Marketing solutions company Equals 3 launched ‘Lucy’ in May of 2016. Billed as a cognitive companion for marketers, Lucy is a machine learning-based intelligent assistant that makes use of IBM’s Watson platform, and applies it to solve marketing problems. Lucy is seeing significant adoption, and was recently named a “Ad Tech/Marketing Tech/Financial Tech to Watch” finalist by Advertising Age. MarTech Series caught up with Equals 3 co-founder Scott Litman, to see Lucy in action, talk about their growth since launch, and the benefits of using the IBM Watson platform.
Lucy works by using the natural language processing and predictive analytics powers of IBM Watson, and integrating APIs from hundreds of disparate data sources, thus allowing marketers to quickly leverage first and third party data. Litman believes that because Lucy can accomplish in hours what would previously take days or weeks to do, this represents a huge leap for the way marketing teams operate. He said that Lucy integrates more APIs than any other Watson product, “sifting through massive amounts of data to provide the most relevant answer to a virtually limitless amount of questions.”
With Lucy, businesses can capitalize on this cognitive capacity to automate time-consuming tasks, boost productivity, allowing sales & marketing to focus on revenue generation. Activities that require a lot of man hours, such as pulling together customer profiles, researching potential markets, and building media plans, are completed much faster. Litman feels that Lucy is a unique solution in that there is no other AI based assistant which can integrate data from proprietary third party data licensed by their clients.
In the 9 months since launching Lucy, they have seen significant adoption from enterprise brands and global agencies. Six of the top global agencies are working with them, he said, naming WPP and Havas Media as two of the biggest clients. This success he thinks is because there is no other AI based solution with this level of “cognitive and emotional (more on that below) ability,” and because of Watson’s “fantastic ability to scale.”
Equal 3 currently offers three use cases for sales and marketing teams to use Lucy – research, segmentation, and media planning. Litman pointed out that Lucy is customized for each and every client, because depending on the data of the client, the AI needs to be trained to understand it. Understanding of language combined with the training of data from various structured, unstructured and licensed data sources of each client, is how Lucy can answer with precision exactly what the user is looking for.
Litman thinks Lucy is a great tool for actually putting to use all of the data that clients invest in, but don’t utilize. With the amount of data a Fortune 1000 enterprise can generate, it’s virtually an impossible task for human teams to glean insights at scale and speed. “The real value is that Lucy saves time in the minutiae of market research.”
He showed how it pulls together a report in minutes, by finding graphs, data, articles and media by searching thousands of documents across the client’s disparate data sources. However Lucy does not crawl public domain data, so only sources owned or licensed by the client can be tapped.
While demonstrating the segmentation ability of Lucy, Litman emphasized on how it allows marketers to build 1:1 personalization at scale. “Lucy creates unique audience segments which allows us to get to a level of emotional understanding of the customer.” This is done by using psychological models developed by Carl Jung, to segment customers based on their emotional profile.
So customers are segmented not just on the basic filters like geography and demographics, but Lucy also segments them into in-built emotional personas such as Magician, Sage, and Rebel etc. “These segments represent a much better way to create personal customer experiences at every step of the way. By looking at a customer on a 1:1 level and analyzing what they are talking about, marketers can run tighter, smarter journeys, and run personalized campaigns and social ads for target segments.”
How do they plan to compete with new AI technology from tech giants, and what does the future look like for Lucy? Equal 3 is positioning Lucy as a companion tool, says Litman, which can sit side-by-side with the largest systems used by enterprises, and removing the need for marketers to login into several interfaces. He added that they benefit from having great relationships with the third party data providers of all kinds, including business databases, web data, social data, news sources etc.
For now, he says, Equal 3 is focused on adding new features and expanding their growing client base.