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Until the end of 1900s, advertising was very different from what it is today. Initially, it was just about blocking a space in the local newspaper to print an ad for a product or services. Later came the mad men era when television took over and became an integral part of everyday life of a family. During that time the ad agencies pretty much controlled the brand communication. The channels were limited to print, radio, and television for any brand to market its product. Contrast that with what is available to us today, we have the internet, social media, virtual reality, augmented reality, wearables, drones, etc.
The marketing and advertising industries are going through a paradigm shift as technology progresses exponentially. It was not long ago when big data was the talk of the town. The challenge was in collecting and manipulating it. In the next three years, machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) will force us to deal with a large amount of data. The more people are going to use technology the more they will leave a footprint data, that will be available for marketers and advertisers to be leveraged for gaining deep insights.
As we inch towards 2020, these data will help marketers to display personalized ads to consumers on their mobile devices. It will be further aided by the fact that consumers of today, primarily millennials are more than willing to share their personal data voluntarily via social media like Twitter and Facebook. The interactions will have to be more humanized instead of bombarding them with irrelevant and untimely ads as we do today. This means that a consumer will only see relevant ads that they will be interested in. The real challenge will lie in fully integrating advertisements in a customer’s digital journey that they value. The current banner ads and sidebar GIFs will be eventually discontinued. The future will be all about discovering the customers at a personal and human level.
Another key aspect of this transition is the changing hands of power. Until recently, the advertising agencies controlled the mass media including television and print. In the next three years, it will be the brand where the responsibility for taking its content, marketing and brand awareness to the masses will lie. Meanwhile, agencies can no longer stay the same and offer just a specialized service. They will be required to become a full-service powerhouse with a solid background in technology and deep customer insight ingrained in their DNA. These ad agencies will be expected to provide technology-backed solutions that encourage customer participation with the brand by providing unique experiences.
Once this transition happens, we could see more and more brands moving their advertising in-house, adopt automation and apply it across social and digital media, make use of influencers to get the message across, and channel their focus on genuine user-created content. In other words, a specific user’s personal preferences, interests, and tastes will be targeted. Automatically, the brand that has the deepest understanding of its customers will come on top and will be able to create a strong brand presence for itself. Their solutions will come from their in-house making it proprietary providing a specific advantage to its brand.
We will see another change in how we define consumer insights in the year 2020. From knowing the customer journey and buying behaviour overall today, we will be able to map an individual’s thoughts and patterns of behaviour, and the insights will be much more individualized. We will dig deeper than just the demographic level to a more personal level. The researches done by consulting companies and brands will resonate this new progression. The exploration and application of AI will be more widespread. It will enable greater personalization of content and allow brands to adjust their marketing activities real-time. The focus of marketers and ad agencies will also change from sale-oriented decision making to offering value to gain long-term gains.
Breaking the silos of today
If you look at the way CMOs, marketers, and advertisers exist today then you will notice that they work in tandem. Even within the marketing team of a large company, silos exist making it difficult to align with each other and achieve desired results. One possible reason could be because of the isolation under which individuals under each function have progressed and evolved. For example, today’s major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and other social assets have evolved separately. The underlying technology may be similar but they serve a different purpose and varying expertise will be required to make an effective use of them. In other terms, the expertise on these platforms may have grown separately resulting in siloed practices and different teams within a brand or agency specializing in these platforms may work disparately.
By 2020, the CMOs will have to demonstrate a strong understanding of these different channels and break the silos existing today. They should be able to look at different advertising platforms and know how to leverage each one of them to their full potential. They will also expect the agencies to stop providing segmented and disjointed solutions and start acting like a powerhouse that offers tailored advertising solutions suited to the brand’s specific product in question. High degree of granular insights into prospective customers will be expected from them. Brands will also stop investing in generalized consumer studies based on loose segmentation and tilt towards cost-effective and nimble researches. They will strive to get a deeper understanding of the ever-evolving consumer behaviour and by doing so, they gain a strategic position to respond and adapt quickly to consumer taste, attitude, and behaviour.
Value vs. sales
If you look at the advertisements that you see on our mobile devices today then you will notice that your shopping and purchasing searches on the internet are tracked and accordingly targeted with related ads. Your activities on the social media, payment, searches, etc. are used to push special discounts and sale offers. This is done hoping that the customer will make his or her purchasing decision and side with the brand. The focus is not on providing a unique brand experience or extend some kind of value but simply driving sales. By 2020, this will change and the brands and advertisers will have to find ways to integrate a brand’s marketing activities with customer behaviour by promoting a symbiotic relationship.
Brand activity-related communities and promotion partnerships will drive brand advocacy by consumers once it is adopted by advertisers and brands. Consumers will also have a higher say in the pricing model and shopping experience with a brand. Platforms that allow consumers to get involved with the brand and promote self-expression will be part of the execution plan by advertising agencies.
In the next three years, we will also witness higher pressure on creating quality content and the speed with which it will be required. Greater emphasis will be given on the transparency of a brand. Communication will flow in both directions. Algorithm-driven technology and persuasive content will be the focus of marketing and advertising in 2020. Content distribution will be an important area for marketers and advertisers where they will be more inclined in persuading the customers to share their content then pushing it.
In the near future, traditional distribution media will play a lesser role as digital agencies will be required to co-own brand promise and ensure it effectively trickles down to consumers. By 2020, the amount of money spent by a brand and advertiser will be of lesser significance, instead, their focus will be on the quality of their ideas backed by data.