JPMorgan Chase & Co. is adopting artificial intelligence that’s meant to improve what the financial-services firm says in its marketing messages, such as email pitches to prospective borrowers.
It signed a five-year deal to use a tool from software company Persado Inc. designed to make marketing messages more effective, the two companies said. They declined to disclose the terms.
JP Morgan Chase will start by applying Persado to direct-response emails and online display ads, and perhaps headlines on direct mail, but doesn’t plan to use it for broader branding work.
The deal follows trials that included using Persado on JP Morgan Chase pitches for credit cards and mortgages.
“They made a couple of changes that made sense and I was like, ‘Why were we so dumb that we didn’t figure that out?’” said Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer at JPMorgan Chase. “And some of them weren’t intuitive—like they added words to one of the headlines, where a marketer would have thought you should take it out and add more white space.”
In one test, a headline by human copywriters urged consumers to “Access cash from the equity in your home,” with the call to action “Take a look.” A variant created by Persado was headlined “It’s true—You can unlock cash from the equity in your home” and suggested “Click to apply.”
The Persado version generated 47 weekly applications for home equity lines of credit, compared with 25 for the original version, JPMorgan Chase said.
Marketing executives are under growing pressure to demonstrate and improve the results of their work. Some hope that AI can help on both fronts, even if it means playing a smaller role in certain creative decisions.
“It kind of starts to take away the era of the CMO making the almighty, subjective call,” Ms. Lemkau said. “You still have to have a point of view, but on writing copy it would be nice to just nail it.”
CMOs now need to become skilled at sorting through the sea of vendors that claim to offer powerful AI capabilities, Ms. Lemkau and others said.
“Ninety percent of the people who are pitching to me use the words AI-powered or powered by AI. But scratch below the surface and you find it is largely jargon,” said Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at payment services company Mastercard Inc.
Mastercard is testing AI tools for marketing, including those that aim to find the best message, visuals and layout, he said.
“You don’t have to be a super expert in AI, but you should know enough in terms of depth and breadth to be asking the right questions and be able to challenge someone if the answer seems disingenuous,” Rajamannar added.
Use of machine-driven ad copy may rise as technology improves and as marketers try to tailor messages to consumers in ever-narrower segments, said Andrew Van Aken, a data scientist and senior consultant at advertising agency Ogilvy Group.
“But for things like TV ads or a brand campaign or general awareness, that’s an area where people are going to be hesitant because language is so nuanced,” Mr. Van Aken said. “You think about Nike and ‘Just do it’—it means so many things to so many people.”
New York-based Persado, which doesn’t yet work in TV or video pitches, said its tool doesn’t replace human judgment.
“Artificial intelligence will be replacing some tasks, some trivial tasks, but this is far from being trivial,” said Alex Vratskides, co-founder and chief executive at Persado. “This is something that is very, very complicated, and the human and the machine need to work together.”