Fly High with Curated User-Generated Content

Artificial intelligence could pave the way for more consumers to create and share great photos and other content that brands can repurpose.

When travel and hospitality (T&H) brands post great visuals online, especially on social media, it can sway a reader’s opinion and help sell an experience. But producing that captivating imagery can take a lot of time, effort, and know-how.

Enter artificial intelligence (AI). Its power to enable better photos of travel destinations and give more options to choose from is benefitting both travelers and travel brands. Not only can AI help produce higher-quality images to start with, but it also helps brands easily find and leverage high-quality, user-generated content (UGC) in their marketing campaigns and promotions. UGC can be powerful for brands for two reasons: it’s a third-party endorsement that comes from a consumer’s peers, and it gives brands much more content from which to choose — content they don’t have to shell out more advertising dollars to pay for.

AI helps create better images and improves content management

AI already has changed photography at the consumer level. The technology can, for instance, improve landscape photography, and Snapchat and Instagram users can enhance their photos with branded filters, which use image recognition technology that is powered by artificial intelligence.

And with a little help from Adobe Sensei, anyone can use this technology to transform a cringe-worthy selfie into a professional-looking, portrait-style photo. Adobe Sensei brings AI to image enhancement and selection, video editing, document management, and data analysis across all Adobe solutions. It uses machine learning and deep analytics to allow a person with a smartphone to change a photo’s perspective, add depth of field or a different background style to an image.

On the enterprise side, AI can help manage the tens of thousands of images you have by using enhanced photo management. This makes it much easier to sort through and curate a larger selection of visual content shared by your customers.

Jordan Kretchmer, founder of Livefyre and general manager of the product for Adobe, says content creators and brands are responsible for creating 10 times as much content as they did last year, but with the same amount of staff. Livefyre is part of Adobe Experience Manager and lets you find high-quality, user-generated content, categorize that content, and share it on your own site to engage audiences. Its machine-learning algorithms streamline the process of sorting through billions of social media posts every day so you can access the content you want to use.

“Adobe Experience Manager Livefyre can also track an image that was used in an email and performed really well for a certain audience segment, and then recommend that same image to the social media manager,” Jordan says.

And instead of a social media manager manually sorting through images one at a time, Livefyre can identify a photo’s content, style, and context, and automatically tag and organize an entire image library.

AI also can provide filters that determine the quality of a specific user’s content over time.

“There’s automated filtering that reduces the amount of content we show to a brand based on whether a user has posted offensive material in the past, or what we know is in the image or the text, or who that user is,” Jordan says. “We can filter out that content from what is fed to a marketer.”

Beyond Livefyre, that’s just a start of what AI can do when it comes to user content. AI-driven facial analysis technology can automatically sort and group photos based on facial landmarks, provide visual searches not based on language, and find faces in a crowd. AI even can affect what types of images are shared with the world in the first place by using image recognition technology to “learn” which kinds of images are most popular with a brand’s customers and predict the likely value of a photo.

AI curates images

One of the biggest advantages of AI is how much it drives marketing automation.

Livefyre, for example, can deliver UGC results to marketers based on very specific searches. You can query something as detailed as “attractive man, age 20-55, on the Golden Gate bridge.”

This type of AI-enhanced management can give T&H brands access to a large number of focused, high-quality, user-generated images for use on their websites or in social campaigns.

Such personalization also can help brands curate content for use in various data-driven marketing efforts, such as online campaigns or contests, or to locate users to serve as brand ambassadors. For example, most of the photo content on the Tourism Australia website is user-generated, Jordan says.

“They have different geolocation filters and a search set up on each of their destinations, like Ayers Rock and Sydney. Livefyre constantly pulls new content into folders for each location, and then they take the UGC, get the rights to it, get the original image, and use it as a header image on their site.”

This allows the brand to highlight authentic travel experiences while greatly reducing the hours it normally would take to produce and manage this content.

As brands increasingly use AI to optimize collecting user-generated content, they need to remember there are legal considerations regarding using UGC, including when such content is used in promotions.

Jordan recommends that brands start a dialog with the content creator.

“We’ve found that 80 percent of users who are asked if their content can be used for marketing say yes, 10 percent don’t respond, and 10 percent say no. You can do that and track the rights management. It also starts a dialog with your customers and makes them feel good.”

Let AI augment your efforts

But while AI enables marketers to better manage the influx of content they receive — and spur consumers to create more of it — experts say it’s unlikely the technology ever will be entirely responsible for producing creative content on its own.

John Bates, director of product management at Adobe, says he doesn’t see AI creating visual content out of nothing or replacing human creativity or ingenuity. Instead, he sees AI learning from all the past content used by a brand.

“AI can put parameters around that content and make suggestions and recommendations that nudge a designer or marketer toward a particular tweak in content, or toward a different image that might better drive toward the outcome you’re trying to achieve.”

He says it’s like testing a hypothesis before doing a live launch. “Rather than having to wait to put it in production, and then A/B test, we can give you predictions on a content’s effectiveness before it’s even live.”

John says he views AI not as artificial intelligence but as augmented intelligence. “I think artificial intelligence algorithms can free us from a lot of inefficiencies and operational overhead that exist within companies and for individuals, so we can focus more on innovating and creating.”

“I’m very bullish on the role AI can play in helping to augment our skill-set,” he adds. “It can increase our processing power as individuals, so we manage less and create more.”

Read more in our series on creating Destination Experiences or learn about Adobe’s solutions for Travel and Hospitality here.