What Data Says About 2020’s Marketing Predictions
For marketers, data now drives spending, targeting, and even content, yet we’re all guilty of ignoring the data when it comes to trends. In a recent report, Gartner delivered some bold marketing predictions that are meant to stir the pot. We reviewed the research out there and put together some bold marketing predictions of our own.
It’s true the cookie is crumbling and that privacy laws are rolling out state by state and country by country. It’s also true that even though 86% of marketers in our research with Relevancy group use some form of personalization today, there’s opportunity ahead of them. And some new trends, like marketing with social influencers, have a dark underbelly, while fun new AI tactics like emotion detection are subject to the very same issues as ... personalization. Let’s apply some data to get a clearer picture.
Dissing Personalization With Abandon
The headline of the Gartner report asserts that 80% of brands who try personalization will abandon the tactic entirely by 2025 due to lack of ROI and issues with data that will thwart their efforts. We think that’s so unlikely, we’re predicting nearly the opposite: use of personalization will increase by 50% in 2020. After all, WBR and Monetate found earlier this year that 93% of brands with advanced personalization strategies saw increases in revenue last year. Our own research with Relevancy Group shows the same thing. Advanced personalization is a game changer.
There are likely to be some marketers who don’t see much value in personalization if they stick to basic email subject line and first name level tactics. Consumers can see right through it, and it’s not going to drive a better customer experience. These same marketers may also determine that approaching privacy laws are enough to deter them from advancing their efforts. However, that hardly equates to 80% of all marketers. Programmatic advertising is a good proxy for personalization. Programmatic had highs and lows at it entered the market, but everyone saw the obvious value in increasing scale and efficiency through automation. Barely 10 years old, 4 out of every 5 impressions online now transact programmatically.
Personalization has clear value. Customers get more accurate communications from companies and companies earn more and become more efficient. In this current phase, the scare is privacy regulation. But, marketers could more accurately conclude that stricter privacy laws will help with personalization ROI by forcing brands to target using higher quality data, which will simply prove personalization’s value even more.
The Same Data Rules Apply to All AI Marketing Efforts
Gartner analysts predict the demise of personalization due to data limitations, but write that artificial intelligence emotion detection will influence more than half of ads online. It is likely that AI will continue to grow, but that requires marketers to use data, and they will, despite privacy laws. We actually agree with an earlier Gartner report. Just one year ago, research firm shared that 37 percent of all companies have implemented AI in some way, from healthcare chatbots to financial analysis in the back office. In fact, 37% of marketers personalize ads using AI already. We predict marketers will find more ways to use AI by integrating it with smart data, the easy-to-access data that marketers can use for scalable, real-time marketing right now. And we predict that 80% of marketers will move to higher smart data use next year, too.
Data collection of emotions may be more sensitive than anything brands collect online today such as location and purchase data. This inference technology has the opportunity to go terribly awry. Imagine a woman shopping for a new outfit to get her mind off difficult breakup, only for the sales person to get information from an AI mirror that she is feeling negative and assumes she’s not planning to purchase. But, imagine instead the same woman, still interested in some retail therapy, checks in with her digital shopping assistant and finds a deal on a killer outfit that she believes will make her ex regret his choice. AI will have a place, when done carefully and with permission. The same as on all channels.
New Flavor, Same Recipe
Digital marketers have a habit of thinking they have invented tactics and best practices that have been proven out for decades or even centuries offline. Working with influencers to sell products is one of them. Joan Crawford was an “influencer” hired by Camel cigarettes in the 1950’s. Now, brands are embracing a broader definition of influencers in order to scale their message across social platforms like Instagram. Gartner’s assertion that influencer spending will go down so dramatically doesn’t fit with the massive global growth potential, similar to so many other tactics.
Again, there is no new trend that doesn’t have its share of ups and downs. Google constantly upgrades its algorithm in part because people have been trying to game their search results since the day they opened up shop. That hasn’t stopped the company from growing. Instagram is a fantastic social platform for brands, and as they test new opportunities, they’ll find their limits with people who fudge the numbers or act inappropriately. It isn’t any different than Nike managing different athletic talent partnerships during sensitive times, it just uses more data, which actually makes it more measurable.
The new year is a great time to take a look at what’s working and make some bets on some new tactics. The best way to do that is to look at the data that’s available about what’s working, why and how. There’s always a more detailed picture than what the headlines say, and that goes for personalization, AI and influencer trends, which all have the potential to succeed or fail based on how they’re implemented. Marketers need to look at what tactics work for their needs, and be realistic about what investments they need to make to do it right. That doesn’t require any predictions at all, just good common sense.