Brain Chatter: Domino's, Data and the Destiny all Marketers Should Pursue

May 10, 2017 Shane Schick

You think you’re just ordering a pizza. Choosing some toppings.

What you’re really doing is co-developing a product -- and giving companies like Domino’s critical information about what combinations will grow their business.

Long before we used terms like “crowdsourcing” to describe the way brands and their customers could brainstorm together, pizzerias were already focused on the real-time creation of customized designs. They just didn’t talk about that way. No wonder a brand like Domino’s is now acting much more like a tech company to get a bigger slice of its sector’s market share.

As AdAge reported, Domino’s is partnering with “If This, Then That,” or IFTT, which uses lightweight software programs called applets to, in layman’s terms, make things do stuff. For example:

 

Domino's is adding its Domino's Tracker, which estimates where orders are in the prep and delivery process, to IFTTT along with some applets that take advantage. One will turn off certain sprinklers when the Domino's Tracker shows that an order is on its way. Another will turn on a Samsung PowerBot when an order is being prepared so the floor is vacuumed before the meal.

These may sound like novelty tricks, but they represent the start of something important.

Companies like Domino’s need to understand how to play with data in more imaginative ways to create more dynamic customer experiences. What they’ll learn will help them make use of even more sophisticated technologies, like artificial intelligence (AI).

I got a sneak peek at that not-so-distant future recently when I went to “Magic & Logic,” the annual conference put on by the Canadian Media Directors Council (CMDC).

One of the standout speakers was Geoffrey Hinton, the University of Toronto professor whose AI lab, the Vector Institute, made international headlines when it launched in March.

Hinton said that a lot of marketing data today is used to understand why something worked or not after the fact. For example, Domino’s will quickly learn whether anyone cares about having a clean floor before their pizza arrives.

AI, on the other hand, could allow marketers to take data and predict how they’ll respond. By looking at patterns of information, you could know the best date, time and subject line to use in an e-mail sent to a specific consumer.

Or you could use AI to develop an entire marketing campaign -- including some of the creative aspects.

“Creativity is not a problem for them. It's a natural part of the way they work,” said Hinton, who referred to “AI” as though it were a breed of animal rather than a set of technologies.

Right now computers can learn what the word “cat” or “dog” means, but AI is helping look at data in a more nuanced way -- like understanding that cats are often a metaphor for women and dogs are often a metaphor for men.

“Once you've learned these patterns you can do analogies,” he explained. “That’s the essence of the new AI and it’s closely related to creativity.”

Brands should start thinking today about how they could apply this kind of AI tomorrow, because as it stands now, data is being used as superficially as toppings on a pizza. Marketing that learns and adapts in 30 minutes or less -- that’s where the real dough is.


Shane Schick is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and tells stories about innovation in IT, content and more. ShaneSchick.com


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