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July 30, 2021


Have you heard of digitally generated supermodels? Yes, you heard that right. If you go on Instagram and look up their handles – koffi.gram, and shudu.gram, respectively, you will get to know of their virtual influence on Instagram. They have over 200k followers, and they get brand endorsements easily. They are deep fakes. They have convinced consumers of their existence. And, make no mistake, they have actual contracts with top fashion brands such as Gucci and Fendi. Now, let’s talk about digital marketing, AI data, and how it fuses with neuroscience to give birth to a new form of marketing called neuromarketing that is slowly making its foray into mainstream marketing and taking the digital world by storm. 

To give you a better understanding of where the world is headed, let me narrate a little story to you. 

An angry father walked into a store to talk to the store manager about the inappropriate coupons on baby products that the store manager was sending his daughter. However, the conversation quickly went from a heated one to an apologetic one when the store manager revealed his knowledge of his daughter’s pregnancy. Now, the question arises, how did the store manager know? The answer is – through artificial intelligence. If you’re thinking that this was made possible by data analytics or by behavioral retargeting, you’re heavily mistaken. No, the daughter didn’t browse through any pregnancy-related items. The store manager could predict a pregnancy by analyzing two offline sources of data – credit cards, and the target discount card. To put matters into perspective, this happened more than a decade ago. 

The marketers can not only predict future consumer behavior but also model or influence it by using the O.C.E.A.N analysis. We can break the acronym down to its following constituent traits – Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. Your O.C.E.A.N profile score on each of these traits determines how likely you are to purchase a given product. This analysis is one of the most effective means of predicting consumer behavior. Say yes to O.C.E.A.N analysis over horoscopes, maybe? You’ll probably learn more about yourself. 

Neuromarketing has been used in the political arena as well. Brexit and the US Presidential election of Donald Trump were made possible by using neuromarketing as an AI tool.

Cambridge created simple facebook surveys that 270,000 people took. They were given trivial questions to answer like – which Harry Potter house do they feel they belong to? And so on. Cambridge walked away with Facebook data from 87 million people and accomplished so without breaking the law. They created hyper-personal ads using the O.C.E.A.N profiles they made from such data. For instance, people who scored highly on neuroticism and conscientiousness were shown Pro-Trump ads. This is because if they score highly on these traits, they can be labeled as paranoid. And, paranoid people were more susceptible to preferring Donal Trump as a presidential candidate. The Pro-Trump ad showed an armed break-in by a burglar, and the ad read – the second amendment isn’t just a right, it’s an insurance policy to defend the right to carry arms at home; vote for Donald Trump. 


Look, honestly, we had a good run – getting drunk on free content (read: huge dopamine spikes), mindlessly scrolling through our Instagram and Facebook feed only to reduce our already diminishing attention spans; it is time to wake up from this bender. We were not willing to pay for these apps. Hence, we had to pay with the compromisation of our privacy. What is money? It’s a transfer of value. In the digital world, however, whenever we post a picture of us having fun or put out any piece of information, data, as a digital currency drives such transaction. And, these huge banks of digital data are being used to tailor ads that in turn are shaping how we think and behave, ultimately deciding our actions and taking away our free will. 


AI may not overshadow digital marketing. It may be integrated into digital marketing to enhance the consumer experience. Suppose, you are a consumer of a particular brand of almond milk. Let’s say you are a loyal customer of Raw Pressery Almond Milk. Now, if another almond milk company comes up with a tempting stat that shows 90% of the people who consumed local almond milk found no difference in taste between the local one and the one produced by Raw Pressery. Now, if this brand in question offers you a 50% discount on the price of its milk, the original quoted same as that of Raw Pressery, will you not be tempted to buy it? Such persuasive marketing tactics will be employed by AI in the future to enhance the consumer experience. Where does Neuromarketing come into play here? If you score highly on Openness and Agreeableness on the O.C.E.A.N profile score, you’d be deemed highly to be persuaded by such marketing tactics. Yes, awareness of such marketing ploys might disillusion to the core but it may not be as bad as you think. Everything has its set of advantages and drawbacks. It is up to us, the consumers, to finally decide what to keep, and what to throw and not give in to temptations all the time. 


It poignantly discusses how detrimental the concoction of AI, Neuroscience and Digital Marketing can be on the privacy of the consumers globally. It presents the counter argument for how it can be a boon as to make buying decisions simpler for consumers going forward.