The Future in 2020 Vision

It’s a known fact, mobile has been on the rise faster than a Patriots fan defending Brady (of which, I am one). Mobile users make up over half of all web traffic, searching for anything from Elon Musk or Tom Brady likely makes up half of the mobile web traffic. Social media isn’t yet exactly clear on how it will affect marketers, we only know that being “insta” famous, is now deemed a desirable profession for millennials. There are plenty of opportunities and predictions, but anyone who tells you they know Drake’s new dance move or being the Uber of (insert industry here) is going to alter the marketing landscape for 2020.

Personalization of product lines have been around for longer than your Honda Civic. Point in case, Dell Computers. They are/were the king of personalization technologies. Then came Google. They gave away data for free, until it no longer was free and we were all hooked. The amount of big data now available to companies is staggering. Think about it for a second, it is actually staggering.

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are only now starting to realize the potential of personalization. I mean it’s no 6th round, 199th draft pick shock and awe legacy story for the ages. But the full encompassment of personalization is really just in its infancy stages. How will this evolve by 2020? I mean, the Patriots will surely win at least 1 more Super Bowl, hover boards could actually happen and self-driving cars are currently all the rage and rightfully so. But what are the implications for banking, law, and intellectual property? Will patents be the new currency? Well, after cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

I began wondering about how the internet has helped reform marketing over the last 10 years. I kept thinking of how “like” has been made famous, due to social media’s drive for acceptance. Of course, Facebook and other media platforms use of like has caused a generational shift in endorsement. Still, 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook alone helps validate the importance of someone’s digital approval. But what is coming down the pipelines?

collaborative strategies - back to the future creative

When I was a child and we talked about the future, I often felt we were all going to have robo-butlers, flying cars and jet packs. 

Possibly hospitable living on Mars, okay, that one is closer than we think. But still, I never understood the value of money, the importance of marketing or how this thing called a computer would dictate how virtually all communication and interaction would be handled.

We’ve evolved in the last 10 years in terms of the cultural zeitgeist, in terms of media absorption and the technology we digest. But I think the bigger lesson is that things really haven’t changed. As an industry, our quest for market share relevance and attention makes us distracted by outputs and reaching the target audience first, but lacks a platform for service and support. As creators, we have to experiment. We have to test the limits of new technology. We also have to digest and reflect on culture faster than the average Joe. But this focus, if it’s the only focus, could limit us.

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The brands and businesses that are really making a change today, foster a big idea and work relentlessly to manifest that idea in every way that’s relevant to their customers, over time. Nike is no stranger to the ad awards podium. But its success is based on a long-term brand vision. IBM’s Watson (AI) has already been signed on as a lawyer with Ross Intelligence, made movie trailers, dabbled in fashion and beaten legendary game-show contestants, but its creators note that the cognitive computing platform is “just the first step on a very, very long road.”

I think it’s too easy to think the future is always a few years off, and not realize that before you know it we’ll be living in it. Without noticing your marketing efforts fell behind. Just like that. Marketers are often seen as struggling to review the effectiveness of their campaigns. In fairness, this isn’t all their fault. It’s hard to prove a spike in sales is the result of a new ad campaign, a change of the messaging on the website, or whether it was just because of a big push by the sales team.

But digital technologies provide massive opportunities for more accurately measuring key metrics and seeing how marketing is affecting sales. Calculating the ROI is only possible when you have accurate data on what is driving traffic and conversion rates. Marketers are looking to rely less on acquisition stats and more on ROI (like any consultant would tell you). The ultimate objective of any campaign is to be able to measure ROI. If you can’t, you should be asking yourself, where did we go wrong? No technological breakthrough will come along in the next four years which will let you wave a magic wand and have your ROI calculated for you. Automation is essential for progress in the future, but it doesn’t tell a story, only the information.

The real lesson to learn is that marketing has always been and will always be about engagement. Genuine and articulated engagement. Technology has the opportunity of connecting billions of people together, but it is only an automated process that is directed by opinions and cultural norms. The days of automation are quickly coming to an end. Marketing has to be the quarterback in much of this change and adoption. Engagement will be won on the street level.

The pop up marketing movement is an excellent example of this transitional state. Pop up campaigns disrupt conventions, excite and intrigue, all while engaging with customers on a street level. Tim Horton’s, Google, and several celebrity chefs have capitalized on this unconventional limited time tactic. It may just be a fad in the marketing paradigm, or it could be the start of something new and exciting.

I guess time will tell. Here’s the to the future. Cheers.