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.

Digital Marketing

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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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