Gartner has identified four technologies it's claiming have the capability to transform how marketers run technology ecosystems and, ultimately, deliver meaningful customer experiences.
According to the analyst firm's latest Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising 2019 report, artificial intelligence (AI) for marketing, customer data platforms (CDPs), blockchain for advertising, and real-time marketing are the technologies earmarked to make a difference to marketing into the future. Gartner also recommended marketers continue to monitor and be aware of other technologies, such as conversational marketing and multi-touch attribution, which are high impact and moving forward.
"Marketers today must strike the right balance between delivering meaningful customer experiences that differentiate their brands and focusing on providing real value to the business," a vice-president analyst in Gartner's Marketing practice, Mike McGuire, said.
"Event-triggered and real-time marketing will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years. However, before marketers can realise the benefits of these technologies, they must first become proficient in predictive analytics and delivering personalised communications."
Customer Data Platforms
Marketers' expectations for CDPs remain at an all-time high, but the reported use of the technology differs, with some confusion around many vendors and overlap with similar technologies.
Half the enterprise marketers surveyed by Gartner who have deployed a CDP said it's their CRM system, which indicates a misperception of its purpose and unique differentiators. Attempts to differentiate based on auxiliary features, such as customer journey design and optimisation, rule-based attribution, final-mile campaign execution, and website personalisation, highlight redundancy with other, more mature marketing technologies.
AI for Marketing
AI continues to be the buzzword used to describe a host of features to augment the functions performed by marketers, from automated content tagging to real-time personalisation. Over the next 20 years, the power AI holds with marketers will drive pervasive shifts across the marketing technology ecosystem, effectively transforming the marketing practice, Gartner stated in the report.
Blockchain for Advertising
Blockchain for advertising holds tremendous promise for marketers. However, significant challenges with scalability, performance and adoption must be overcome before blockchain can alter the status quo. Dozens of companies have launched experimental blockchain platforms for advertising, but none have been able to demonstrate ongoing viability.
Despite the scepticism, the technology is gaining momentum through support from organisations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and emerging innovations from technology companies such as IBM, Comcast and Amazon, which are working with industry leaders on the buy and sell side of media.
DMP versus CDP: Which tech platform will win the marketing war?
Advances in technology are creating an environment characterised by on-demand marketing, not just always-on marketing. Search technologies and social media make it easy to share, compare and rate experiences while they are happening. Ignoring the real-time nature of customer behaviour and expectations leads to lost opportunities or, worse, development of full-scale media crises.
Leading brands are combining behavioural analytics and marketing automation to serve up the right offer or message at the right time based on specific customer behaviours. To date, most real-time marketing use cases focus on demand generation, advertising, promotion, sales and service.
However, Gartner said, many multichannel marketers still struggle for relevance in core customer engagement moments and lack a clear business case for real-time engagement. Its 2019 Multichannel Marketing Survey showed less than half of respondents (44 per cent) use predictive modelling or rigorous testing to determine if a real-time response is warranted when designing event-triggered marketing.
To close the gap, marketers must look to revamp processes and make greater use of marketing technologies for customer data gathering, analysis and activation.