A data deluge is forecast for the coming year – intensified by increased use of mobile and connected devices – but will marketers see clearer skies ahead as they learn how to use the information available to enhance campaign performance alongside technologies such as mobile programmatic, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI)?
To find out more about how data will shape the world of digital marketing in the year ahead we asked a handful of industry experts for their predictions for 2017:
There will be steady progress towards real-time marketing attribution
“As marketers become more comfortable with using the data available to them, there is now a growing school of thought that the tracking and analysis of this information should be available in real-time.
“This will come closer to reality in 2017, as attribution providers rebuild their algorithmic models daily to produce the most accurate and up-to-date metrics needed to fuel faster optimisation. Meanwhile marketers will begin to break down the process barriers that confound faster optimisation, including inflexible budgets and media spending agreements.” – Bill Muller, chief marketing officer at Visual IQ
Creativity will come back to advertising
“Data has been driving advertising for many years in some form or another, and in 2016, the pursuit of accuracy and ‘insights’ became all-consuming at the cost of good creative. As a result, marketers were more preoccupied with cross-device tracking and targeting rather than creating messages and campaigns inspiring enough to pique and engage user attention.
“In the year ahead, this focus will shift and creativity will take its rightful place alongside, not behind, data. Creativity has the ability to tell stories, and it’s this narrative that creates a connection with the audience, not the data itself. If not used intelligently, data can act as a barrier to storytelling and diminish the relevancy of the ad.” – Lisa Menaldo, UK managing director at Sublime Skinz
Brands will navigate an influx of connected data
“Thanks to the growing popularity of connected devices – such as wearables and augmented reality (AR) devices – the amount of consumer data available is set to explode. Technological developments will provide an exciting opportunity for brands to fuse new real-time data streams with existing smartphone data to better interact with consumers. Driven by developments in AR in particular, many industries will see more compelling brand storytelling emerge, with immersive experiences for consumers taking centre stage.
“Retail brands will lead the charge, using VR and AR to showcase personalised messaging to consumers and predictive analysis to make better staffing decisions during peak shopping periods. Armed with granular real-time data, brands and businesses will be better equipped to anticipate consumer needs and deliver exactly what they want, at precisely the right moment.” – Anil Mathews, CEO & founder of Near
Mobile programmatic will be taken seriously
“According to a recent report by IAB, over three-quarters of marketers value programmatic mobile as an important platform, however only 27% have purchased programmatic mobile adverts. Why then has the adoption of this media channel been slow? Perhaps a lack of education on the benefits of mobile programmatic is at fault.
“With the increase of consumer adoption of mobile and rapid development in programmatic technology, we will start to see an urgency from marketers to include mobile programmatic in their strategy planning. As 2017 will see a rapid growth in mobile programmatic, the media channel will soon be treated seriously as a powerful branding tool to amplify reach to consumers.” – Alex Rahaman, vice president of programmatic StrikeAd at Sizmek
Marketers will focus on data governance
“The industry-wide realisation that data can resolve numerous business challenges will secure it a pivotal role throughout 2017. With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) looming large there will inevitably be some confusion and a degree of data lockdown. Some companies will even plan a full rip and replace of their entire technology stack, but more informed businesses will understand that controlling data isn’t about where it sits. Central control of data means building bridges between silos so that – like air traffic control – no data is actioned without orders from the central tower.
“The enhanced digital maturity that compliance with the GDPR promotes will provide an opportunity for marketers to overcome a variety of challenges, with data privacy concerns being a key example. While millennials are mostly willing to share their data, other audiences perceive data is collected solely to benefit businesses and are concerned about who may be accessing it. Compliance with new legislation should go a long way to address these fears.” – Lindsay McEwan, vice president and managing director EMEA at Tealium
AI will fuel placement optimisation
“The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) within the digital marketing and advertising industries started to hit the headlines more frequently in 2016, propelled by the Partnership on AI to promote best practice. As we approach 2017, we’ll start to see more technology partners and brands begin to experiment with the capabilities and efficiencies AI can offer.
“Within advertising, natural language processing (NLP) is a form of AI that marketers can already implement to optimise ad placements within the correct contextual environment. By using technology that reads and understands words as a human would, the sentiment of content can be determined and used to effectively place advertisements with relevant messaging.” – Giovanni Strocchi, CEO at ADmantX
By Jonathan Davies, editor, Digital Marketing Magazine