By the end of the decade, marketing and advertising are going to look very different from what they do today. Already social media, big data, AI, geolocation and a bunch of other tech advances have vastly changed the way marketing works. Those changes are set to get faster, spread more broadly, and merge with other technologies like VR and AR. Eventually, this tech will infiltrate almost every aspect of our lives in ways we expect as well as ways that are surprising, gratifying, and, in some cases, maybe a little creepy.
Digital marketing is just the beginning
Roughly 560 billion US dollars was spent globally on advertising last year. Around 204 billion of this, a little over a third, went to Facebook and Google. Considering the access these behemoths have to our data, it’s hardly surprising they are taking such a large chunk of the world’s advertising dollars.
The basis of a great marketing plan or campaign is accurate customer profiles. Effectively reach the people who match your ideal customer profiles and it’s hard not to see your sales grow.
The collation of our search queries, likes, dislikes, friends groups, professional groups, leads to some very telling data about us as individuals. Last year, the Scientific American ran an article explaining why the internet knows you better than your nearest and dearest. Accessing that data via a social media marketing campaign with Facebook, one of their subsidiaries, or by placing Google Ads in front of your ideal audience, seems to be a no-brainer. If you have the dollars and the know-how, it’s currently one of the best ways to feed your sales funnel, reach an ever-increasing audience, and grow the group of people who love your brand.
The increase of personalisation is here to stay. It’s likely to become more and more accurate too as artificial intelligence is used to make sense of the mountains of data we leave behind us with every interaction on the internet — even if that’s just idly surfing to stave off the boredom of lockdown.
However, digital marketing, Google Ad campaigns and Facebook data is just the budding of this personalisation. Geolocation technology has already melded with these masses of information. A walk down the street these days could reward you with pings from your smartphone as coupons for the items you were browsing last week appear from businesses in the area. Move a little further into the future when cash becomes digital currency, smartphones become AR spectacles, and AI manages most of our consumer needs like the weekly shop, and marketing will change form yet again.
Welcome to the third iteration of the web
The internet of things is growing and connecting fast. Already our fridge can make sure we never run out of milk or that our favourite coffee is always in stock. Soon, our fridge will be able to talk to our cupboard and they’ll compile the weekly shopping list. If your AI gets involved, she’ll be able to ensure special occasions such as Easter, a dinner party with friends, or Thanksgiving are looked after for you too.
Bring digital currencies into the mainstream and we may not even need to be involved in the purchasing process. Our smart appliances will set up smart contracts with blockchain tech that show us what’s been ordered, verify we have enough in our account to make the purchase (and any other expected expenses for the month) and we’ll just have to unpack the groceries once they are delivered. This is just one example of the third internet revolution.
Combine this with the growing number of sensors connected to the net, the machines and ‘things’ that are able to engage with each other to keep supply chains moving, and already the world looks like a different place.
Marketing teams are likely to change with this, a disembodied AI might one day become one of your colleagues, identifying connections in data that us humans don’t have the time or patience to search for. These insights will be used to spark ideas for new and innovative marketing campaigns that reach your ideal customers wherever they are and when they are most likely to engage with your brand.
When technology collides
Things get even more interesting when we start to consider how different technologies might impact each other. Personalisation will inevitably get ramped up to the extent that off the rack purchases may become a thing of the past. Manufacturing will get smaller, faster, and able to deliver personalised products with ease, thanks to 3D printing. You might even be able to print your own products at the shopping arcade or in your own home. Just order the blueprint.
Voice morphing technologies, geolocation, augmented reality, virtual reality, big data and, of course, AI is combining and creating new and amazing developments in almost every industry.
Marketing campaigns will become individualised too. Clever businesses will begin selling their products without you even realising they’re pitching their wares. You could find that it’s your best friends’ voice extolling the virtues of the latest exercise craze that has classes in your town. Or maybe your mum reminding you to find a new virtual doctor. How about your favourite celebrity inviting you to join them in some virtual retail therapy to refresh your wardrobe? You’d be able to browse with them and even check what the outfits look like on before your transfer your digital dollars. Much of this technology is already available with Deep Fakes and the AR technology like IKEA uses to show you their couches in your living room before you make your purchase. Marketing teams will innovate to bring these developments together in ways that delight potential customers and build connections with their brands.
Imagine a world where your AI assistant is with you wherever you go with smart specs. She sees what you do, notes where your gaze lingers and observes your preferences from food to fashion and more.
As our tech collides, it will create new opportunities and make old working practices and plans redundant. Our work colleagues will begin to include AI and robots. The marketing plans of today will change and morph. Product information and descriptions will matter a whole lot more. Products will be able to be sold wherever and whenever consumers are at their peak of interest. This will be tracked by our AI assistants and delivered by smart contracts with blockchain credentials. Something like a pair of shoes will let you know if they come in your size. Colour choices, materials and the entire supply chain that made them possible will be available to you at a glance through smart specs.
By the end of this decade, it’s highly possible you’ll have products recommended to you by your AI assistant in the voice, or even an AR hologram, of the few trusted people in your life. Those same products will be more efficient and have less environmental impact than those of today. They’ll also be a great match for the kind of things you love. Marketing campaigns will be built like choose-your-own-adventure novels and marketing teams will be smaller, more agile and incorporate computer intelligence with human ingenuity to engage not only with you but your personal AI assistant too.
*Thanks to the book ‘The Future Is Faster Than You Think’ — Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
Vic Womersley is a freelance writer who regularly writes on Medium about marketing, mental health & wellbeing, alcohol, and other topics that grab her interest. You can sign up for her monthly email to receive free links to her work or follow her on Medium to learn about the new things she’s learning about life, writing and freelancing. You’ll also find her on Facebook, Twitter and can see her client work online.