October 10, 2018
The State (and Future) of Digital Marketplaces
Technology has had a profound impact on marketing in the last decade. More than 5 years ago, Gartner correctly predicted that technology would become the centerpiece of the modern marketing function. Today, the impact of all the technology is being felt not only in how we execute our marketing strategies but in what it means to be a marketer.
According to Gartner, 81% of enterprise companies have a “Chief Marketing Technologist” who manages the increasingly complex stack of technology powering the marketing function. This is a trend that Gartner insists we should expect to see continue into 2017 with CMOs spending increasingly more of their marketing budgets, an estimated 27%, on technology.
This hyper focus on technology-fueled marketing has also had an immense impact on other types of technology, evolving artificial intelligence from the niche of science fiction to the newest must-have technology of today. AI is already helping to answer key marketer questions around which products should be offered to which customers, which customers are most valuable at point of acquisition, and which incentive will motivate goal conversion. This evolution is set to continue and accelerate.
According to Tractica, revenue for enterprise AI applications will increase from $358 million in 2016 to $31.2 billion by 2025. Furthermore, by 2018, Gartner expects that 20% of business content (such as shareholder reports, legal documents, and press releases) will be authored by machines.
In today’s marketing technology, we are seeing a rapid expansion of AI-enabled solutions, from timing and channel optimization to user journey and content optimization. The Machines have made it significantly faster for marketers to recognize and understand consumer behaviors and patterns, and as such, technology has had a dramatic impact on the marketing function. But is all of this technology killing the marketing craft? Has the science and technology overwhelmed the art and humanity?
Many marketers are struggling to find the balance between understanding and managing all of this new technology and engaging in the more traditional marketing roles. Forrester research found that more than 40% of marketers say their technology environments are too complex, and that separate teams often purchase redundant capabilities. We hear the challenges of balance and technology management in our customer base every day.
Recently at an on-site meeting with a young marketer, she walked us through the technology stack that she was managing. After rattling off 10 different marketing solutions and noting that there was even more that she couldn’t think of right then, she talked wistfully about how she went to school for marketing, thinking that she would be focused on color palettes and Mad Men-like creative development. She imagined herself as Peggy or Don, creating insightful campaign messages and pitching customers in large conference rooms in her Kodak carousel moments.
But here she was, managing a full stack of technology, more like an engineer than a marketer. The rapid advancement of artificial intelligence in marketing could be imagined to exacerbate this challenge. Beyond her current challenge of understanding complicated technology, she fears a future where she is required to understand advanced math, big data and machine learning architecture, technology, and processes. But this imagined fear is misplaced. Far from compounding her challenge, artificial intelligence can empower a return to the art of marketing.
In the cacophony of technology and rapid innovation in the marketing function, it is easy to lose sight of the purpose for this technological wonderland. The marketer took the red pill and stepped through the rabbit hole with a simple goal:
“Help me better understand and communicate with my desired audience.”
This is an age old challenge. Marketers have always wanted to better understand their audience. They have always wanted to listen to and be able to speak to their audience more clearly. They have always wanted to establish an authentic connection.
At Kahuna, we believe the future of marketing requires a highly focused and conversant approach. Marketers must manage their modern marketing technology without losing the humanity behind their approach. This requires that they find balance between art and science. A balance of their left brain proficiencies which drive a focus on data, analytics, technology, and the objective measures of marketing results with right brain proficiencies, the creative, intuitive side that focuses on brand messaging and storytelling—the more traditional marketer roles.
The fundamental challenge of marketing hasn’t changed. How we address that challenge has. The power of artificial intelligence enables the marketer to more fundamentally understand their customer than ever before. Beyond simply understanding (many great marketing reporting platforms can tell you what happened), artificial intelligence enables the marketer to leverage that understanding to tell their story in a way that they have never been able to. Artificial intelligence powers an understanding of customer behavior to decide not only which time, which channel, and which message variant to use, but which steps in the journey the user is most likely to follow. Combined with the thoughtful, innovative content that is the hallmark art of the marketer, the technology enables a focus on building a human connection and an authentic relationship with customers.
Technology has had a profound impact on the marketing function. The best of today’s marketing technology has been built on a foundation of artificial intelligence that can help the marketer answer a number of age-old marketing questions, including which products should be offered to which customers, which customers are most valuable at point of acquisition and when and which incentive will motivate goal conversion on an individual basis. Most importantly, today’s technology helps answer the fundamental marketing challenges of first understanding and then communicating.
Far from killing the marketing craft, today’s advanced artificial intelligence-enabled solutions allow marketers to focus on the art of marketing. Modern marketers who possess the agility to move between right and left brain thinking, between the art and science, will successfully harness this potential to create the future of marketing. By leveraging technology to better understand and communicate with their users, these marketers can focus on the humanity, establishing authentic human connections.
The Kahuna Strategic Services team’s mission is to accelerate marketer agility. We help organizations connect the art and science of marketing to create, optimize, and scale user engagement to drive revenue and growth. We partner with organizations through 4 tailored offerings: Execution Strategy (understanding your audience to establish a genuine connection), Content Collaboration (ensuring your content resonates through any medium), Actionable Insights (articulating the value and impact you create), and ROI and User LTV Analysis engagements (conducting detailed ROI Analysis of your users and comparing value to benchmarks and insights into your specific industry). We deliver a full range of services from strategy workshops to tactical execution support of your cross-channel strategy. We work with the full-range of marketing organizations who aspire to deliver informed, impactful, and personal experiences at scale.
From the new marketer just getting started and struggling to find the right balance of full tech stack thinking with creative execution to the more experienced marketer who may need more tailored guidance on specific elements of modern marketing, and from single individuals to full cross-functional teams, we partner as an extension of your organization through workshops, analysis, and tailored engagements.