What do firm leaders think will happen to marketing this year? To find out, I turned to CEOs who represent a variety of different industries and companies.
Marketers will begin focusing on PR tech: Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO, AirPR
We can’t talk about MarTech without talking about PRTech, the increasingly important public relations and brand awareness aspect given the onset of content marketing. In regards to PRTech advancements, I think AI will continue to replace repetitive tasks for public relations and communications professionals. This includes things like manually creating spreadsheets of press placements or charts that show coverage volume. Human brain power will be reserved for more high-level strategy, not the granular tasks.
Marketers will begin creating more sophisticated strategic plans to leverage video: Brad Jefferson, CEO, Animoto
Today, video consumption is at an all-time high and more marketers than ever have started using it. But in 2017, simply using video won’t be enough. Marketers and businesses of all sizes looking to stand out will need to become more adept at video strategy, understanding everything from what makes a video engaging to A/B testing and how to manage TrueView and Facebook video ad campaigns. Video strategy and creation will be an increasingly desirable skillset to have, and businesses are hiring for it.
The gig economy will provide CMOs with opportunities to work in multiple firms: Art Saxby, CEO, Chief Outsiders
The Gig Economy is spreading and growing–from hiring a car and driver for 10 minutes or a condo by the beach for 3 days to hiring a hyper-specialized executive resource 1-2 days a week. Shifts in both technology and society now allow an accomplished senior executive to be an active member of the management team of two or three companies at once while living anywhere they want. It also means that mid-size companies now have access to executive resources that they could never before afford or attract. This ability for companies and executives to work virtually is enabled by SaaS of all varieties. This is a significant benefit to mid-market companies, giving them the ability to access talent and conduct business with an ever-increasing level of productivity as they add applications with zero effort and no IT overhead.
Voice-Related AI will take prominence in marketing discussions in 2017: Gregg Johnson, CEO, Invoca
Voice has always been central to how we communicate. With the spike in voice-related AI advancements this year, it’s poised to be even more essential in 2017. In 2016 alone, Google announced its own smart speaker and assistant, Apple opened Siri to third party developers, and Mary Meeker named voice a key trend in her annual internet trends report, saying that “voice-based interfaces are ramping quickly and creating a new paradigm for human-computer interaction.” People are already talking to Siri and Alexa about things they want to purchase — if they have questions in the decision making process, it is natural to continue that conversation with a robot or a human. Next year we will see voice capabilities move from a “nice to have” to the new killer feature, the new user interface.
E-Commerce will get a big boost from tech: Amit Sharma, Founder & CEO, Narvar
E-commerce companies need to think more like tech companies, using AI and machine learning to make shopping an organic part of how we experience daily life. Today, you can call an Uber with Amazon Echo and book a flight entirely through a Facebook Messenger bot. In 2017 brands will combine emerging tech like biometrics and location sensors with storytelling, design and predictive data to create truly individual experiences. By connecting data from multiple channels and building human-centered experiences, marketers will help you find products in your precise moment of need — and perhaps before you even perceive that need.”
Marketers will use AI to take the guesswork out of predictive modeling: Pini Yakuel, CEO, Optimove
AI-based bots and digital assistants will become essential in the creation of marketing insights. Marketers today have at their fingertips what ten years ago would have been considered an unimaginable amount of data. The real challenge has become separating the wheat from the chaff – recognizing significant data, forging insights and creating relevant actions, all in real time. Utilizing machine learning and predictive algorithms to take the guesswork out of marketing decision making is becoming essential for the perpetuation of creative, exciting, hearts-and-needle-moving campaigns. In an era where emotionally intelligent customer marketing is de facto the new branding, marketers will be automating insights through artificial intelligence.
