There’s no denying the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in performance marketing in recent months; particularly when it comes to steering innovation. Companies such as RevLifter and Honey, with their own products and technologies, continue to ‘disrupt’ the advertising and performance space while being awarded for such approaches in their respective fields.

Increasingly, an AI technology that focuses on how retailers approach cross-selling on-site, is another innovative approach of using AI in performance – algorithmically generating product sets in real time based on data, stock and behaviour.

With the technology highly commended within the industry (winning Online Product of the Year) and further plans afoot for 2018, PerformanceIN caught up with CEO and co-founder Sri Sharma on its recent developments and discussed how AI technology can drive the wider-performance industry forward.

Sri, firstly, tell us about Increasingly and your background in performance marketing?

SS: I’ve been in performance marketing since 2002, have founded two companies previously, including NMPi and have a passion for all things tech innovation.

Increasingly is an AI technology that transforms how retailers approach cross-selling on-site, in marketing and in-store. We work with brands including Samsung, Travis Perkins and Reiss growing both basket revenue and lifetime value.

I’m excited about Increasingly because we are solving an important problem in retail: how retailers can grow their cross-sell revenue. Gartner reports that this is at minimum a 10% missed revenue opportunity.

Increasingly’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology focuses particularly on cross-selling. How does this work?

SS: Our core proposition is artificial intelligence-driven product bundling. This is something that Amazon does, generating $14B per year from it. However, 98% of retailers don’t because of poor solutions in the market.

We then expanded our technology platform to be able to offer AI driven intelligent cross-sell recommendations based on any trigger. For example, high-value customers are shown the best alternatives where products are out of stock along with an incentive to buy.

Our approach uses a cutting-edge field of AI called neural networking. To do this, customer behaviour data, such as purchased, abandoned and viewed data, is processed anonymously. The algorithms have key influencers such as the recency of purchase, impulse behaviour and affordability exposure.

Ultimately it’s all about offering the customer massive convenience and economic value. These are two principles that Amazon swear by. The results speak for themselves for Amazon and for the clients we are working with, 5% to 15% extra revenue per month across all channels.

What are your current thoughts on AI in the affiliate and performance marketing industry?

SS: AI has been around in performance marketing for a long time. For example, Google and Facebook algorithms are heavily driven by AI. At the same time, there are lots of interesting new companies that are exploring AI solutions to unsolved problems. Increasingly is one of them.

Others include companies such as Phrasee, who are addressing email copy optimisation using natural language processing. Another company I think is in an interesting space is Automated Insights, which can take a product feed and use AI to convert it into an interesting website, email or blog copy.

I’m a big advocate for companies to use the latest technologies to grow their businesses. Within the affiliate space specifically, I’m keen to see publishers, advertisers and networks test and adopt AI innovation. As a starting point, using machine learning models to identify opportunities within their own customer data sets.

There’s been a lot of talk around innovation when it comes to new technologies. Do you believe this is vital in driving the industry forward?

SS: Near where I live, a chain supermarket has just opened up directly opposite an old small grocery store. Within days, the old grocery store had their shutters down with a ‘for sale’ sign up.

This happens in retail and in every sector. Creativity and better execution strides ahead of the old and those slow to change.

In a world where technology’s impact on business and society is only accelerating, companies that don’t keep up to speed will get left behind. The only way to avoid being left behind is to innovate internally or work with partners that offer innovative products. That’s where we come in – our sole purpose is to help retailers innovate and grow revenue.

Increasingly was highly commended and runner-up for Best Retail Tech at the Performance Marketing Awards in addition to winning Online Product of the Year at The Retail Awards. Where does the value lie in being commended/winning these categories?

SS: Winning awards does two things. Firstly, it provides third-party validation that supports our new client conversations. In our case, when judges from AO, Tesco and Superdry voted for us to win Online Product of the Year, it was very powerful. Secondly, we feel a sense of encouragement and motivation that we are on the right track. It feels so good!

Lastly, what else is in the pipeline for Increasingly for the rest of 2018?

SS: This is a very exciting time. We are evolving the on-site platform enormously. We are also starting to build our in-marketing platform to help retailers transform how they cross-sell through display, email and Google shopping.