Adobe Digital Dialogue

January 17, 2017 /Digital Marketing /

Top marketing technology predictions for 2017

As I sit down to write the predictions for the new year, the thought of how great 2016 was for marketing technology comes to my mind.


From leading traditional businesses experimenting with Augmented and Virtual Reality to enhance their in-store shopping experiences to mobile apps becoming the centerpiece of every brand’s marketing strategy, last year was truly a game changer. It was the year when digital teams got an equal or a higher priority than their off-line counterparts and mobile became a significant contributor to the business, even for the non-digitally run businesses. With this in mind, I am extremely excited to share my thoughts on what to expect in the marketing and technology world in 2017.

Artificial Intelligence finally meets marketing

While AI and ML (Machine Learning) have been there for more than ten years now, this is the year it gets to come of age in the marketing world. Application of AI in marketing is evolving at a massive pace and is going to make marketers realize the enormity of task at their hands. Better prepared marketers would help their brands and themselves by tapping into this wave whereas others wouldn’t know what hit them.

Last year digital marketers finally came to terms with all the possible channels where they could spend their media monies on. They took the fight for customer’s eye balls from the web to app stores. The job was already hard enough when they had to split monies across desktop web and mobile web versus mobile apps. The user behavior was constantly changing, making marketers unsure of their decisions. It is no surprise that most marketers want to talk about attribution today because they honestly don’t know how their media spends are translating into revenue and conversions. Customers were freely moving across channels and devices which made it increasingly complex for marketers.

Believe me, in 2017, this will become even more complex, when the likes of Google Assistant, SIRI and Facebook Messenger behave like the new age app stores. These are the arenas where brands will have to compete again to fight for customer’s attention. AI driven bots that would want to anticipate customer’s next requirement, would start becoming mainstream from this year onwards and expect more and more brand budgets and resources allocated towards them. As devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo (which retails around Rs 7,500 or $110 in India) starts gaining higher adoption among urban consumers, it would further increase the number of channels across which a brand has to be present and consistently provide a great customer experience. This brings me to my second prediction.

Omnichannel becoming table stakes

Gone are the days when business reporting for product adoption and user behavior is done in silos. Customers would traverse even more number of channels this year than in the past. The first impact of this is the growing need for brands to understand their customers completely. This would require combining multiple sources of data from both digital as well as offline interactions in a single platform to derive a holistic customer view. Brands which are unable to completely understand their customers will have an inefficient marketing strategy. Getting a complete picture of customer across all touch points would become table stakes in 2017. Expect a lot of enterprises investing in platforms which will enable them arrive at an holistic understanding of customer profile across all channels, and not only across offline data sources, as was the case in the past.

The second impact would be the need of a true omnichannel platform which could execute across marketing channels, thereby leading the marketers to focus on brand strategy, rather than operations. A platform like this would be fully effective if it gets access to the complete profile of a user. Predictive analytics techniques like lead scoring, propensity to buy etc. would give way to application of predictive analytics in customer service domain. Predicting what a customer would need in her journey, will become the differential factor in driving a great customer experience

The third impact of this change would result in the further consolidation in the martech space. Point products solving point issues would find fewer takers across leading businesses and hence it would become increasingly difficult to continue running them. A lot of these innovative point product companies would want to align themselves with the larger platform players, catering to multiple marketing pain points, through acquisition.

Increasing importance of UGC to Brands

While paid social ads have been there for quite a few years and are great in driving the direct response for businesses like ecommerce, 2017 will be the year where earned and owned social will also feature as an important part of marketer’s consideration set. User generated content is ruling the roost right now. Many of the Instagram accounts, having few million followers, are up for grabs to the highest bidders. Fashion and beauty, as well as Travel and hospitality brands have really leveraged the influencer marketing channel over last year and now other business verticals will take notice. Social communities of influencers is becoming the key channel for marketers to keep their brand relevant among millennials.

Video and Mobile continue to grow

With the increase in video publishers, and investment in video portals by both media and telecom companies, programmatic video advertising is set to grow. This year, it will become an important part of the media plan as it is making video advertising cheaper. Many marketers whose budgets never allowed them to look at TV or Youtube, will now be able to run online video ads for a fraction of the price. They will be able to evaluate its performance similar to a channel like search which will bridge the gap in branding and direct response metrics.

Mobile usage on apps and web, will continue to grow, as was the case last year. Mobile was responsible for bringing in traffic to brand’s web and app properties and from this year onwards, mobile will also become a channel responsible for transactions. Mobile experiences for brands would improve in line with their desktop experiences.

Demonetization accelerating the change in India

I don’t remember doing any cash transaction in the last couple of months since demonetization in Nov’16. The impact of this move is leading to a higher adoption of digital currency and payment systems and is helping take these technologies from urban niches to the masses. Brands are also noticing the massive change in consumer behaviour this is leading to and are adapting to the new realities by investing in platforms to capture digital interactions to integrating with digital payment systems. As more and more users transact online, the need for brands to reach and market to them through online channels is growing, thereby fueling innovations in marketing technology.

Feel a trend is missing in the above predictions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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  • By Rishi Bhargava - 2:33 PM on January 19, 2017   Reply

    Hi Varun,

    Great read!

    While ML, AI had been there in the market for long, their usage in mass consumer market had been picking up since past decade. While Siri had been there for sometime now, its usage in enterprise domain is limited to few B2C companies. Apple had been restrictive as it is testing waters with Enterprise Mobile Apps segment. B2C Apps in allowed domains are benefiting.

    Google Assistant again has to find its way into enterprises due to its lack of domain specific patterns (developer community has to build those).

    The voice activated digital assistants, such as Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Samsung’s Otto etc are fighting to gain entry into consumer segment through voice only interfaces. This is hard.

    Secondly, enterprises, wanting to make use of these cutting edge technologies must have to focus on their own vast amount of data gathered through various customer touch points and make that data relevant for Siri, Alexa, Assistant etc. There is lot of effort involved and given Google’s tendency of shutting down initiatives subject to it’s profits, it is important that enterprises, who are willing to invest on such interfaces for their business must decide on at least 3 years continuity and road map.

    Demonetization gave an opportunity to some of the players to gain market share temporarily, but they need to continuously look beyond such government actions to gain popularity. What this action from government had done is that given the necessary impetus to digital economy, which otherwise was lacking speed (albeit innovative tech).

    Smarter city and IoT will play major role in 2017 and beyond with sensor based economy for greater consumer experiences. These will have to backed by ML and AI for better rollout of Smarter city initiatives. This is mother of all projects as enterprises and consumer companies, both will benefit from the potential Smarter City project will offer them in terms of efficiency and data visibility through sensors. AI and ML will play crucial roles in deciphering this data, that the enterprises and government can make sense and for that Siri, Assistant and others have to evolve more than just limiting to voice activated tools.

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