Artificial intelligence (AI) was once thought to be the wave of the future, but AI technology is now present in our daily lives. We use Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and other virtual personal assistants for schedule reminders; music and movie recommendations are driven by machine learning through apps like Spotify and Netflix; and numerous smart-home devices adjust settings based on learned behaviors and preferences. AI technology is widespread, with applications all over the spectrum.
With this technology and its seemingly endless possibilities, marketers sense opportunity. Companies are beginning to understand how to strategically grow their brand and positively affect strategy through AI. Snapchat’s Crowd Surf function is a great example. Crowd Surf uses AI machine-learning technology to determine when a large number of Snapchat users are recording the same thing at the same time, and it stitches their individual content together into footage longer than the 10-second maximum allotted to individual users.
Putting AI to the Test With Crowd Surf
This synthesis function can be employed anywhere many people congregate, such as concerts, sporting events, festivals and parades. Snapchat recently tested Crowd Surf at Lorde’s performance at the 2017 Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco, with exciting results. When Lorde started playing “Green Light” and everyone put their phones in the air to record the moment via the Snapchat app, Crowd Surf mashed those individual snippets together to create a video that allows viewers to watch the performance from different vantage points.
I use Snapchat regularly to stay in touch with friends, share quick updates and see pictures that were cool in that moment, but not for things that needed to be permanently saved on my phone. And as an avid concert goer myself, I regularly use Snapchat to send videos of the best parts of the show so my friends—who may have FOMO because they skipped the show—can see that the fear was legitimate, they are missing out on great times. The videos are mostly recordings of the backs of people’s heads with music playing in the background, but I’m confident my friends love them regardless. And with the Crowd Surf function, users like me are even more likely to capture and share videos at events in an effort to be a part of the machine-selected Crowd Surf video.
While I use Snapchat at concerts to make friends a little jealous, Crowd Surf is a truly unique way for people to experience events they wouldn’t be able to otherwise The use of machine-learning technology to analyze when Snapchat users are recording the same thing gives people an opportunity to relive the moment, and for others to feel like they were there by experiencing multiple perspectives of the same event.
Improving Brand Strength Through Immersive Videos
As with Stories and Filters, Snapchat knows Crowd Surf can be used to improve its brand’s strength, and the strategy to use videos that users are already creating and turn them into an immersive experience for others is an ingenious way to have user-created content engage new users.
With Crowd Surf, Snapchat is jumping into the AI game to not only increase loyalty among users like me, but also to draw new users who enjoy community engagement. An effort like this requires a large volume of users submitting videos, and Snapchat definitely has that at large events now. If Crowd Surf grows in popularity, its existence on the Snapchat platform should be enough to attract even more video submissions from users with hopes of being included.
Crowd Surf is just one example of companies using technology industry strategies in fascinating ways to grow their brand. I’m really interested to see this expand to events like the Super Bowl or World Series next! We’ll be watching here at Market Strategies to see where different brands take AI and machine learning in 2018 and beyond.