Mondelez Doubles Down On Facebook Chatbots

What Happened
Mondelez International has reportedly increased its investment in developing branded chatbots for Facebook’s messaging app. Mondelez, whose brand portfolio includes household names such as Oreo, Cadbury, and Trident, has renewed its global partnership with Facebook, specifically doubling down on creating Messenger bots and targeted ads using Facebook’s Audience Insights API. Though the company has yet to reveal which brands it is building chatbots for or when they will roll out, it did confirm that the chatbots in development will be designed to either support customer service or push for direct sales on Messenger.  

What Brands Need To Do
As more and more smartphone users turn to messaging apps, brands would be smart to follow suit and join them on those conversational platforms. In that context, chatbots can be a great tool for promoting fan engagement, handling simple customer service requests, or even serving as an ecommerce portal. Mondelez’s increased investment shows its confidence in the potential of Facebook chatbots and that it can leverage them to better serve its customers.

For more information on how brands can make use of chatbots to connect with fans, please check out our Fast Forward analysis on Facebook’s F8 Event.


Source: AdWeek

How This Online Vinyl Store Uses A Chat Bot To Sell Records

What Happened
The Edit, an SMS-based vinyl retailer, is an ecommerce venture launched by Seattle-based startup ReplyYes eight months ago. It uses the ReplyYes text-to-buy platform to send customers automated text messages of daily vinyl offers and allows them to simply reply “yes” to initiate the purchase process. Users can also reply “like” or “dislike” to inform the bot of their musical preferences. The Edit says it has so far sold over 50,000 records to tens of thousands of subscribers in this way. The company attributes much of its early success to an algorithm powering the bot that recommends records based on purchase behavior and other interest-level data. Furthermore, whenever a customer asks a question beyond the bot’s capability, a customer service rep will quickly step in and provide an appropriate response.

What Brands Need To Do
Since Facebook introduced bots to its Messenger platform last week, chat bots have been pushed into the industry spotlight and received a considerable amount of doubts and criticisms. Most early reviews of Messenger bots rightfully pointed out their cognitive limitations and lack of sophistication. However, The Edit’s success shows that it is possible for brands and businesses to find an appropriate way to use chat bots to engage and communicate with customers, as long as they are aware of their limitations and incorporate a human touch to avoid frustrating the customers. As chat bots continue to evolve and mature, we expect to see more brands figure out how to properly use them to serve customers on conversational platforms.

For more information on how brands can develop authentic brand voices and navigate the new rules of discovery, check out the Conversational Interfaces section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: AdWeek

Messaging App Kik Launches Chat Bot Shop

What Happened
Kik, a messaging app popular among teens in North America, has officially launched an in-app store for chat bots today. Aiming to build out its platform and attract more brands and publishers, Kik now allows developers to use Kik’s API to create chat bots on behalf of brands and serve users with entertainment content, customer service, and other functions via automated replies. The Washington Post, for example, is working on a chat bot that can surface relevant news stories at readers’ requests. Other brands and media owners that are trying out this Bot Shop include H&M, Vine, and The Weather Channel. The new Bot Shop will be the focal point for their discovery.

What Brands Need To Do
The launch came right on the heels of Microsoft’s debut of its Bot Framework for building cross-platform chat bots last week. Similarly, Facebook also quietly released an SDK that allows developers to build bots for its Messenger app in January. While it is too early to tell how Kik’s Bot Shop will stack up against competitors, it nevertheless provides an interesting new way for brands to connect with young users. With eMarketer predicting that messaging apps will reach 80% of global smartphone users by 2018, brands would be smart to consider experimenting with branded chat bots to reach customers on popular messaging apps.

To learn more about how brands can use chat bots to better serve customers via messaging interfaces, check out our Fast Forward feature on this topic.


