How AI can help brands steer closer to inclusive design

Inclusivity is more important to marketers than ever; meanwhile customer segments and channels continue to proliferate. Maybe it’s time we had a little help marrying them up?

Mateusz Chrominski, Wunderman Thompson Technology Software Products Director, looks at how artificial intelligence (AI) can help us make sense of an increasingly complicated task…

One of the biggest challenges for businesses today is orchestrating customer experiences for an omnichannel world. New platforms and touchpoints and the demand for personalisation are driving a proliferation of customer segments and context-based decisions – all putting a huge burden on content delivery. 

In the light of this, forward thinking organisations are looking to AI to master the increasingly complex content supply chain, with 56 percent of respondents in Wunderman Thompson’s Building Better Experiences report stating that they are now using AI as part of the process. 

Most are applying it in the context of regulatory compliance (52 percent), content suggestions and recommendations (51 percent) and asset renditions for channels (50 percent). However, with diversity, equity & inclusion at the top of the agenda for businesses, there is powerful potential to start adopting it as a way of ensuring that content is both accessible and inclusive. 

In recent years AI has become increasingly embedded into digital experience workflows. Today, many AI and machine learning services come as part of DAM or a CMS, so businesses can reap the benefits of this technology. AI and machine learning can already help them understand more about their content and assets, and further deployment will inevitably lead to a rise in automation, powering simpler tasks and straightforward decision-making. AI can support marketing teams not only by improving efficiency – making the approval process quicker, for example – but also by checking for quality and compliance, working off a set of rules to benchmark against. Technology research company Forrester describes this fusion of human and machine capabilities as “the intelligent creativity process”.

As brands focus more and more on the diversity and inclusivity of their content, it’s this intelligent creativity process that can help them to actually achieve their goals, rather than simply talking about them. Tools powered by AI such as WPP Open Brand Guardian, created by Wunderman Thompson, can employ a bespoke set of rules to work in tandem with computer vision, enabling the AI to review assets for violations and automatically approve, reject or request further checks – meaning content can be quickly audited at scale. Marketers can then address any areas that might be problematic, anticipate future issues and make better decisions towards improvements. 

Of course, to be able to make use of these tools and steer closer to inclusive design, we first need to understand what accessible and diverse content actually looks like. The key areas that need to be taken account of across all assets are:

  • Accessibility
    The essentials such as legibility of text, contrast and spacing; ensuring content is accessible to all, including those with visual impairments.
  • Equal representation
    Content that features and therefore caters for people of every age, ethnicity, disability, gender and orientation.
  • Inclusive language
    Simplicity of copy, absence of restrictive or sensitive languages and an absence of stereotypes and bias in copy.
  • Non-stereotypical portrayal
    Ensuring the absence of any kind of stereotype or bias in imagery, voice and other portrayals.

Why now?

There is widespread recognition that making everyone feel welcome and equally valued in society is morally right, and furthermore that embracing a greater diversity of views and experiences brings newer, richer thinking into our lives. So it’s the brands that are able to engage with every audience that will see the greatest opportunities for growth. 

Consider that:

  • An estimated 1billion people, or 15 percent, of the world’s population, are living with disabilities

  • $31.8trillion dollars of spending is among women (with nearly nine out of 10 women in control or shared control of household expenditure)

  • spending power of the over 60s is over $15trillion dollars annually – more than double the buying power of the Millennial generation

Clearly it would be a huge mistake commercially to alienate or overlook such wide portions of the population.

What’s more, investing in inclusive content promotes an inherent sense of trust among suppliers, partners, employees and customers, with 70 percent of consumers preferring to buy from brands that are inclusive. And given the power of advertising / marketing content to actually shape society rather than just mirror it, inclusive content can help to promote broader acceptance of differences. 

AI can be considered more as a part of the team, acting as the ultimate ally when it comes to reaching your customers and producing better, more inclusive experiences for them. As AI constantly learns and evolves, offering up new information, it’s down to humans to be ready to act upon that information. 

As AI and the tools that use it become more sophisticated, they will be able to work even harder to influence strategies – with the test-and learn-cycle resulting in continuous optimisation. 

Mateusz Chrominski
Software Products Director
Wunderman Thompson Technology