Get ready for the cognitive marketing revolution


Everyday AI At Work Blog Series

Last month Chevrolet, the iconic US auto brand, launched the Chevy Global Positivity System to reinforce its association with a positive, never-give-up attitude, as part of its newest global brand awareness campaign. What’s notable about this is that the campaign breaks new ground in marketing by leveraging artificial intelligence to support brand engagement.

Chevrolet is leveraging IBM Watson APIs including the Watson Personality Insights – a cognitive computing service that extracts and analyzes a spectrum of personality attributes from things people have written – to help users of the Global Positivity System evaluate how positive they are through their social media posts by generating an overall positivity score. The Chevrolet Global Positivity System also identifies people’s most positive and least positive posts, their most frequently used positive words and emojis, and highlights their top three personality traits, such as excitement and self-expression. Then, the site encourages users to Find New Roads that may appeal to their traits, such as touring a museum or taking on a new hobby.

This may at first seem a little far-fetched but the Chevrolet campaign is just one example of how AI can be leveraged to reinvent branding and marketing. And that make the new field of cognitive marketing a potential goldmine.

Why? Because on the one hand it opens the way for highly-interactive, customer-centric marketing applications that go way beyond the conventional marketing tool kit of advertising, publicity, direct marketing and social media engagement. And on the other it works across the open social media data set, which is massive, enabling companies to understand and target particular customer profiles in their markets.

Ready for prime time

Early movers in cognitive marketing include social data company StatSocial, which has identified over 600 million social profiles and their characteristics, as defined by over 30,000 demographic and lifestyle variables, lifting the veil on social media audiences. Compared to conventional social media marketing – which tends toward throwing stuff against a wall, based on best guesses informed by limited data, and seeing what sticks – StatSocial eliminates the guess work.

And it’s not just demographics, geography, or even likes and dislikes. By integrating Personality Insights into its reporting, StatSocial can also tell you what percentage of your audience is anxious, ambitious, altruistic, angry, happy, and so forth. This enables brands to understand, segment, and target their audiences on the web with highly-personalized campaigns.

Independent online bookstore Alibris provides another great example of cognitive marketing. It leveraged Personality Insights to analyze an initial 1,250 authors to discover and group the works of those with similar personalities. It then invited users to name their favorite authors, submit book reviews or, better yet, provide access to their social media content in order to gain insight into their personalities and make better book recommendations. As a result, Alibris was able to increase the duration of website visits by 331%, decrease its bounce rate by 35% and improve its e-commerce conversion rate by 61%.

Doing it right

As a responsible corporate citizen IBM sees strong governance as going hand-in-hand with the successful application of AI across a broad range of commercial fields. That’s why we recently joined forces with industry’s other leading players to form the Partnership on AI, with the principal goal of supporting research and recommending best practices in areas including ethics, fairness, inclusivity and transparency.

As we look ahead at the development of cognitive marketing there seem little doubt that it will become an increasingly important item on the chief marketing officer agenda. After all, there’s no putting the AI genie back in the bottle and as with all technological points of inflection, considerable advantage goes to the early movers.

Are you thinking of getting to grips with cognitive marketing to drive innovative customer engagement? We’d love to hear where you see it making the biggest impact.

By Andy Wong, Executive, Marketing and Communications, IBM China/Hong Kong Limited


  1. Discover Your Positive Influence With the Help of Chevy and IBM Watson
  2. Think Blog: Find Your Positivity with Chevrolet and Watson

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