Source: AdWeek

Header image courtesy of Kik’s Blog

Fast Forward: Microsoft Rolls Out Conversations As A Platform

• Microsoft announced a major initiative that enables the development of cross-platform bots
• Brands can develop bots to reach customers on messaging apps that are popular among mobile users
• Branded bots are poised to become a crucial tool for brands to get on conversational interfaces

What Microsoft Announced
On Wednesday at its annual developer conference Build, Microsoft unveiled its grand vision for building out the next-gen tools for conversation-based platforms. And at the center of its plan is a bot framework that will allow developers to build cross-platform bots that will enable brands to communicate with customers, enhance services, and gather feedback across websites, social media, messaging apps, and Office 365 email. The BotBuilder SDK is now available on GitHub under an open source MIT license.

Moreover, Microsoft also announced that it’s adding Cortana, Microsoft’s AI personal assistant, and an API for bots to Skype with the launch of Skype Bots Platform. Skype users will soon be able to book trips, shop, or order take-out just by talking with Cortana, who will communicate with third-party party bots to carry out the tasks as needed and aiding in the discovery of new services. The company also previewed the Skype Video Bot, which aims to bring bots into real-time video.

What Brands Need To Do

• Develop useful bots to reach customers on the messaging apps they’re already using
• Take advantage of the emerging popularity of conversational interfaces with messaging-based customer services
Integrate some humanizing touches into automated replies to make users feel more comfortable engaging with bots

For many brands, bots can be a great tool to reach customers on the messaging apps that they are already using. By developing cross-platform bots, brands will be able to tap into the marketing potential in conversational interfaces, which we discussed in detail in our Outlook 2016. Since mobile users spend the majority of their times in social and messaging apps, it is getting increasingly difficult to convince consumers to download an app for tasks that aren’t daily habits. Chat bots can help brands remove the friction in that process and serve customers directly in the places and methods that they are accustomed to.

Furthermore, well-designed bots can create an environment in which users are more willing to share free-form answers to open-ended questions than they would in a formulaic questionnaire, which could uncover valuable insights for brands from regular customer feedback. This kind of software is also much easier to iterate and improve as functionality that users want is requested explicitly and updates can be rolled out without the approval of App Store gatekeepers.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 3.07.33 PMFor travel and hospitality brands, bots can help users look up travel information and book flights and hotel rooms. Hyatt Hotels currently employs of a team of 60 across three global locations to help guests with their customer service needs via social and messaging channels. Earlier this week, KLM airlines announced a partnership with Facebook that will allow KLM customers to receive flight confirmations, check for flight status updates, and ask questions right in Facebook’s Messenger app. Building cross-platform bots with Microsoft’s framework can help automate and expand these use cases to more platforms and reach more customers.

For restaurants and QSR brands, bots can be of great help in handling online orders and gathering customer feedback. Microsoft showcased a Domino’s Pizza bot created with the BotBuilder framework, which works in multiple apps such as Skype and Slack and supports natural language interactions.

For retailers, bots can be a great tool for product recommendations while also allowing retailers to sell directly to users on messaging apps. For example, Sephora recently created a bot on messaging app Kik that will guide users through a short quiz and offer them a customized product recommendation based on the answers users give.

Market Impact
Microsoft is hardly the only company that wants to help developers and brands build bots. All major players in the development of conversational interfaces, from big companies such as Facebook and Google to messaging apps like Kik and Slack, have all announced their own programs and tools to help brands build bots to communicate with consumers. What Microsoft announced on Wednesday, however, will make it a lot easier for developers and brands to build bots that will work across various marketing channels and touchpoints. The coming proliferation of bots should also propel the mainstream adoption of conversational interfaces, which would change the rules of search and content discovery and further alter brand-customer interactions.

How We Can Help
Please contact Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) at the IPG Media Lab if you would like more detail or want to schedule a visit to the Lab to discuss how your brand may benefit from integrating with messaging apps and voice platforms.

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please visit Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your input will help us immensely.


All images courtesy of Microsoft’s developer site