According to the 2017 Gartner CMO Strategy Survey, customer experience, customer retention and growth will be the most vital strategies to support marketing outcomes over the next 18 months. As a result, marketers are exploring technologies that can unify and augment customer data to engage with audiences across myriad touchpoints in an informed and consistent manner. Key take-aways from the Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2017 enable marketers to prioritize marketing technology investments that support data-enriched customer experiences.
“Marketers pursuing tailored, real-time engagement require a strong, flexible data foundation that increasingly involves transformative applications of artificial intelligence (AI),” says Bryan Yeager, research director, Gartner for Marketers.
No. 1: Transformational technologies require exploration — and patience
Real-time marketing, AI for marketing and customer journey analytics will bring more power and adaptability to help marketers effectively engage with prospects and customers. Although these three technologies are transformative and still in the Innovation Trigger phase, they will take 10 or more years to mature. The next decade will require a sense of exploration and experimentation.
- Real-time marketing. Rethink how you’re organized. Building an organization with the agility to respond faster to change than competitors is more practical than trying to predict what’s ahead.
- AI for marketing. Start learning about AI now and engage directly with your vendors to understand the role AI currently plays.
- Customer journey analytics. Start with customer identification and journey mapping across only two to three channels where data is both available and valuable.
No. 2: AI invades marketing
AI is a thread weaving its way through the entire marketing and advertising technology landscape. AI for marketing comprises systems that change behaviors without being explicitly programmed based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations, and includes enabling technologies such as machine learning, deep learning and natural-language processing.
AI-enabled technologies and techniques have the potential to transform the practice of marketing as we know it. AI for marketing is in the Innovation Trigger phase, and vendors liberally promote “intelligent” capabilities within their offerings with varying degrees of precision and truth. Exercise diligence in vetting claims and recognize AI’s transformational opportunity over the next decade.
- AI for marketing. Be wary of lofty claims of AI-powered marketing. Establish test criteria and conduct pilots and proofs of concept to vet such assertions.
No. 3: Marketers take control of data to enhance experiences
Customer data platforms (CDPs) are near the Peak of Inflated Expectations and reflect marketers’ desire to use first-party data across customer experiences and the struggle to identify and leverage the most useful data to deliver compelling one-to-one engagements.In parallel, hype surrounding other data-centric marketing solutions abates. Data management platforms are in the Trough of Disillusionment as marketers come to terms with integration and adoption challenges.
- CDPs: Treat this technology investment as a system of innovation because it is still nascent, and expect convergence with adjacent categories.
- Data management platforms: Look beyond third-party data toward better application of first-party data around ad and content targeting.
No. 4: Martech and adtech — an open relationship
The convergence of marketing and advertising technology is settling into something that looks less like a marriage and more like an open relationship. However, key connection points still exist between the two realms around identity and analytics. Nearing the Peak of Inflated Expectations, cross-device identification has the potential to address advertisers’ and marketers’ concerns about measuring mobile channels and attributing ad impressions. Adoption of account-based marketing increased dramatically due to its ability to reach both net-new and existing customers at scale, placing the technology at the Peak of Inflated Expectations.
- Cross-device identification: Marketing teams should investigate cross-device identification solutions to provide a more complete understanding of customers and prospects.
- Account-based marketing (ABM): Ensure that sales, marketing and other executive leaders are aligned and fully committed to the ABM program before evaluating the solution; this helps with engagement and reporting
No. 5: Brand safety a top digital advertising priority
Ensuring brand safety, meeting viewability guidelines and preventing fraud are at the forefront of anxieties among major digital advertising spenders. While ad verification is a new addition to the Hype Cycle, both ad blocking and ad verification are entering the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase. These issues motivate marketers to re-examine and rebalance their value exchange with audiences.
- Ad blocking: Work with publishers on native solutions that complement content experiences rather than simply interrupting them.
- Ad verification: Identify and filter out publishers with low advertising standards and report only on verified impressions.