Blog post

The Emerging Marketing Technology Track

By Adam Sarner | October 08, 2013 | 2 Comments


Digital marketing leaders need to innovate faster and are under enormous pressure to source growth — choosing the right technology and implementing the right technique is critical. Smart marketers know they must diversify and see emerging digital marketing technology and approaches as their route to new products, markets and revenue sources.

Effective, lifecycle customer engagement and  the trend toward connecting real-time, decision-support based digital marketing to both online and off customer channels, are rapidly evolving. Yet, current mainstream digital marketing  technology and their processes are still not agile enough to meet customer demand. Enter Emerging Digital Marketing technology on the Digital Transit Map.

emerging tech graphic

Emerging digital marketing technologies cross many neighborhoods of Gartner’s Digital Marketing Transit Map. Here, the emerging tech line forms the map’s outer boundaries; its stations representing technology and disciplines that are truly “on the edge.” The track focuses on innovative technologies and techniques in early stages of maturity. Characteristics include first-generation technologies, pilots, startup providers or initial stages of commercialization. Market penetration for these areas is typically as low as 1% to 5%. For some, adoption will go viral.  Some will also be considered disposable: Approach adoption with a goal to extract value before planned obsolesce or aggregation. While some may reach mass adoption (over 15 million in the U.S.) in the next 8 to 12 months, some will take as long as 10 years, while others will remain niche, disappear, or evolve into something very different.

There is no sure thing here. Don’t look for a comfort zone either. Prepare for risks. However, there are several areas of emerging technology along the Digital Marketing Transit Map neighborhoods we think will be transformational and will open up new opportunities to connect the physical with the digital world. Among them:

  • New connections among channels (e.g. automatic content recognition and natural language questioning)
  • Amplified scale at reduced costs ( e.g. automatic content generation)
  • Digital extensions of physical investments (e.g. geofencing and microsensors and the “Internet of things”

Connecting the Physical and Digital Worlds

Digital is not only changing the way we communicate, interact and experience the world: it’s changing the nature of products and environments. It’s doing this by erasing limits. The customer experience is no longer bound by channels, print, or primetime spots on television; similarly, the physical world is no longer bound by retail shelf-space or manufacturing processes. As everything becomes connected, the physical world begins to inherit the qualities of the internet: infinite extensibility, universal addressability, and low-cost disruption. Every industry has been impacted, not just sectors like retail, publishing, music, home entertainment or banking. Now, insurance, healthcare, real estate, and the public sector will be subject to this disruption.

To achieve true differentiation in the digital world, brands must increasingly incorporate digital features and data collection mechanisms into physical products. For example, through technology and techniques in Nike+, the brand builds, monitors, shares, extends and orchestrates the actual experiences of athleticism beyond the product purchase. Retailers such as Tesco are extending shopping experiences into unfamiliar domains such as subway stations with virtual stores. Disney’s Magic Bands will for the first time, track guest behavior in minute detail and help shape their guest experiences before, during and after their visit. Marketers have access to shape not only brand impressions but connect to lifestyle experiences beyond products or stores.

In my published note, Travel the Emerging Technology Track in Gartner’s Digital Marketing Transit Map, I focus on 10 transformational technologies along the track that have the  greatest potential to help marketers and customers connect the physical and digital world.

The Gartner Blog Network provides an opportunity for Gartner analysts to test ideas and move research forward. Because the content posted by Gartner analysts on this site does not undergo our standard editorial review, all comments or opinions expressed hereunder are those of the individual contributors and do not represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management.

Comments are closed


  • Jennifer McGrath says:

    Adam – great to see this mapping of emerging technologies. It will be interesting to see how these technologies evolve, converge and communicate with each other to provide context from the customer journey vantage point. I believe there will need to be integration across these tools for the customer conversation to be interpreted correctly and to provide value for the customer and ultimately the customer-centric enterprise.

  • Great mapping, as always ! Interesting to see that emotion detection is on the map! We are working on that.