Although billboards, TV ads, print ads, and other means of offline advertising persist, the future of marketing is digital. Most marketing activities already take place online and this trend shows no signs of slowing down.
At our current pace, the world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day. 90% of all the data on the internet has been produced in the last two years alone. This pace is only going to increase with the Internet of Things – everyday devices that can collect and transfer data.
Advances in Artificial Intelligence give marketers an unprecedented ability to analyze data to devise more creative advertising techniques. The days of ads designed for mass appeal are giving way to an age where marketing is increasingly customer-centered and bespoke.
New technologies and new experiences
People all over the world are spending increasing amounts of time online consuming content. The Digital 2019 report from Hootsuite and We Are Social found that the average person with internet access spends 6 hours and 42 minutes online every day, with at least half of that time on mobile devices. Customers are already online, and that’s where marketers are finding them.
Customer relationship management
In the digital age, businesses can communicate directly with online audiences through customer relationship management services.
In Thailand, for example, LINE is by far the most popular mobile messaging platform – 95% of mobile internet users have it. The LINE BCRM service allows businesses to advertise directly to 42 million regular LINE users. It also allows them to track and analyze follower demographics, send personalized and targeted messages, and have one-on-one chats. Companies like dtac, Thiarath, SCB, and Knorr are already using LINE BCRM to great effect.
Bluetooth technology now allows for interactive online to offline experiences. Beacons – small devices placed in strategic locations near products in stores – can locate the position of customers and push targeted content directly to their smartphones.
In the future, these beacons will be able to detect the directional positioning of customers and determine when they are looking at specific products or ads.
The way we consume media, including promotional content, will continue to evolve rapidly in the coming years. Smartphones might eventually give way to glasses that show an interactive layer on top of reality.
Google has already developed Glass: a pair of eyeglasses which can display smartphone-like information right in front of the user’s eyes, eliminating the need for hand-held devices.
This technology is still in its infancy, but it could present a huge opportunity for marketers to communicate even more directly with their audiences. Soon, marketers will bid for virtual advertising real estate at physical locations in the same way they bid for space on webpages today.
Blockchain had a bumpy start after the initial hype surrounding the technology, but several valid new business models have emerged. Once they mature, microtransactions will become the norm and users will be able to claim back their personal data, only sharing it with entities they choose to trust – and even then, only in exchange for financial compensation. Overall, we should see more standardization and transparency in the handling of advertising and personal data.
As Artificial Intelligence improves, the need for technical software proficiency will become less important. Software will simply follow commands and complete the technical parts of whatever job users want to accomplish.
The elimination of this barrier will allow more people to offer their creative output to the world. Websites, videos, blogs, and of course marketing content, will be technically easier than ever to produce.
The final frontier?
Bandwidth speed keeps improving exponentially. We’ve gone from the 56K modem to fiber optics in the wired world and 2G to 5G in the wireless world. We can now send text and HD video to practically any populated part of the planet almost instantly. There are fewer barriers to communication than ever before, and this improved capability has completely revolutionized how we engage with one another personally, professionally, and commercially.
The next bandwidth barrier to break will be the one to the brain. Elon Musk is already working on Neuralink: an ultra-high bandwidth interface that would connect human brains directly to the internet.
When technologies like this become a reality, we will be able to not only exchange and disseminate content instantly, but absorb it instantly as well. We will be able to share a full range of experiences, including our actual feelings, over the internet without even requiring audiences to read or see the content. Content will no longer be consumed; it will be experienced.
In such a world, where are all technical barriers to communication have been removed, it will no longer matter who has the highest advertising budgets. The best storytellers will rise to the top.