Following the launch of The Drum’s new bot created by OgilvyOne, we caught up with the bot's creator and OgilvyOne UK's Experience Planning Partner, James Whatley to explore the world of bots.

Tell us a bit about your latest build. What's useful about The Drum bot?

It was great to partner with our friends at The Drum to get this project live. The Drum Bot is a content delivery service that brings you the latest content from The Drum at the time that you ask for it. It can deliver content from 7am in the morning to 11pm at night. You just have to tell it when you want content delivered and it will deliver it to you, with a selection of occasional gifs.

So, can anyone build a bot?

Yes. Anyone can build a bot with the free tools that are available at the moment. I'd recommend that anyone who is interested in building bots go away and have a play with building a very basic one so you can understand the limitations and possibilities. The strength that Ogilvy brings to the table when building bots is that, yes, while anyone can build a bot, having a rich history in copywriting as well as a progressive stance on data management, UX and creativity means we're perfectly placed to build bots for clients into the future.

Why have bots become so popular all of a sudden?

Bots are a response to consumers spending more and more time in messenger apps. You need to fish where the fish are - soon consumers will want to speak to brands in the space where they're spending more and more time. So, given that there are millions and billions of people talking in messenger apps, we can't have that equivalent of people sat in call centres responding. You need a first responder to answer the low hanging fruit and that's where bots can lend a hand, which is why bots are interesting at the moment.

But, if you look into the future, the machine elements, the AI elements, the personalisation and CRM possibilities of bots all become very interesting for brands.

How do you think the use of bots has impacted the overall customer experience?

I don't think about bots as bots anymore - I think about bots as branded services in Facebook Messenger. If customers are trying to understand or find a piece of information about a brand in Facebook Messenger, then they should be able to do that.

Thinking about the possibilities for marketers and brands, what most excites you about the use of bots and AI?

Personalisation, CRM and providing real utility to consumers are just some of the exciting things about bots and AI. Combine these with creating beautiful useful services that people will return to and enjoy interacting with, that will learn from those interactions and then fundamentally become a better more nutritious bot experience – that’s a very exciting prospect.

What does the future of bots look like for you? Where will we see bots evolve to next?

The future of bots is that bots disappear and there's no such thing as bots anymore. You just have services that satisfy a need, in a platform where consumers live and breathe. It’s important to remember that bots are just one interface; voice is another as is e-mail, SMS, mobile app and mobile web. I don’t know what the next interface will be, however I do know that the data that is queried will always need to be accessible. 


Find out more about bots and creative tech from The Drum x Ogilvy breakfast here.