Chatbots can be good for advertisers and audiences

by Nigel Hollis | April 11, 2018

Last year Kantar Millward Brown added to its long list of digital firsts stretching back over two decades when it tested the impact of an AI chatbot integrated within outstream video ads. The results were positive, as they often are for new ad formats, but could the adoption of chatbots in ads be a way to make digital advertising more user-friendly?

Ad tech company Teads integrated the TMY.GRL chatbot into video ads for the Spring 2017 launch of Tommy Hilfiger's Tommy X Gigi collection. Kantar Millward Brown ran a custom study that accompanied the cross-screen, UK campaign. Comparing the responses of users exposed to the chatbot creative compared to non-exposed within a high-quality mock-up of the campaign environment significant uplifts across awareness, favorability and consideration reflecting the high engagement rates with the live campaign (for more detail on specific results click here).


Importantly, 67 percent of the mobile users admitted to finding the chatbot “fun and engaging” which makes me wonder if this new ad format might help one of the biggest issues with digital advertising. Is this an opportunity for a more polite and respectful form of advertising?

In this year’s AdReaction, The Art of Integration, almost three out of four people told us that they are seeing more ads than three years ago and that they find those ads to be more intrusive. And last year’s AdReaction report showed that Gen Z, the new generation of digital users, demand far greater control over the ads they are exposed to, but also appreciate opportunities to interact with ads (e.g. via voting).

Chatbots could provide a means to satisfy both desires, particularly if the chatbot opened up the conversation with, “Is this a good time to chat?” If not, then it could ask, “How about later?” This more human approach might mitigate one of the biggest complaints about ads, that they interrupt users when they want to do something else, by seeming to respect that the user’s time and own interests are important. Or asking “Are you interested in this brand?” could help cut down on users repeatedly seeing an ad for a brand for which they have no affinity.

The amazing thing about the digital advertising environment is that for all its potential for interactivity most advertising still follows the old push model where ads are thrust at people without any consideration for their time and interests. Even with today’s sophisticated targeting systems the probability that an ad is immediately relevant to someone is not 100 percent. A simple question from a chatbot could improve the accuracy of future targeting and make the interaction seem more human, acknowledging respect for the user and perhaps taking the edge of the interruption. But what do you think? Please share your thoughts. 


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  1. Dorene Bourdon, April 14, 2018
    I think that what they are doing with this chatbox is awesome. I for one would really like to install whenever it is available 
  2. Dorene Bourdon, April 14, 2018
    I think this is real exciting. I think they really got something going here
  3. Dorene Bourdon, April 14, 2018
    Very interesting  food for thought I shared it on Facebook. 

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