Welcome to 2019.

McDonald’s has purchased the Israeli AI company, Dynamic Yield, in a move that will push the company into the future. The startup technology will be used in McDonald’s virtual menu boards around the world starting as early as this summer. Artificial Intelligence is becoming increasingly common in commerce as it uses data to suggest products to consumers in real time.

As McDonalds migrates into digital menu boards in its drive-thru’s it becomes increasingly important to advertise the right products at the right time. An algorithm takes the work out of that. Dynamic Yield will be able to configure things like weather, trending products and localized demographic information to be able to determine which products land on the front of the menu at certain hours of the day.

Dynamic Yield Purchase

Its equal parts unexpected and unsurprising that a fast-food chain as big as McDonald’s would want to invest in AI. Purchasing Dynamic Yield pushes the company further into the future as it allows for more personalized consumer experiences. Menus in England will display different products than in California. They’ll do this simply because of differences in product popularity, time of day, and traffic patterns.

The purchase of the AI software is rumored to have cost McDonald’s around $300 million. This purchase, while insignificant for McDonald’s, will play a major role in generating more income for the company in the future. McDonald’s has said that it plans to implement the software into the menu boards of at least 1,000 restaurants within the next three months.

Dynamic Yield will be able to determine which products appear on the McDonald’s menu board based on factors like traffic, trending items, time of day, weather, and location. But don’t worry, you’ll still be able to order breakfast all day.

What This Means

It’s not that Mcdonald’s use of AI in its menu items is particularly meaningful. A company as large as this was bound to invest in technologies that would only boost its sales dramatically. However, it does show a rapid change in the way technology is being integrated into various industries.

The casual use of something like AI—which has, up until now, only been associated with tech companies, gadgets, and social media algorithms—proves that its potential in advertising goes way beyond digital commerce. Food and beverage giants like McDonald’s and Starbucks’ integration into AI is just the start. This opens up the floodgates for other simple uses for AI in small businesses, making data more accessible.

The use of AI in menu boards goes far beyond a personalized menu. McDonald’s already sells dozens of burgers per second around the world. Now imagine what it will be able to do with instantaneous machine learning on consumer data in real time. The purchase of Dynamic Yield signals a major shift in how food and beverage giants will market to its consumers.

We’ve already seen companies like Pedialye pivot into the hangover cure market thanks to social media data, so it will be interesting to see what machine learning does for companies like McDonald’s.