Back to the Future: The Evolution of Marketing Over the Next 10 Years

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The marketing landscape faces constant change as new technologies, strategies and channels present themselves. Not only are horizons being broadened through new tools, but COVID-19 also spurred a digital stampede that has influenced everything from how jobs are done to how we see our favorite artists in concert. As new channels and mediums continue to become prevalent, they alter the marketing landscape, making it hard to pinpoint exactly where the industry may end up.

With endless possibilities on the horizon, marketers can flex their creative muscles by forecasting the future of their industry. Whether it is the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning, the evolution and use of consumer data, or how marketers can equip themselves for inclusivity in the metaverse, it is all subject to change within the ever-morphing industry. With that in mind, let’s take a peek at what the marketing industry may look like in the next 10 years.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

When it comes to the future of marketing, few (if any) technologies will be more important than artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). Adoption of these tools has risen in recent years as promises of new tech flood the media space and marketing professionals gain clarity on their use-cases and applications. Despite this, AI/ML technology still has a long way to go before it aligns with the hopes and expectations put forth from professionals in thought-leadership positions. Regardless of what marketers may be saying, the industry has not yet reached a point where AI/ML has intertwined itself seamlessly with a majority of marketers to create a streamlined process. As it stands now, a large gap remains between the conversations happening around tech in thought-leadership spaces and what marketers are actually utilizing in their day-to-day work.

Sure, the idea that everyday marketers and AI/ML technologies have harmoniously synced, creating a perfect marriage of man and machine sounds great, but it is just not the case right now. The fluff and praises being sung do not reflect the realities that most marketers experience, and the fact is that these conversations are essentially false promises unless marketers are working with a highly customizable version of a solution. By and large, today’s marketers aren’t using AI to get their jobs done – and they don’t need to.

So what does this mean for marketing over the next 10 years? Well, we can expect the technology to start delivering on the promises of today’s leaders. Widespread adoption and integration of AI/ML technologies will be woven into the capabilities of the everyday marketer. The “human” and “machine” elements will converge, creating a partnership where the best qualities of both are utilized simultaneously. AI/ML will be able to deliver personalized content based on a consumer’s preferences, provide predictive analytics equipping marketers with the necessary information to create more effective strategies, and more. Mundane, monotonous tasks will be automated, creating the freedom for the professionals to pursue other strategic and creative processes – a unified partnership where marketers are able to treat AI/ML technologies as the ultimate coworker.

Consumer Data

Consumer data is an area within marketing that is seeing major shifts today, and will certainly continue to evolve greatly over the next 10 years. Concerted efforts have been made in the past five years alone to enhance an individual’s data privacy and protection, especially in regions like the United Kingdom and Europe. These come in the form of regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and more recently, the Digital Markets Act (DMA). Mandates like these seek to protect the individual while also limiting how companies like Google, Apple and Facebook use their data.

Across the pond, the United States has been slower to enact these regulations. However, as users place increasing importance on how their data is being shared, the U.S. will be forced to follow in its neighbors’ footsteps – or risk consumer uproar. In fact, a recent survey administered by KPMG concluded that 86% of respondents have growing concerns about their data privacy, while 78% expressed fears on the amount of data being captured. These numbers will continue to rise until action is taken; that will likely occur as the United States adopts regulations or legislation similar to the United Kingdom restricting the collection and dispersing of consumer data.

In the coming years, in conjunction with the United States taking action to tighten data privacy laws, the use of first-party data will skyrocket following widespread bans of third-party cookies and data sharing. Marketers will place increased importance on the use of first-party data, and brands will have to shift focus and work harder to use this data more effectively, engaging thoughtfully with consumers on their website rather than third-party sites. Building trust in this way takes time, attention and focus, but a fully-fleshed first-party approach will ultimately convert consumers willing to provide more data in exchange for a more personalized experience. In the future, we could even see some consumers willing to share an outsized amount of data in exchange for payment. The next 10 years will see marketers’ priorities align with first-party data capture strategies.

Inclusivity in the Metaverse

The expansion of the metaverse has and will continue to create new and unique opportunities for marketers. As the virtual world grows, marketers will be faced with new experiences and channels through which they can target their efforts. The boundless, uncharted nature of the metaverse will unleash opportunities for marketers to engage with previously untapped audience segments – and they can do so through a lense of inclusivity. The metaverse allows users of all demographics, abilities, and beliefs to not only participate, but digitize and display themselves or their avatars how they choose.

What does this mean for marketers? Well, it opens up a new world of possibilities. Marketers now have the ability to create strategic campaigns that are not constrained to one or two identifying data points, but rather can reach various categories of consumers through one plan of action. With no geographical limitations and no parameters on who can take part, consumers from every background can be reached through inclusive projects. As an example, Degree recently coordinated a first-of-its-kind metaverse marathon, with great strides taken to incorporate accessible architecture like virtual wheelchair ramps. With a virtual universe at their disposal, we can expect to see marketers capitalize on the opportunity to create more inclusive spaces for more diverse audiences.

With possibilities seemingly endless, companies can create virtual experiences inside the metaverse for consumers to attend. Live virtual concerts, sporting events, and more will now be accessible to those who may have missed prior opportunities due to geographic or logistical limitations. Imagine a truly global music festival featuring performances by artists “located” in every continent on the planet, with virtual landscapes that match the real-life locations. Or a multi-cultural bazaar at which consumers can purchase digital art created by artists around the world. In the next decade, the possibilities for new marketing opportunities will be limited only by the imagination of those behind the projects. As the metaverse continues to rise in popularity, brands and marketers will engage with broader audiences in new, inclusive ways.

Recap

Marketing looks very different today from how it did 10 years ago, and it will continue to evolve in 10 years’ time. Content, strategy and technology continue to drive the industry towards more integrated and connected futures. In the last two years alone, we’ve seen a massive swing in the digital space that will surely affect marketing efforts for the coming years. In particular, marketers should pay close attention to the proliferation of AI/ML, trends around consumer data usage, and ability to create inclusive campaigns within the metaverse.

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