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Top Trends That Will Shape The Marketing & Tech World

Application of AI in marketing is evolving at a massive pace and is going to make marketers realize the enormity of task at their hands

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As I sit down to write the predictions for the new year, the thought of how great 2016 was for marketing technology comes to my mind. From leading traditional businesses experimenting with Augmented and Virtual Reality to enhance their in-store shopping experiences to mobile apps becoming the centerpiece of every brand's marketing strategy, last year was truly a game changer. It was the year when digital teams got an equal or a higher priority than their off-line counterparts and mobile became a significant contributor to the business, even for the non-digitally run businesses.

With this in mind, I am extremely excited to share my thoughts on what to expect in the marketing and technology world in 2017.

Artificial Intelligence finally meets marketing
While AI and ML (Machine Learning) have been there for more than ten years now, this is the year it gets to come of age in the marketing world. Application of AI in marketing is evolving at a massive pace and is going to make marketers realize the enormity of task at their hands. Better prepared marketers would help their brands and themselves by tapping into this wave whereas others wouldn't know what hit them.

Last year digital marketers finally came to terms with all the possible channels where they could spend their media monies on. They took the fight for customer's eye balls from the web to the app stores. The job was already hard enough when they had to split monies across desktop web and mobile web versus the mobile apps. The user behavior was constantly changing making marketers unsure of their decisions. It is no surprise that most marketers would want to talk about attribution today because they honestly don't know how their media spends are translating into revenue and conversions. Customers were freely moving across channels and devices which made the job of marketers increasingly complex.

Believe me, in 2017, this will become even more complex, when the likes of Google Assistant, SIRI and Facebook Messenger behave like the new age app stores. These are the arenas where brands will have to compete again to fight for customer's attention. AI driven bots that would want to anticipate customer's next requirement, would start becoming mainstream from this year onwards and expect more and more brand budgets and resources allocated towards them. As devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo (which retails around Rs 7500 or $110 in India) starts gaining higher adoption among urban consumers, it would further increase the number of channels across which a brand must be present and consistently provide a great customer experience. This brings me to my second prediction.

Omnichannel becoming table stakes
Gone are the days when business reporting for product adoption and user behavior is done in silos. Customers would traverse even more number of channels this year than in the past. The first impact of this is the growing need for brands to understand their customers completely. This would require combining multiple sources of data from both the digital as well as off-line interactions in a single platform to derive a holistic customer view. Brands which are unable to completely understand their customers will have inefficient marketing strategy. Getting a complete picture of customer across all touch points would become table stakes in 2017. Expect a lot of enterprises investing in platforms which will enable them arrive at a holistic understanding of customer profile across all channels, and not only across off-line data sources, as was the case in the past.

The second impact would be the need of a true Omni-channel platform which could execute across marketing channels, thereby leading the marketers to focus on brand strategy, rather than operations. A platform like this would be fully effective if it gets access to the complete profile of the user.

Predictive analytics techniques like lead scoring, propensity to buy etc. would give way to application of predictive analytics in customer service domain. Predicting what a customer would need in her journey, will become the differential factor in driving a great customer experience

The third impact of this change would result in the further consolidation in the martech space. Point products solving for point issues would find fewer takers across leading businesses and hence it would become increasingly difficult to continue running them. A lot of these innovative point product companies would want to align themselves with the larger platform players, solving for multiple marketing pain points, through acquisition.

Increasing importance of UGC to Brands
While paid social ads have been there for quite a few years and are great in driving the direct response for businesses like ecommerce, 2017 will be the year where earned and owned social will also feature as an important part of marketer's consideration set. User generated content is ruling the roost right now. Many of the Instagram accounts, having few million followers, are up for grabs to the highest bidders. Fashion and beauty, as well as Travel and hospitality brands have really leveraged the influencer marketing channel over last year and now other business verticals will take notice. Social communities of influencers are becoming the key channel for marketers to keep their brand relevant among millennials.

Video and Mobile continue to grow
With the increase in video publishers, and investment in video portals by both media and telecom companies, programmatic video advertising is set to grow. This year, it will become an important part of the media plan as it is making video advertising cheaper. Many marketers whose budgets never allowed them to look at TV or YouTube till now, will now be able to run online video ads at a fraction of a price. They will be able to evaluate its performance similar to a channel like search which will bridge the gap in branding and direct response metrics.

Mobile usage on apps and web, will continue to grow, as was the case last year. Mobile was responsible for bringing in traffic to brand's web and app properties and from this year onwards, mobile will also become a channel responsible for transactions. Mobile experiences for brands would improve in line with their desktop experiences.

Demonetisation accelerating the change in India

I don't remember doing any cash transaction in the last couple of months since demonetisation in November 2016. The impact of this move is leading to a higher adoption of digital currency and payment systems and is helping take these technologies from urban niches to the masses. Brands are also noticing the massive change this is leading to in the consumer behavior and are adapting to the new realities by investing in platforms to capture digital interactions to integrating with digital payment systems. As more and more users transact online, the need for brands to reach and market to them through online channels is growing, thereby fueling innovations in marketing technology.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Varun Kapoor

Varun is a management consultant specializing in digital strategy and marketing technologies. He currently works with enterprises in the financial services, media, travel & hospitality and retail domains, on communicating the business and technology value of Adobe Marketing Cloud towards their digital transformation goals.

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