• October 28, 2019
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Four Tech Trends That Will Transform Marketing Ecosystems

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Artificial intelligence and real-time intelligence are just two of the technological innovations at the “peak of inflated expectations” in digital marketing and advertising, according to research firm Gartner.

Among the 28 technologies represented in this year’s “Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising” report, four technologies are likely to transform how marketers run their technology ecosystems and, ultimately, deliver customer experiences.

“Marketers today must strike the right balance between delivering meaningful customer experiences that differentiate their brands and focusing on providing real value to the business,” Mike McGuire, a vice president and analyst in Gartner’s marketing practice, said in a statement. “Event-triggered and real-time marketing will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years. However, before marketers can realize the benefits of these technologies, they must first become proficient in predictive analytics and delivering personalized communications.”

These four technologies will have the greatest impact on how marketers run their technology ecosystems:

  1. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs): Marketers’ expectations for CDPs remain high, but use of the technology differs from the advertised capabilities. Half of enterprise marketers surveyed by Gartner who have deployed a CDP identify it as their CRM system, which indicates a misperception of its purpose and unique differentiators.

Part of the problem, according to the research, is mounting confusion about the overlap with similar technologies. Attempts to differentiate based on auxiliary features—such as customer journey design and optimization, rules-based attribution, final-mile campaign execution, and website personalization—highlight redundancy with other, more mature marketing technologies.

  1. AI for Marketing: In its two years on the Hype Cycle, AI for marketing has quickly risen to the “peak of inflated expectations.” And Gartner doesn’t expect the hype around this technology to fade anytime soon, particularly as AI continues to be the buzzword to describe a host of features that augment marketing tasks, from automated content tagging to real-time personalization.
  2. Blockchain: Blockchain holds tremendous promise for marketers, but significant challenges with scalability, performance, and adoption must be overcome before it can really alter the status quo, according to the report. Gartner analysts noted that dozens of companies have launched experimental blockchain platforms for advertising, but none have been able to demonstrate ongoing viability.

Despite the skepticism, though, Gartner does expect blochchain to continue gaining momentum, with technology companies like IBM, Comcast, and Amazon working hard to advance it. Disruptive challengers from outside the industry are also adding urgency.

  1. Real-Time Marketing: Advances in technology are creating an environment where always-on marketing is being quickly replaced by on-demand marketing, according to the report. Search technologies and social media make it easy to share, compare, and rate experiences while they are happening. Ignoring the real-time nature of customer behavior and expectations leads to lost opportunities or, worse, full-scale media crises, it said.

To date, most real-time marketing use cases focus on demand generation, advertising, promotion, sales, and service. Early successes have seen companies in the travel-and-hospitality, financial services, and insurance sectors combining behavioral analytics and marketing automation to serve up the right offer or message at the right time based on specific customer behaviors.

However, many multichannel marketers still struggle for relevance in core customer engagement moments and lack a clear business case for real-time engagement. Gartner’s 2019 Multichannel Marketing Survey showed that when designing event-triggered marketing, less than half of respondents (44 percent) use predictive modeling or rigorous testing to determine if a real-time response is warranted. To close the gap, marketers must look to revamp processes and make greater use of marketing technologies for customer data gathering, analysis, and activation.

Beyond these four technologies, Gartner points to several others, such as conversational marketing and multitouch attribution, as having high impact and strong momentum, and urges companies to keep a close eye on them as well. 

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