Three Emerging Tech Trends Brands Need to Embrace to Make Personalization a Priority

April 11, 2019

By Penry Price

sorbetto/Getty Images

Marketing is being disrupted at a ridiculous pace thanks to the digital transformation of just about everything. For the brands that adapt quickly enough, it means trying new technology to master increasingly complicated data mixes, to figure out the most relevant consumers and create new customers, among other things.

With the winter trinity of tech festivals — SXSW, Mobile World Congress (MWC), and CES — now behind us, let's look at three major tech trends marketers need to bone up about for the next several months and beyond. It's a mix of futuristic mobile (hint: 5G), data strategy, and commerce 3.0.

 

5G Is Right Around the Corner

Long-anticipated 5G networks appear to be on the way: AT&T is debuting 5G in a dozen U.S. cities this year. That's just the beginning as the U.S. tries to compete with China on the 5G front.

Data in the 5G era will be more bountiful, as the number of global IoT connections is expected to triple to 25 billion by 2025. This data will transform customer relationship management, as people increasingly engage with brands via not only smart speakers, but also smart refrigerators, smart ovens, and smart cars. Using their voice or touching a screen, customers will send messages to brands and receive them at various touch points around their home or office or on the road. Brands will need the right systems in place to deal with all of the data, but the smartest technologists are already working on this next wave of CRM.

For traditional smartphone usage, the technology will increase everyone's bandwidth in a game-changing fashion, and gigantic files that now take many hours to download will take place in literally no time at all. Marketers will able to send 5-minute, 15-minute or 30-minute videos via text messages. It will be the most direct channel for branded films ever, representing a cool use case that explains why 5G was the dominant topic at MWC in late February.

Brands are going to have to figure out how to extend their existing social marketing on mobile to capitalize on 5G. Marketers have too often erred on the side of short-form video for social marketing, with 15 to 30 seconds being the norm. Will 5G make consumers more likely to engage with longer formats on social networks? If brands handle these opportunities with inspired creative, they should be able to humanize their businesses with long-form video storytelling.

 

IoT Data Needs a Careful Approach but Is Exciting

With great data comes great responsibility, and SXSW, MWC, and CES each appropriately held panels on ethics around 5G and IoT. It's imperative that brands create rules of the road for this emerging tech, which is making an already-complex customer journey even more complex.

At the same time, IoT's theoretical use cases are fascinating, and the automotive industry in particular is starting to actually realize the potential. BMW, which already offers voice AI systems, just announced a pair of chatter-worthy bells and whistles: gesture control and gaze recognition. If you are unable to use BMW's voice AI system while driving, you can employ hand gestures or your eyes to peel open the sunroof, tweak air vents, turn down the music, etc.

After BMW drivers use these features at scale, the data will inform marketers on what content to offer in cars and when to offer it. Perhaps long-distance drivers and riders — focused on their tunes or movie — will want visual ads that are activated by hand gestures or gaze calls-to-actions ("LOOK AT THIS TO PURCHASE NOW").

Marketers will want to know what experiences these consumers prefer — specifically when they are open to being interrupted during rides. And the car data will eventually offer such insights, revolutionizing CRM — not to mention social and mobile advertising and marketing as people move back and forth between their phones and car dashboards.

 

Retail Buzz Focuses on Direct-to-Consumer

There were full program tracks for the convergence of digital with physical stores at SXSW, MWC, and CES. Direct-to-consumer brands like StitchFix, Adore Me, and Bonobos are bricks-and-clicks pioneers that can teach many marketers about the value of understanding consumer behavior data and the customer journey to create personalized shopping.

Did you know that one-third of Americans will do at least 40 percent of their shopping from direct-to-consumer brands in the next five years, while 81 percent plan to make at least one purchase from a direct-to-consumer brand? It's true.

Direct-to-consumer players' successes lie in solving a problem no one else in retail has solved before. For instance, luggage brand Away found a price point in the middle of high-end brands and inexpensive suitcases while offering a quality product and an Apple-esque design. Then, it leans in on content marketing and social advertising, which has helped the brand sell a half million suitcases in its first two years. There are dozens of other examples, including the subscription contact lens startup Hubble, which has become a global brand overnight.

 

Get Ready for the 2020s

More than anything, SXSW, MWC, and CES taught us that — if we thought the last few years were transformative for the customer experience — the next decade is going to mind-blowing. The smartest way to keep stride is to focus on mobile and to steer toward how digital is blending with other channels. And marketers need to prepare for the next generation of 5G-enabled data.

Indeed, at every step of the way, data will be central to the industry's progress. Gesture and gaze data, for instance, will be analyzed similarly to how email messages for the last 15 years. Which car ads worked? Which didn't? We'll find out — it's our job as brand marketers to do so.

All of these new data inputs affect every element of existing marketing plans. There will be more, stronger signals to inform media buys, social-mobile advertising and content marketing. And another thing is certain: the power of strong, accurate analytics will remain as important as ever. While marketing concepts like customer retention and lifetime value aren't going anywhere, they are about to evolve at an incredible pace.

Penry Price is VP at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


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