For data-driven marketers, the 2010s were a decade filled with both promise and new advancements for both the marketer and the consumer. The digital revolution brought enormous changes to the digital marketing industry, but in many instances, the long-term effects of those changes only began to be felt in 2019, as the decade drew to a close.
On one hand, this most recent year brought numerous examples of industry growth and technological maturation. Marketing channels such as social e-commerce, voice, podcasting, and private messaging apps all continued to rise in popularity and effectiveness. Marketers found innovative new ways to leverage big data, Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing technologies to create efficiencies, deliver personalized experiences for consumers, and boost sales. And many of the technologies that will enable the digital marketing of the future—learning how to leverage data and AI to predict consumer intent and provide better experiences across new channels such as connected TV and IoT, to AR headsets and 5G-ready phones—will finally began to see more broad-based adoption.
On the other hand, data-driven marketers also spent much of the year learning how to adopt new technologies to enhance consumer experiences; and the consumers themselves have become more difficult and more expensive to reach across disparate platforms, creating data silos for marketers. All signs seem to indicate that these trends will escalate in the 2020s, unless marketers take an approach of leveraging omnichannel solutions. Over the long term, they’ll open the door to a future that will be all but unrecognizable to the marketers of today. In the decade to come, however, data-driven marketers can expect to see the following:
Zeta Global Predictions for the 2020s
Smart becomes ubiquitous. From smartphones to smart homes to smart cars, consumers will increasingly find themselves surrounded by connected devices. These devices will give marketers a new channel to engage consumers and create experiences, while also delivering an avalanche of new data on consumer habits and preferences.
Consumers in control. Consumers will finally be empowered to create marketing experiences for themselves that are more useful than annoying. Some of these increasingly informed consumers will begin to engage with marketing and advertisements for the purpose of “algorithm hacking,” getting more of what they want to see, as a means of taking back even more control of how, when and where advertisements are served to them.
Data gives marketers an edge. The proliferation of consumer data, and incredible scale and quality, will only continue to grow in 2020 as consumers fill their homes and lives with new devices. As marketers become more adept at leveraging this data, they’ll be able to act on predicting the consumers’ intent – shifting their attention away from ground-level marketing tactics and focusing more on the outcomes and audiences that matter.
All eyes on political marketing. The marketing industry is still reeling from the fallout of the data challenges surrounding the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Savvy marketers will be paying close attention to election marketing in 2020, and the methods used during the 2020campaign will have an enormous effect on how all other marketing is performed and regulated.
From data-driven companies to model-driven companies. In 2020, marketers will have to do more than simply look at Google Analytics and say “well, that did okay; I guess we’ll keep doing it.” As data becomes richer and the use of AI becomes more sophisticated, marketers will empowered and able to analyze their data in a way that helps them innovate and experiment with new ideas.
5G changes everything. The rollout of 5G network technology will change the world, and the marketing industry is no exception. Combined with the increasing pervasiveness of IoT devices, 5G networks will lead to an explosion in consumer data, providing marketers with more data on patterns of consumer behavior than ever before. This, along with the 5G network’s broadband speeds, will enable marketers to deliver richer, more personalized consumer experiences.
AR/immersive content will become more important than ever. With 5G technology on its way and consumer adoption of AR technology accelerating, marketers can expect AR and immersive experiences to become more important in 2020 than ever before. Brands who jump on this trend early will have a tremendous edge over the competition, creating experiences that will be like nothing consumers have seen before.
Connected TV takes over. With cord-cutting trends showing no sign of abating, CTV will continue to gain traction as a key consumer engagement point. Marketers will need to leverage increasingly sophisticated tactics to stay relevant—bringing personalization to the small screen. Consumers will no longer be forced to sit through commercials that have nothing to do with their lives or needs. Instead, they’ll be empowered to opt in to advertising that’s actually relevant for them, making TV advertising much more welcome and appreciated than ever before.
AI shakes up market research. Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize marketing and market research in particular. Work related to data analysis and campaign performance will become heavily automated, with tasks like statistical analysis, brand awareness tracking, data cleaning, and even survey design all poised to be taken over by AI. By the end of the 2020s. AI will make most pure analysis and research support roles all but obsolete, although humans will continue to lead the charge in more strategic and qualitative roles.
Questions around “the death of the cookie.” Major browsers announced big changes to the way they handle consumer data this year, leading to renewed questions surrounding “the death of the cookie.” This, in turn, has rekindled the industry’s interest in first-party data and other approaches to tracking consumer behavior. Expect this to be a major topic of conversation in 2019.