PR & Influence
Coding Feelings: How AI Is Edging Toward Empathy

Artificial intelligence (AI) combined with a human-centric perspective to marketing might seem like a contrarian approach, but in reality, machine learning, AI, automation, and scaling are integral for marketers today to transform data into empathetic, human-centric experiences.

Emily Poon, Asia President of Ogilvy PR and Influence says artificial empathy through virtual influencers (VIs), helps advertisers in understanding how customers emotionally connect to the brand and the message. Insights can be used to evolve content and messaging to help optimise campaign performance.

Empathy in AI: Resetting the narrative

By personalising and scaling brand interactions, VIs can offer up to three times the engagement rate of their human counterparts–no wonder, the number of virtual influencers has grown to 200 in 2022, up from one in 2016. They offer an exciting proposition for brands looking to find new ways to engage the audience.

Lil Miquela, or Miquela Sousa, changed the game. Since debuting on Instagram in 2016, the brown-eyed, doe-faced, freckled beauty hustled the gig economy for over 3 million followers, topped Spotify charts with indie-pop tunes that garner millions of streams per month, became the face of Chanel, Prada and Samsung campaigns, kissed supermodel Bella Hadid for Calvin Klein and speaks for causes she believes in.  

There is a reason why consumers connect so deeply with a pixel-generated character and not a customer service chat box. While both–the pre-recorded, pre-scripted automated chat box and the likeable, approachable avataar run on AI, the differentiator is the empathy they illicit.

In a report titled Digital Empathy: Can Virtual Interactions Create Meaningful Connections, Ogilvy states that in the age of deepfakes and artificial intelligence, digital success depends solely “upon the bedrocks of influence, creativity and empathy.”

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