Mediaclip’s R&D team constantly experiments with different options to achieve rich photobooks that tell a story by enabling users to express themselves while balancing the time it takes to create them. We see many techniques today that will help us use AI in a lot of very useful ways, but we did not find a solution that can replace carefully crafted designs and traditional algorithms in a cost-effective way.
There are specific things we have yet to see before we recommend AI as a core engine for product personalization:
Creating compelling designs and layouts – Our smart design system already allows for rich and interesting designs that cater to all sorts of life events and product styles. Users can easily reorganize and recompose their pages based on the best possible layouts for their needs. Existing image intelligence services can help to automatically enhance images or to automatically crop images when the design requires it, for example when using licensed content. This is all currently available without using AI-based tools.
Cost-effectiveness – There are currently two methods to provide AI-based service; client AI (usually available on mobile devices to scan a user’s library of images) and server-based AI. There are some great solutions for providing product recommendations on a mobile device; however, both methods can be much more expensive than their non-AI counterparts. Note: we believe that (specifically) for mobile apps’ “photo discovery” and curation capabilities, AI offers very strong options to consider today.
Control over the result. AI, more specifically machine learning, is excellent at guessing a method that will reproduce what you feed it. However, this also greatly reduces your ability to tweak and adapt the algorithm for your needs. If you believe an image should be handled slightly differently, or if your design team would like to make a specific design decision based on image orientation, they’ll be severely limited.
We were able to create impressive demos using existing solutions and prototyping ideas using proprietary and open-source software. However, our development efforts focus on conversion rates, user satisfaction, and increasing revenue for our customers and partners, not making “cool” showcases. We are not satisfied with the current solutions and cannot recommend jumping on the AI ship just yet. We do believe however that this is a field worth our time and investment as the associated costs decline and the offerings get better.
In conclusion, we believe AI is an extraordinary, albeit pricey, tool to help photo curation on mobile devices and on photo hosting sites. It can also provide meaningful insights into user content and help drive how you present and communicate with users on your site. However, these insights and benefits come at a cost that doesn’t yet make it a ‘no brainer’ decision. Keep in mind, Artificial Intelligence is not a feature; it doesn’t do anything by itself. It is a method that can solve specific categories of problems efficiently. Remember the saying, “when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail?” Well in this conversation, AI is a demolition hammer; it’s an extremely helpful tool to have in your shed but it won’t help you decorate.
The limitations of current AI solutions are not negligible. Sacrificing choice and style in favor of layout intelligence, when that intelligence is already available at a fraction of the cost with traditional coding, makes AI a less compelling option for now. Of course, there may be early tech adopters who are not deterred by certain levels of business risk when using AI-based solutions for layout intelligence. We, too, believe in AI and it is merely a matter of time until we discover a cost-effective way to utilize its capabilities in a way that is beneficial to both our customers and their shoppers.
Now, don’t get us wrong, we are thrilled with the myriad of possibilities of artificial intelligence. We are amazed by the constant new developments and can only envision positive opportunities moving forward. It would, however, be irresponsible to recommend using AI-based solutions at this time, as they’re not yet economically viable options to use for large-scale projects compared to traditional approaches that yield the same results. We are eager to discover more data-driven research and experiments on specific AI-based features that our customers can apply to their own business sector and user personas. We will continue working on assessing solutions and investigating the effect on important metrics like conversion rates and user satisfaction.
By all means, the choice is yours to decide if AI answers the needs of your business and/or the demands of your shoppers despite its current high cost. However, please make it outside of the marketing hype – due diligence is as crucial here as in any other business venture.