The Pork Checkoff is focused on emerging technologies, including the use of digital marketing. National Pork Board CEO Bill Even outlines the efforts with artificial intelligence and its impact on the Pork Checkoff.
Bill Even, CEO, National Pork Board
Don Wick: 00:15 From the Pork Checkoff in Des Moines Iowa, it’s Pork Pod. Pork Pod, a look at the hot topics in today’s pork industry. The Pork Checkoff is working for you through various forms of research, promotion, and consumer information projects. I’m Don Wick speaking on behalf of the Pork Checkoff, and today our guest is Bill Even, the executive director of the National Pork Board. And Bill, it seems like we all are walking around with a smartphone in our hand and are all connected online. It seems like a 24 hours a day. Give me an idea. How does that change how we market pork today, from the Pork Checkoff standpoint?
Bill Even: 00:36 The Pork Checkoff back in July established a new position around emerging technology. We’ve got a director that manages that now and his full time job is really understanding, there’s this whole wave of things, whether it’s machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual-digital voice assistance and so forth and on and on, and on, even in gene editing, right? How is that going to impact the supply chain of pork? And I think I give a lot of credit to our board of directors of having the foresight to say, you know what? We got to skate where the puck’s going to be and it’s really in this artificial intelligence world.
Don Wick: 01:12 So I know you’ve had some meetings with folks, like at Google, and I’m sure other players. What have we learned and where does it take us?
Bill Even: 01:20 So I think an interesting statistic is when you think in the area of how do you talk to consumers, roughly 80 percent of all online digital marketing is now pushed through three platforms. It’s either Amazon, Google or Facebook. And so you fundamentally have to be in those spaces to ensure that your messages are reaching consumers. I think the other big thing that we’re watching and getting in front of is the whole rise of the in-home virtual assistant. So people are familiar with the Google Home device or Apple Siri or the Amazon Echo. Hey Alexa! You really step back and think about what’s occurring here. People are asking questions about how to cook their food, how to order food, what’s in their food. They’re asking that of these AI assistants that are sitting in their house and the pork industry needs to be part of that conversation, understand those algorithms so that we’re able to answer those questions when they get asked now digitally. The days of necessarily maybe going to your butcher and asking that question, now it’s Google. Hey Google, give me the answer.
Don Wick: 02:23 Are there ways to move to the front of the line, so to speak, so when they’re asking about what to cook tonight, that we’re going to be talking about pork tenderloin or chops or what have you?
Bill Even: 02:32 Well, there’s two ways to get to the front of the line. One is you can pay to get there. People are probably familiar when you search, there’s an ad that maybe will pop up first, so the Pork Board does that strategically where it makes sense, but probably more importantly, Don, is the fact that the Pork Checkoff’s understanding search engine optimization. Over a year ago, we completely rebuilt our website. We’ve got it very mobile friendly and we’re looking to optimize that. So fundamentally, if this stuff rises up in organic search, meaning that happens naturally, you don’t have to be spending money buying ad placement necessarily.
Don Wick: 03:02 So we’re kind of on the front side of this. Where do you see this all going?
Bill Even: 03:08 It is transformational. It is stunning what’s coming. There’s a lot of disruption coming in the retail grocery industry. You know, those are high volume, low margin businesses and it is completely disrupting grocery retail. And I spent some time here last week with some leading players in that space. There’s a lot of talk about will some of these traditional grocery stores simply go dark and it’ll be a warehouse and it’ll be automated robots that’ll go in and pick the food items and set that up for in-home delivery direct to your house. The stuff is, is real. It’s happening now.
Don Wick: 03:47 Bill Even from the National Pork Board. Thanks to you for listening to this edition of Pork Pod. For more information on this topic or the Pork Checkoff itself, visit pork.org.