Companies will be more discerning about where they deploy chatbots: Matt Gillin, CEO, Relay Network
In 2017, businesses will hesitate to use chatbots on Facebook. Chatbots have immense potential, and as they improve, more and more companies will adopt them to enhance their customer experience. But 2017 is when businesses will get smarter about the use of this technology: they will hesitate to use them on third-party properties like Facebook, instead, applying them on their own websites and private channels, as appropriate. This will be driven by a desire to secure customer data, especially in regulated industries like banking and healthcare, and prevent the Facebooks of the world from profiting from it. In an age where more than half of adults don’t trust Facebook with their data, the platform on which chatbots are used becomes even more important.
We will see the collapse of small-time ad networks: Peter Reinhardt, Co-Founder & CEO of Segment
In 2017, I think we will see the collapse of the smaller ad networks. There are two forces working against them– the continued dominance of Facebook and Google, and the widespread blocking of third-party cookies. As Facebook and Google continue to pull ahead in market share, the smaller networks are not able to compete. Last quarter, Facebook and Google each grew their ad revenues around 20%, while the combined remainder of the digital advertising ecosystem revenues shrunk to 5%. In 2017, we will see an acceleration of this trend – the small-time ad networks will no longer be relevant part of the larger ecosystem.
Also, the recent privacy development that Apple and Mozilla have taken to block third-party cookies will drastically hurt these smaller ad-networks. These networks are so dependent on third-party cookies for better targeting and to share data between services that they need these doors to be open in order to survive. Google is poised to deliver the final blow if/when it updates Chrome to follow suit on cookie privacy. This move will shut down the rest of the small-time ad-network ecosystem that relies on third party cookies.
Competitive benchmarking will be key for advertisers: James Fennessy, CEO of Standard Media Index
From all of my discussions with leading brands, agencies and publishers it’s clear the biggest issue for 2017 is competitive bench-marking from an advertising and marketing effectiveness perspective. Companies have been able to look at their own return on advertising spend but it’s extremely rare that they have any information, let alone accurate and timely information, about their competitors. With evidence showing a diverse media-mix is more critical than ever, competitive bench-marking analysis is needed to help brands change course mid campaign and easily and quickly determine how their mix should evolve based on the media channels that are delivering the best ROI for their category.”
Marketers will be ‘in the moment’: Brett Caine, CEO of Urban Airship
Attention spans have shrunk by 50 percent since the advent of the smartphone and are now down to eight seconds for the average person. The only moment that matters to customers is what’s happening right now, and the number that respond to advertising has fallen by more than 100 percent in the last two years per Deloitte.
These changes in consumer behavior are happening even as more channels offer new ways to reach them including chat messaging services, smart home devices and in car displays. Experts predict that the next 10 years will generate an order of magnitude more change than we have seen in the last 10 years. To survive these changes, marketers have to undergo a seismic shift in their approach from blast promotions to real-time customer experience and in-the-moment utility. This will naturally be mobile-led, with its anywhere, anytime access, and requires open data and open systems to understand and respond in real-time throughout the entire customer experience. Personalization will become individualization as predictive machine learning and AI advance real-time automation and make this 1:1 future possible and scalable.
Ad blockers will become less effective: Russell Glass, VP Products, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Advertisers and publishers were caught off guard by ad blockers in 2015, when many underestimated the impact ads were having on the user experience. In 2016, we saw how popular ad blockers were with users, particularly on desktop. Next year, contrary to the conventional wisdom, we will see ad blocker usage rates stabilize — and possibly even decrease — as two advertising trends converge.
First, mobile usage will continue to grow and displace the time we spend on desktop computers, where ad blockers are most widely used. Desktops are quickly becoming “secondary touch points” for online activities such as e-commerce. Second, publishers will continue forcing users to shut off ad blockers (or whitelist their sites) to access content. Publications like Slate, Forbes, and The Huffington Post have jumped into the ad blocking conversation by marketing their “ad light” and subscription products to ad blocker users. Facebook has outright blocked the ad blockers. Since so many digital publications still rely on advertising for a majority of their revenue, users will be increasingly faced with a choice: whitelist the sites they care about or pay up. Combined with efforts like Facebook’s approach, ad blockers will become less effective and usage will diminish over time.