Change is the only constant in marketing but the pace of change is increasing as disruptive technologies challenge the boundaries between our real world and the digital one. Artificial intelligence, augmented reality and wearable technology were once the stuff of dreams.
Dr Markus Vanharanta, Assistant Professor in Marketing at University College Dublin, said: “At the moment, marketing is a very exciting business discipline due to the fast pace of technological development. In particular, social media is the megatrend fundamentally changing the way companies operate.
“Social media is rapidly becoming the new Internet and the main marketing channel for most companies. In this new environment, firms need to become authentic contributors and participants in consumer bribes. This is important as traditional branding efforts are replaced by authentic consumer-generated content”.
But by 2030, how exactly will marketing change? We make some predictions below.
Artificial Intelligence will drive marketing efforts
In recent years, branding efforts have become more targeted and more interactive. Instead of traditional advertising formats which often rely on users seeking out brands, 2030 will see the opposite – where brands are seeking out users instead. Brands will do this with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).
How can AI help? Personalisation is the keyword here. By 2030, the Internet of Things – where all devices are seamlessly connected – will give brands access to personal data. With the help of AI, brands can make sense of the data and act accordingly in real time. Sunil Thomas, co-founder and CEO of behavioral analytics tool CleverTap said: “As AI technologies for data analytics mature, we can expect to see more advanced capabilities for capture and analysis. For example, a marketer could collect data based on a specific action performed by a particular user segment and then respond in real-time”.
Essentially, AI will help marketers give consumers more personalised recommendations. For example, big data can help determine that you are running out of eggs. AI will send an ad to your display that gives you discounts. With data, brands may also be able to tell what recipes you have been looking at online, so that same ad can recommend related ingredients. This is what many marketers call need-based advertising.
Another important application of AI is chatbots, which are already being used by many brands including H&M, Sephora and even news publications. While the early half of the past decade focused heavily on social media, marketing is slowly moving away from that direction. This is because, with mobile phones, everyone is now on at least one messaging app. With consumer activities happening on messaging apps like WeChat, iMessage, and Facebook Messenger, brands have to find a way to be a part of that conversation without looking too intrusive. Chatbots are the answer.
Currently, chatbots are still a little clunky. While many are trying to communicate using natural language, there is still that clear distinction that the chatbot is a brand. However, by 2030, this will change as chatbots get smarter and become more humanlike in their analyses and responses.
Christian Bruccleri, the CEO at mobile messaging company Snaps, said: “Where chatbots get really interesting is in personalising media and responses. Here you can really do one-to-one marketing at scale”.
He also added: “We see conversational media becoming the next wave and being potentially bigger than applications”.
There is even a possibility of the chatbot, as we know it today, evolving to integrate virtual reality. Bruccleri said that it is entirely possible that interacting with chatbots can be a far richer experience with a visual element involved.
With augmented reality, product is the new medium
While many are hailing virtual reality as the new frontier of marketing, it is augmented reality that will make a much bigger impact, said Chris Bell, the Asia Pacific Business director of Blippar, an augmented reality and image recognition app.
“Augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence will be the biggest disrupters and enablers in the next 10 years. It is already evident that AR is approaching a tipping point moment with the world’s leading technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and Samsung all investing in AR,” he said.
With AR, the product itself can lead to an engaging, interactive experience for consumers. Bell added: “There are billions of products in the world and each one is a gateway to a new experience.”
AR will also see a bigger reach with the popularity of wearables technology.
Wearables technology is already making an impact with Snapchat Spectacles glasses and even Google Glass, even though the latter has lived up to its hype. Wearables like these are sure to be more advanced by the year 2030.
It is therefore entirely possible to walk around in a supermarket shopping for groceries, and scanning products for relevant content and even special offers.
Bell said that brands should think of their products as their most valuable ‘owned asset’ and use their products as a gateway into contextually relevant digital content and utilities.
“Essentially, AI-driven AR and visual discovery will finally kill the term ‘digital marketing’ as the virtual and digital world will be bridged as one through augmented and mixed-reality views,” said Bell.
He also added: “Internet of Things will give brands and advertisers the ability to engage with – and learn about – their consumers in ways, allowing brands to create platforms and communities that far exceed limitations posed through today’s existing media channels”.
Will everything be free in the future?
Is it possible to get a car for free by the year 2030? Neal Moore, co-founder of Singapore’s leading content agency, thinks so.
“Attention will be the new currency,” said Moore. He added: “You are going to see commercial partnerships that make products free.”
This is something that is already happening. Popular services like Facebook and YouTube are free – you just have to go through a lot of ads. This model will be prevalent in the future, said Moore.
He said it is possible you can get a new car for free. The catch? You may just be forced to stop at a Starbucks every morning. Moore said: “Marketing is going to be the product and service. And you are going to have to pay for it with your attention,” he added.
While marketing is set to undergo a big transformation, Dr Vanharanta said that core marketing skills will still continue to be relevant. He said: “For example, the skills in consumer psychology and business strategy will continue to be useful for our students throughout their careers. A proficient marketer will hence need develop advanced skills in core marketing subjects, available at UCD, in additional to continuously learning more about new technologies”.
Be prepared for a future in marketing. Enrol in the University College Dublin’s (UCD) Bachelor of Business Studies (Honours) in Marketing (Full-time), Bachelor of Business Studies (Honours) in Marketing (Part-time) or Master of Science In Marketing (Part-time).