The Rise of Bot-Driven Buyers: Brand Building in the Age of AI

Adam Buhler & Elizabeth Cagen & Melissa Harden
Published April 4, 2024

In an era where AI is taking center stage, marketers are witnessing their roles rapidly evolving shaped by technology that’s disrupting consumer-business interactions. Imagine you’re planning a family vacation, which often requires hours of research, where AI processes a prompt to confirm all travel reservations, process payment, and curate experiences unique to your family's preferences. With this technology known as Agentic AI – and the related field of Automated Agent Optimization (AAO) – the data-informed, future commerce experience has arrived.

The rise of AAO signals a paradigm shift, where machines play a pivotal role in purchase decision-making processes. Brands who aren’t currently leveraging AI agents place themselves at a future disadvantage, as some competitors already use AI to drive brand preferences among these new bot-driven buyers.

But it's not too late. Smart brands can stay ahead of this evolution by focusing on impactful areas.

Lean Into Search and SEO Optimization

Consumers already rely on AI within search daily, but it’s been so seamless that they haven’t noticed that search behaviors have shifted beyond Google to platforms like Amazon, TikTok, and Reddit. Marketers must extend beyond traditional website placement, feeding information into various platforms for multiple AI agents to ingest, interact, and perform tasks with it. With the potential for bots to make purchasing decisions, supplying rich information becomes crucial. Brands should tap into structured data and feeds to aid AI comprehension of content, its connections, and relevance to other data sets.

Integrate AI and Media Strategy

AI's presence in media buying isn’t new, but its impact on the consumer experience requires marketers to adapt. In the realm of search, the results page has become the primary source of answers, reducing the necessity for consumers to click through. Platforms like Meta and DSPs continually advance AI-driven tactics, including precise ad personalization, optimized ad placements, real-time bidding, and dynamic ad content tailored to individual users. Yet, marketers recognize that AI's intelligence is contingent on human guidance. A human-led approach, incorporating business goals into AI activations, becomes imperative. AI enhances our strength and speed, enabling teams to concentrate on strategic media buying, shifting the focus from execution.

Build Preferences in AI

To drive preference among our AI-driven consumers, brands must integrate AI across networked platforms. Leveraging AI-personalized tools, such as bots or virtual assistants, on proprietary platforms allows tailored information and product suggestions aligned with individual preferences.  Real-time trend spotting and marketplace analysis, facilitated by AI assistance, allow brands to optimize content and media spend dynamically. To further cement their place in the AI consideration process, brands can audit how AI agents reference their products and messaging. This proactive approach ensures that as autonomous agents increasingly influence purchasing decisions, brands remain at the forefront of consumer consideration.

Underpinned Emphasis on Inclusive AI

We would be remiss not to address the pitfalls of AI bias and misinformation, as brands and marketers must take an active role in environmental, organizational, and systemic AI governance. For example, marketers can consider systemic solutions like content provenance to certify the source and history of media content. The solutions should always align with brand values and, to mitigate bias, undergo quarterly audits of AI models to ensure the systems are inclusive by design, empowering everyone and engaging diverse experiences.

Also, educate your customers along the journey—provide transparent communications and education initiatives to empower customers with the knowledge needed to understand AI-agent recommendations. As brands become increasingly more crucial players—and often more reliable sources—for consumers, those who prioritize AI governance and transparency will thrive once the generative AI craze settles and becomes mainstream.

Your Networked Digitas Solution:

Featured solution: Unicorn Labs x  Digitas Search Intelligence Engine. 

Our Digitas Labs team is a collective of strategists, creative technologists and makers who build new worlds in emerging platforms, and guide brands on how to integrate the latest technologies, like AI, into their overarching Brand Strategy.

Search Intelligence Engine leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence to deliver improved search engine marketing performance. The tool takes into account various aspects such as consumer behavior, competitive landscape, and evolving algorithms to optimize search engine marketing strategies. It provides insights that can help businesses understand their audience better, identify opportunities for growth, and make informed decisions.

The Search Intelligence Engine is a part of Digitas' suite of Integrated Media solutions aimed at helping businesses thrive in the digital era. For more information or inquiries about Unicorn Labs or our Search Intelligence Engine, contact


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