Hot bot: Why Massively is going big on automated tech
Toronto-based tech startup Massively has launched a new online platform that will allow businesses to build (and tailor) their own bot, capitalizing on a trend sweeping through the marketing and entertainment businesses.
A chat bot is an automated software application that can be programmed to appear on social media or other communication channels as an “individual,” often tasked with the purpose of responding to consumer questions or engaging with fans of a brand or piece of IP.
The interest in using bots as a point of connection between a brand and its consumers has been growing as advertising dollars, consumption patterns and user behaviour come together in an increasingly digital-first world. Most recently Toronto-based sports app TheScore launched a bot to share score highlights and updates based on app-users stated preferences.
Massively has previously worked with Toronto-based DHX Media for several executions. In December last year, the media company’s kids programming for Family Channel’s F2N programming block worked with Massively on a chat-based promotion on Kik’s messaging app to build interest in the then-upcoming premiere of Degrassi: Next Class. Using the chat bot, fans of Degrassi could take a personality quiz based on the series and get a sneak peek at the show’s plot points and characters.
Massively has also just developed a bot-fuelled campaign for Paramount Pictures’ release of the latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in which the much-loved orange-bandanna-wearing Michael Angelo’s bot version (Mikey.Partydude, if you will) chats up a storm with TMNT fans.
Massively has been developing AR experiences for clients since late 2014 when it began launching bots into the messaging world. The new platform aims to draw the attention of media and digital agencies, with the goal of giving them the ability to easily add onto their media plan with a bot solution. “We feel the time is right for them. They haven’t missed the opportunity (Facebook’s 900 million-strong population is only now able to bot). We’re trying to educate agencies to be a resource to them, so they can take this to their clients and able to deliver on it for them,” said Massively president Russell Ward.
Most of the executions that Massively has developed have been executed through its managed services division and have been primarily in partnership with red-hot Canadian tech startup Kik. Users can find the bots through two primary methods on Kik: through its own bot shop or through Kik Points, a platform through which clients offer users a chance to earn Kik points through advertising activity like chatting with a bot. There are also promoted chats and Kik Codes, a QR-code based discovery system that enables users to scan content (or tweet a code) to open up a conversation with a bot.
With Facebook Messenger now open for bot-business, Massively has a number of demo bots in play with clients that, Ward says, he can’t yet reveal.
The new open-source bot development platform configures differences in different platforms like Kik and Facebook Messenger, adapting the bot to suit the native environment of the chat. For instance Kik is more rich-media friendly than Facebook is for bots so Massively’s system automatically converts GIFs into still images. In addition to those two platforms bots can also be placed into Skype and Telegram’s messaging platforms.
Massively’s AI-development service is free but the company also offers Massively Managed Services, a service that helps clients develop a specific customized execution for campaigns.