Persado's software-generated marketing messages can now be emotionally manipulative

Jonathan Shieber

There are few fields that have embraced the marketing potential and self-mythologizing power of machine learning as readily as marketing.

Indeed, few industries seem more perfectly matched to this particular cultural moment of hype, obfuscation, outsized claims and flim-flammery as the modern sales industry.

So it's little wonder that an industry that was always more art than science -- or rather about the commodification of art in the service of the science of the sale -- would embrace the mechanics of machine learning to emotionally manipulate an audience to sell more stuff more effectively through email and social media.

That's what Persado, the machine learning company that previously raised $30 million from Goldman Sachs and a slew of others, is announcing today along with a new $30 million credit facility from Silicon Valley Bank to boost its own marketing reach.

No longer is Persado's automatically generated sales copy "cognitive," it's now "emotional." The company says its new tool uses deep learning algorithms to create an emotional profile for individual users based on previous campaigns, then generates corresponding language to personalize the message.

Basically, the software identifies what messages made suckers click through direct marketing ads before, then uses that information to build out a profile of how readers respond to certain messaging.

The company is also expanding its suite of marketing tools to a broader swath of messaging platforms, including social media. Here's an example of Persado's A/B testing of a pitch for pre-sale access to a U2 show on Facebook.

Which begs the question, "What if Persado's marketing software is just selling a shitty product?" (sorry y'all, but the "Songs of Innocence" debacle is unforgivable).

Assaf Baciu, Persado's co-founder, says that the messaging campaigns work no matter how awful the subject of the pitch. The last time we spoke, he put the efficacy of Persado's messaging at about 50 percent higher than if companies didn't use the software.

The company has identified pride, trust, anticipation, joy and fear as the key emotions that marketers need to play on to get a response from customers. Apparently, everyone fits into one of these buckets, something that I'm afraid I'll happily look forward to sneering about for days to come.

The company's new toolkits come in two separate sales levels. "Persado Enterprise" includes options for email, display advertising, social advertising, landing pages, SMS and push notifications in as many as 23 languages. Meanwhile, "Persado Professional" packages give individual marketers tools to better write the perfectly crafted marketing pitch using the company's software insights.

So even if a marketer isn't replaced by a machine, they can still use the machine's insights to act like one.

The future is awesome.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes