Robot Marketing: A Scary Glimpse of the Future?

Robot Marketing: A Scary Glimpse of the Future?

It’s been said that sales is one of the oldest professions, and it is. We are all in the business of selling; we all sell every day. Whether you are selling your loved ones on the idea of a new trip, or selling your boss on the idea of a new raise, or selling a customer a product or service, you are a sales-person.


Selling is such a strong part of human society that we tend to forget that we are doing it.


And of course, how could selling be possible without marketing? If selling is the process by which you convince someone to make a commitment, then marketing is the process by which you generate a queue of people waiting to talk to you about that same commitment.

There are far smarter people than me who claim that marketing is dead, and that there are all sorts of better ways to get people to talk to you. I’m not one of those people, and that’s not what this post is about.

It’s about a future in which one of the most dreaded forms of marketing—telemarketing—becomes automated and conducted by technology, rather than humans.


Does artificially intelligent telemarketing sound far-fetched? Think again, my friends.

How many advertisements have we all seen where a person speaks to his / her smartphone looking for directions or answers?

If these little devices can contain a computer algorithm smart enough to understand your requests, why can’t a bigger computer contain a bigger algorithm smart enough to make you an offer?

Until recently, that may have been a hypothetical question, but “robot telemarketing” is here today. Time Magazine has a pretty interesting article on the robot telemarketer Samantha West.  Be sure to listen to the audio clips so you can hear what Samantha sounds like.

Samantha is no flash in the pan, and this story has been making the rounds. From as far away as the UK  to as close as the Atlantic (the publication, not the ocean), Samantha West is becoming pretty famous.

Now in full disclosure, the consensus is not that Samantha West is a computer algorithm of artificially intelligent system, but a collection of recordings controlled by a real human being.

The real story here is not who or what Samantha West is, but how and when technology will allow marketers to continue to lower the costs and create new ways of talking to people.

Personally, I don’t much care for a world where the cost of a telemarketing call is around the same as the cost of an email; I have enough written SPAM in my in-box, and I don’t need verbal SPAM in my voice mail, but it’s an open question as to what the future of marketing might look like.

Like what you read? Feel free to subscribe to my Lateral Thinking Newsletter. I try to blog once a week, and my entries are delivered once a month to your inbox. Registration is free, and I will never share your email address. You can register here.