4 Forces Will Affect Marketing in 2019

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As they plan out their strategies for 2019, marketers will have to contend with disruptive automation, behavioral changes, regulatory pressures, and organizational shifts, research firm Gartner warns in a new report.

Of these automation is likely to be the most disruptive. The report notes that artificial intelligence has become essential in nearly every category of marketing technology and will continue to find its way into new areas. More specifically, by 2022, content creators will produce more than 30 percent of their digital content with the help of AI. Additionally, by 2023, autonomous marketing systems will issue 55 percent of multichannel marketing messages, resulting in a 25 percent increase in response rates, it states.

While automation in marketing is not new, it is “starting to creep into new areas,” says Charles Golvin, a research director and analyst at Gartner. Specifically, look for AI to be applied to behavioral data, audience profile data, and the like, he says.

Among the behavioral changes that can be expected, the report points to an increasing demand for conversational experiences with companies using voice and video technologies in particular. 

Such conversations are increasingly being initiated by consumers issuing voice commands to smartphones or home speaker systems like Amazon Echo or Google Home devices, but those conversational flows can come from text as well, according to Golvin. 

“From the marketer’s perspective, the trend is really about customers expecting to have a more human-like conversation with brands when they’re asking questions about products or engaging with customer service or other kinds of marketing-related activities,” he says. “It’s less about browsing a web page and reading a bunch of text; rather, it’s posing a question and getting an answer in the course of an overall dialogue.”

And while the use of voice is expected to increase, by 2023, Gartner predicts that consumers will watch 20 percent fewer video advertising minutes per day than they do today, forcing companies to adapt with short-form video ads.

Consumers’ attention will continue to be strained, and companies will need to adjust the length of their video ads accordingly, Golvin maintains. “It’s not news that consumers have more platforms and venues in which they consume media—whether it’s Netflix or Hulu or [even] Facebook Live—but as a result of that diffusion of customer attention, it’s harder to get customers to pay attention to ads,” he says.

As a result, companies can’t rely on 30- or 60-second ads to get their messages across. Shorter formats, like 15-second ads or even six-second ads, are becoming more prevalent, in both digital and broadcast settings. “Brands need to embrace the reality that the amount of attention that they can get from customers has diminished, and that these shorter ad formats are going to be critical if they want their ad dollars to do the work that they hope,” Golvin says.

When it comes to regulatory pressures, the report asserts that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in the middle of last year, was just the beginning of a global uptick in regulations related to customer information. By 2023, companies that implement user-level control of marketing data—like that mandated by GDPR—stand to reduce customer churn by 40 percent and increase lifetime value by 25 percent, Gartner predicts. 

“Some brands will continue to look at this as more of a burden, but others are going to recognize that being transparent, giving control, touting consumer-friendliness, and being a good steward of customer data allows them to deepen the relationships they have with their customers, win greater loyalty, and increase the overall lifetime value of the customers that they do hold,” Golvin states.

As for organizational shifts, the report notes that executive scrutiny of marketing and customer experience initiatives is increasing. By 2022, profitability is expected to replace customer experience as CMOs’ top strategic priority, resulting in investment in marketing-funded CX programs decreasing by at least 25 percent. Additionally, Gartner predicts that by 2023, 60 percent of CMOs will reduce their marketing analytics departments by 50 percent due to a failure to reach goals.

“There is strong pressure on marketing organizations from CEOs to demonstrate the value of their investments,” Golvin says.

He also argues, though, that marketing leaders haven’t necessarily put in place the metrics they need to demonstrate to CEOs and boards that those investments truly are paying off, a major factor in why their budgets could be cut.

This could have a profound impact on the analytics teams that many companies have brought on board, and with good reason. “Many of those skilled analysts and individuals that are coming into these roles are not being well-utilized; they’re still required to do mundane tasks [like] data cleansing and low-level data activities that don’t deliver on the promise of the power of data that marketing teams are looking for,” Golvin says. “There’s going to be a bust that will follow this boom in hiring of the data and analytics teams, and that bust is going to lead to layoffs and reductions in the size of data and analytics teams.” 

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