytelling and analyses the way we engage with certain textures, tastes and sounds, giving us an insight into how technology will continue to shape the consumer journey and help us form completely tailored travel experiences, engaging our senses every step of the way,” explains McKenna.

Take a look at this awesome AI here.

The ASA Tackles Gender Stereotypes

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is on a mission to remove harmful or outdated gender stereotypes in advertising. The ASA’s guidelines focus on moving away from those depictions that are, “likely to be problematic.”

The ASA gave several examples of the types of images that the ASA wishes to prevent, which include: a family making a mess and a woman being the only one to clean up; suggesting that a particular activity is inappropriate for a child of a particular gender; a man trying and failing at a relatively simple parental or household task.

Chief Executive of the ASA, Guy Parker, said that,

“Portrayals which reinforce outdated and stereotypical views on gender roles in society can play their part in driving unfair outcomes for people … While advertising is only one of many factors that contribute to unequal gender outcomes, tougher advertising standards can play an important role in tackling inequalities and improving outcomes for individuals, the economy and society as a whole.”

Shutterstock performed a survey of marketer’s use of imagery, and the results suggest that the ASA’s guidelines have had a significant impact on ad campaigns. The survey of 500 UK marketers found that 57% of respondents were already being affected by ASA’s fight against gender stereotyping. 35% of respondents reported that they had used a larger number of images that featured women in the last year, and the mindset of the marketers had also been affected, with 51% saying that it is important to fairly represent society in their marketing imagery (up from just 30% in 2016).

Robyn Lange, Shutterstock Curator, stated that the company was,

“Pleased that the ASA’s announcement is having an impact on marketers and that the upward trend of using non-stereotypical images of women in marketing campaigns is continuing. Marketing campaigns have a strong visual impact on public life, therefore, marketers need to be more inclusive through their choice of images and ensure that they are representing people in society effectively.”

The Shuttershock research also showed that diversity and proper representation is an issue that exists beyond the UK. 88% of those surveyed in the USA and a huge 93% of those in Australia agreed that it was important to use more diverse imagery – and not just for societal improvements, but as a way to create a better brand reputation.

Build Your Brand Instead of Focussing on SEO

Mac Cosmetics Luxury website design
Source: MAC Cosmetics

As search engines continue to become more and more sophisticated, it has become harder and harder to use tricks to improve your SERP ranking. This is because the data that Google uses to assess your business or site has become so vast that Google’s determination is incredibly accurate.

Nowadays, SEO tricks will not get you very far. And instead of looking at it as search engine optimisation, we should instead be look at it as digital brand optimisation. Simply building links is not an effective way to improve your business, so we present four factors that you should follow for digital brand growth in the current digital climate.

Back to Basics

Ask yourself: have you done user testing on your website? Have you watched people try to perform a specific action on all devices and media available? Have you tested all the major elements of the conversion funnel? Do you know how well people like using your website versus your biggest competitors? Do your pages load in under two seconds?

It is easy to forget these seemingly simple elements of a good website, so make sure to do all of the testing possible, and adjust and redesign according to the results. A fast and well-designed site is a near guarantee of online success. Our guide to UX for eCommerce should help you, as will A/B Testing.

Be Valuable

Ask yourself: what area or topic could my site be the best resource for? Look for a topic that is unique to you, and that would be difficult for your competitors to replicate. Some possible ideas include:

  • a tool/calculator/selection guide that solves a common problem
  • a searchable archive or a unique data source
  • an educational resource that simplifies a complex topic
  • an interview with an expert or influencer in your field
  • a tutorial that teaches people how to do something themselves.

Repeat Visitors

A site that can convert first-time visitors into repeat users is a site that is set up for success. With repeat visitors it become possible to build a brand and to become an online powerhouse. Some ideas for encouraging repeat visitors include:

  • giving people a great reason to join the mailing list
  • offering loyalty plans or discounts for repeat customers
  • personalisation and great recommendations
  • building on-site community features so that users can interact with the company and with other users
  • reward particularly frequent users
  • regularly add high-value content to the site
  • create channels to notify users of new content

Be Heartfelt

Do not add content to your site simply for the sake of it. There is so much content online that if yours doesn’t seem interesting, relevant and heartfelt then people simply won’t be interested. Ask yourself,

“What can I do that would be valuable and remarkable?”

Here are some suggestions of ways to produce newsworthy content:

  • solve a challenge that no one else has
  • run an original study that answers or brings insight to a common problem
  • create something that is deeply inspiring and emotional
  • create something very funny or entertaining that sits well with your brand values
  • create something that surprises people
  • make a significant contribution to your community
  • create a valuable resource that has a wide appeal

Creating a truly outstanding site is difficult and takes time, planned action, disciplined follow-through and plenty of testing and adjusting. But in the end the effort involved will definitely reflect positively in your revenue.


The Future of Advertising: Crowdsourced Video

2017 video marketing

Video is the most powerful marketing medium, but it is notoriously expensive and time-consuming to produce. However, some advertisers are turning to crowdsourcing to make dynamic, authentic and viral video.

Rather than discussing your ideas directly with the ad agency, to crowdsource an ad you would put a brief out to all of your customers, who will create grass-roots, creative and individual content. (And if you’re lucky, some of your respondents may even produce high quality content – from film students through to videographers, animators and directors…)

Another way to crowdsource video ads is to ask the audience for ideas or treatments, then the company will select the one that they like the most, and reward the creator.

So, how should marketers embrace the opportunities that crowdsourcing presents?

Firstly, you must be willing to listen, and be curious about how your customers perceive and use your brand and its products. Secondly, you have to be willing to let people play with your product and the idea – as this will result in a huge variety of responses, ideas and potential ads. And remember, the ads that are way off the mark for your brand do not have to be used.

Crowdsourced video may be high quality in the traditional sense, but more importantly it will be high quality in its ability to engage the audience. Audiences are more interested in authentic and inclusive storytelling, which is more likely to be what the crowd will create, as opposed to a sleek and polished advert by an agency.

Having one high-cost video that is repeated over six months is no longer the best way to advertise. Social media has created a need to make many videos that will keep the audience engaged and interested in the brand. Marketers should aim for multiple, cost-effective videos relevant to different customer types, campaigns and times of the year.

Finally, if the crowd creates the content it is a guarantee of its authenticity – the open, limitless variety of the crowd means that all genders, orientations, ages and ethnicities will be represented.

With the latest stats suggesting that 2018 will be the year of how-to videos on YouTube, you better be thinking about your video marketing strategy going forwards…

Marketing Automation for B2B

digital automation image

Marketing automation has become vital for marketers in any sector, however, for those in B2B, there is a resource that can bring insights. In order to understand the advances in this area, Digital Marketing Magazine has teamed up with Act-On Software for a dedicated webinar on the current state of marketing automation in B2B.

On the 14th December, Kate Jameson, Senior Manager for EMEA marketing at Act-On Software will discuss how marketing leaders are currently working, which strategies produce the best results and what should be implemented. The webinar will help you to rethink your current strategies, respond to the current marketing landscape and how to implement marketing automation.

Sign Up Here for free access to the webinar.

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Sebastian Paszek

Marketing manager

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