Marketing for the human being and for the algorithm at the same time? The new challenge of content creation is called HX, “Human Experience”, and has just begun.

About a month ago, Matteo asked himself a really interesting question: do we write our contents for machines or for human beings? Then this question became an essay, to which I am happy to have given a small contribution. If you make content for digital marketing you should probably read this piece and let us know what you think. Are you an algorithm? That’s fine: we love to hear your opinion as well! ;-)

by M. Pogliani, R. Zanardelli — 2019.

The time has come. We have to put the user at the center again. Yes, again. Giorgio Soffiato said it well during the last B2B Day: we need to re-focus on people and in particular on a more human and “liquid” customer journey. And if have to destroy the funnel to do so, well, so let’s do this!

Do we need to re-discover a human-oriented approach? Are we willing to write from scratch our new objectives, strategy and all the steps toward the “intelligent customisation” (of content, too) that will enhance our buyer personas and make clustering meaningful? In short, are we rady for a Copernican revolution that extends and evolves the concept of user experience?

Customer, user, man, brand, machine. There’s more? I wanted the experience …

What happens when the clear distinction between product and service fades out? Think about Netflix: a hybrid between product and service, transforming the consumption of video content in manner, time and in space. How many different types of experiences provides Netflix? And which are defined by man and which by the recommendation algorithm? But above all: are we really sure to agree upon the definition of “experience”?

First, we are talking about experiences as Pine and Gilmore define them: memorable, aspirational, qualitative and but above all “transformative”. They transform parameters of consumer behaviours through machine nudging.

And if the socio-economic vision is useful, the mechanical one is even more interesting: think at the user experience as the sum of all the interactions over time and through all the available touchpoints. Easy, isn’t it? Of course this is how UX is stored in a database. However, this sum isn’t algebraic. What are the multipliers and exponents to be applied to the single elements of this magical vector to predict a true experience, a human one, the result of brain’s chemical reactions? But if we don’t know how to write a reliable model for the experience, how do we design the marketing strategy we need to succeed in this world?

Create content. Yes, but for whom?

It is no coincidence that those involved in content creation have been seduced for years by the concept of user experience as measured through analytics. Content tailored to the needs of users, readers or followers, to transform a UHM… into OK and preferably into WOW! Messages designed to catch attention and drive preferences towards a brand in the most ethical way possible… but -and let’s think to this question carefully- was the human being really the priority in creating content for the user? Or was it the algorithm?

Augmented and virtual reality, big data and artificial intelligence are available on the shelf also to optimise content for effectiveness at service platform level. Do you have a credit card? Well, you can increase the x-factor of conversion of your brand, but again the same question jumps back: what are you really designing? For whom?

An example above all: when we produce a blog post, don’t we think about how to make Google’s spider happy? Place content, define keywords, titles, H1 and H2. We are certainly not completely forgetting the user and the human being, but our creative brains are looking forward to seducing the filter machine. Same for social media: how many times do we shape a content to be rewarded by the Facebook algorithm?

Towards the Human Experience (HX).

But let’s now stop making questions… let’s try to give an answer.

As Cosimo Accoto says, technology is creating a new sensorium in which the human is no longer at the center. However, the human is in loop and we have to:

  • get anywhere he/she is (action 1) and
  • bring him/her back to the center (action 2)

Technology is a scale changer and the inevitable co-recipient of our message. It is our duty to keep our eyes on the human behind (or inside) the user.

Oh God, what have we done! Well, nothing so dramatic.

We already have more readers than we think and some of them have very little human but decisive characteristics, but we have to avoid a mistake: believing that the production of content can have the same economies of scale of the industrial production.

We will never be able to scale too much when crafting a human experience, we need to design for a reversed scale. The brand performs to its maximum potential when it changes the chemical reactions in the head of the human beings, before and after swiping the credit card, which cannot be standardised.

The brand is fed by both emotional and transactional experiences, and the Human Experience is a value we can add to our balance sheet only if we succeed at scale through little steps. Creating a Human Experience is like building a castle with LEGO(R) bricks, giving up to the idea of making it in one big injection-moulded piece.

The inevitable conclusion.

We feared losing sight of the “human” because it is easier to sell to the “user”. We were sucked into the vortex of conversion, but luckily we realized in time how the brand should learn to speak to the algorithm and to the man, together and in two different ways.

The funnel helped us grow like a punch in the face at fourth grade. Tomorrow is another day (cit.)


Matteo Pogliani is partner and digital strategist at Open-Box and for the international group Comunicatica. Expert in online communication, social media in particular, he has for years been a reference in influencer marketing. Author of “Influencer Marketing — Valorizza le relazioni e dai voce al tuo Brand”, the first book in Italy on the topic and “Professione Influencer — Crea il tuo personal branding comunica e monetizza la tua presenza online”. Lecturer and speaker, he writes about communication and digital marketing on many blogs and portals. He is the Founder of ONIM, the National Influencer Marketing Observatory.

Riccardo is Beretta’s Digital Business Development Manager. Graduated in Engineering, he has served in various marketing roles before focusing on business transformation and digital platforms since 2016. In the last decade, he has developed a personal interest in exploring the potential of computational privacy/trust towards a more effective and sustainable data driven society. With the aim of contributing to a wide and open conversation about MIT’s OPAL project, he published “The end of Personalinvasion” (2019) and “OPAL and Code-Contract: a model of responsible and efficient data ownership for citizens and business” (2018). He is a member of the advisory board of “Quota 8000 — Service Innovation Hub” at TEH Ambrosetti. Since 2000 he experiments with digital art as an independent researcher. Some of his projects have been acquired from the permanent ArtBase collection of — NY (2002) and exhibited at the Montreal Biennial of Contemporary Art (2004), as well as at Interface Monthly (London, 2016, by The Trampery and Barbican). In 2015, he released FAC3, one of the first artworks in the world to use artificial intelligence. He is married and father of two. Want to drop a line? → riccardo [d ot) zanardelli {at} gmail [ do t} com

Digital Platforms @ Beretta | PhD student in Statistics & Data Science @ AEM, UNIBS | Engineer | Only personal opinions here | Code is Law (cit.)