Guest Contribution by Scott Swanson, CEO, Aki Technologies
Marketers often feel as if they’re in a perpetual state of catch-up when it comes to testing, refining and scaling new technologies within their marketing mixes. And indeed, the past decade has witnessed a hurricane of sea changes in terms of both emerging channels and shifting consumer behaviors.
I wish I could tell you that everything was going to calm down next year and reach a state of homeostasis, but that wouldn’t be true. I do have some good news, however: In 2020, many of the technologies and trends we’ve been watching for nearly a decade are going to reach a state of maturity in which marketers can benefit long-term by implementing some now-known best practices.
Let’s look at a few areas where the stars are aligning for our industry:
The buzz will finally get out of the way of AI.
In recent years, the buzz around artificial intelligence has eclipsed its value. After all, it’s easy to toss “AI” into the product description, but it’s not as easy to define what truly distinguishes artificial intelligence from traditional computing.
In 2020, marketers will develop a clearer understanding of what AI can achieve and become better at applying it toward campaign objectives. They’re going to put a real focus on the technologies that learn and react to enable better results for their brands and better experiences for consumers.
Mobile-savvy marketers will seize their competitive advantage.
Mobile marketing had a steep learning curve. While many practitioners initially tried to approach it as a “desktop + location” scenario, mobile proved to be far more nuanced and challenging than that. It also proved trickier than other environments.
The good news is that many marketers have since adopted improved approaches to mobile marketing that bring personalization and empathy to the experience. And now, as we move into a hyper-connected reality, this approach to mobile will serve as a model for the evolution of traditional advertising. 2020 is going to be a year when those marketers that already “get” mobile will apply that savvy for a competitive advantage to bigger at-home screens, like TV, and even digital out of the home. Understanding who your customer is and what will speak to them in a given moment will prove invaluable for every medium.
Gen Z will finally kill the CTR.
The notorious ad “click-through” is quickly approaching its 30th birthday, which makes it older than the latest generation entering the workforce. And, if you’re to believe the characterization of Gen Z—according to McKinsey & Company, they are mobilized, in search of ways to improve the world and highly analytical—they’ll have little time for the old’ CTR. In 2020, we’ll see marketing’s newest practitioners help accelerate seasoned marketers’ moves toward key performance metrics (like foot traffic and sales) that come closer to the bottom line.
We’ll start working with less data—but of better quality.
Whether it’s consumer insights that drive overall strategy or in-the-moment signals that inform dynamic creative, there’s no question that the quality, accessibility, and versatility of data has changed the game for marketers. But amidst this truth, a common misconception has emerged—that, if data is valuable, then more data is more valuable.
In theory, especially for advocates of targeting and personalization, this makes sense. The problem is that “more data” isn’t a solution when the baseline data you’ve acquired isn’t delivering on its value promise. It’s kind of like buying a fleet of cars before you learn how to drive. They’re expensive, they clutter things up, and you can’t even put them to use until you know what you’re doing. In reality, if you find the right, high-quality vehicle that’s tailored to your individual needs, it’s all you really need.
In 2020 (and admittedly, this may be more of a hope than a prediction), more marketers will take a minimalist approach to data, prioritizing efficacy over volume in a way that delivers better experiences for consumers.
The industry will return to brand awareness.
This final prediction is less about catching up to technology and more about putting it in its proper place. These days, brands are homing in on the most valuable metrics for their businesses, running ad campaigns with multi-touch attribution and getting an increasingly clear view of website and store traffic—even sales. These KPIs are addictive; they look great in presentations and instill confidence in tactical campaign decisions. There is, however, a loss in this move toward precision marketing, and that loss is happening around brand awareness.
By placing too much emphasis on creative that drives immediate action and results, brands are missing the opportunity to develop more emotional and long-lasting bonds with consumers. In 2020, direct response campaigns will continue to thrive, but we’ll see a better balance of brand marketing for advertisers.
Scott Swanson is the CEO Co-Founder of Aki Technologies, a breakthrough marketing technology company that helps connect consumers to the products and services they love by identifying moments of higher relevancy and receptivity. Scott was co-founder and CEO of Mobile Theory which was acquired by Opera Software in 2012 just 2 years after founding and with no venture funding. After the acquisition, Scott was appointed President of Global Advertising and oversaw the period of the publicly-traded company’s highest revenue and growth, overseeing a 250-person global team with offices in New York, Los Angeles, London, Buenos Aires, Moscow, and Singapore. Scott has focused his career on the intersection of marketing creativity & technology innovation and is a regular contributor to various trade publications including AdWeek, Digiday, MediaPost, and AdAge.