Danone Innovation Director: Combining UGC And AI Is The Future of Targeted Marketing

11 Feb, 2021

Marrying UGC and AI is the next big thing in targeted marketing but brands must be wary of privacy concerns, says Danone Innovation Director Anirban Basu, the latest guest on MAD//Fest’s partner podcast, Shiny New Object. Host and Automated Creative Founder Tom Ollerton shares the conversation.

Anirban Basu is the Innovation Director at Danone, focusing on the cutting edge of marketing developments and how to harness these in specialised nutrition. 

With an illustrious background in marketing in the food and drinks industry, Anirban believes that the next big thing, his Shiny New Object, will be the combination of UGC and AI – two acronyms that we delved into on the podcast.

When Anirban started his first marketing role at PepsiCo, he brought with him the experience of a sales career and the willingness to say “yes” as much as possible in order to seize opportunities.

 This was both a positive and a negative, as he could immerse himself into marketing by talking to all the other brand managers who would bounce ideas off him, but never felt like he had a very important role to play. His innovation marketing role wasn’t the most crucial within the company, but it led to him progressing on to other opportunities which eventually landed him where he is today.

Anirban’s Shiny New Object is UGC with AI – the combination of user-generated content with artificial intelligence. This refers to taking user-generated content and passing it through sophisticated analysis software that can predict trends, preferences, and, ultimately, the best marketing strategy for a brand. While we are not there yet, Anirban sees the full development of this technology taking place in the next two years at most.

While this combination of technology may make many of us nervous, especially when Anirban mentioned software that can be installed on your phone to selectively listen for audio markers into TV ads and help brands target you with advertising of their own, there is definitely merit in using these two trends together. 

As Anirban puts it, “Valuable insights can happen when you start to combine UGC with AI” because all the useful information that we share to social media can be sifted through and focused on by AI without it taking the long hours and intensive labour it would otherwise do to get the same results manually.

A good example of when, retrospectively, this could have worked well, is Anirban’s brand development for PepsiCo’s Slice mango juice in India. 

Whilst they had ample amounts of UGC from people sharing pictures with mangoes and mango drinks to social media, they would have to manually pick out trends from this information. It was only years later that his team realised opportunities to create product developments based on user insight, which could have been gleaned easily by AI.

Anirban says “we have pretty much democratised creativity” with apps like TikTok, so why not go one step further and harness the power of AI on this content and user insights?

 It’s a fine line to balance the use of AI technology with maintaining users’ privacy, but there is definitely more work to be done into how AI can filter UGC and yield results for marketers. 

To find out more about Anirban’s top marketing and career tips, listen to the podcast here.

Tom Ollerton is the Founder of Automated Creative. Subscribe to the ‘Shiny New Object’ Podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube and Soundcloud.

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