6 Technologies on the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2019

August 29, 2019
Contributor: Kasey Panetta

Use the 2019 Gartner Hype Cycle to prioritize your marketing technology investments.

In 2019, advertisers worldwide will lose $5.8 billion due to fraud, according to an estimate from the Association of National Advertisers and cybersecurity outfit White Ops. 

But there might be a solution on the horizon. Blockchain-based ads could eliminate fraud and substantially streamline the ad industry. Plus, a decentralized ad option would level the playing field for marketers and enable smaller organizations to compete with digital giants. But marketers beware — some blockchain solutions might expose new vulnerabilities to large-scale exploits. 

Blockchain is just one of the innovative technologies included in the 2019 Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising that marketers should focus on to drive real value. 

“In a crowded and fragmented marketplace, marketing leaders are increasing investments in innovative technologies as they strive to deliver meaningful customer experiences that differentiate their brands,” says Mike McGuire, VP Analyst, Gartner. “Gartner research shows that event-triggered and real-time marketing are considered the technologies that will have the biggest impact on marketing activities in the next five years. To realize this, marketers must be capable of using predictive analytics, automation and other technologies to deliver personalized communications.”

This year’s Hype Cycle features 28 technologies. All were selected with today’s unpredictable consumer in mind, but marketers looking to invest in martech should focus on these six in particular. 

Customer data platform (CDP)

What is it? A customer data platform (CDP) is a marketing system that unifies an organization’s customer data from marketing and other channels to enable customer modeling and optimize the timing and targeting of messages and offers.

This is a high-promise technology, but many marketers who have adopted it admit they use it as their CRM system. An option-heavy market has slowed growth as organizations try to decipher differentiating features. Many vendors promise CDP capabilities, but fail to deliver. Attempts to differentiate themselves often result in vendors providing redundant versions of existing technologies.

What should marketers do? Organizations looking to select the right vendor should review internal needs, decide whether it makes sense to buy or build, and carefully review capabilities to avoid redundancies with existing technologies and creating gaps in the technology stack. 

“Marketing leaders are increasing investments in innovative technologies as they strive to deliver meaningful customer experiences.”

Artificial intelligence for marketing

What is it? Artificial Intelligence (AI) for marketing is a combination of systems able to react to data, use cases and observations, and change behaviors without explicit human intervention.

At this point, most marketers understand the potential impact of AI. Although vendors still use the term liberally in pitches for a variety of applications, marketers can actually benefit from the technology in options like automated content tagging, conversational experiences, real-time personalization, content creation and augmented marketing analytics.

What should marketers do? AI can present difficulties due to its inherent complexity, and can create issues with accountability in regulated industries. Marketers should ask vendors to explain their AI technology roadmaps and connect with peers to understand AI across the business. Though full realization is years away, AI will radically alter marketing over the next 20 years, which means marketers should experiment and invest now.

Blockchain for advertising

What is it? Blockchain in advertising is a range of mostly speculative blockchain application opportunities to deal with fraud, lack of transparency, privacy and barriers to open competition within the advertising supply chain. Potential applications include contract mediation; registration of consumer consent for use of personal data; and independent verification of content, ad impressions and conversions.

What should marketers do? The potential impact of the technology is high, but there are significant challenges with blockchain with regard to scalability, performance and adoption. Marketers should build their knowledge on blockchain and look for opportunities to participate in trials and pilots. Maintain a healthy skepticism about claims for blockchain’s applicability for large-scale, low-latency implementations, but don’t let it blind you to the technology’s potential for securing and decentralizing ad markets.

For example, beyond fraud prevention, blockchain could offer new ways for consumers to manage personal data. It can enable organizations and individuals to verify the provenance of content and goods, reducing the threat of association with fake news, counterfeit products and ads promoting them.

Real-time marketing

What is it? Real-time marketing describes an organization's ability to interpret and respond to opportunities within a time frame that provides business advantage using tools, technologies and processes that capture, monitor, analyze and act on information in real time.

This technology offers a real competitive advantage for organizations today. Most real-time marketing use cases focus on demand generation, advertising, promotion, sales and service. The goal is to streamline the buyer journey and get buyers to purchase quickly. 

Marketers combine behavioral analytics and marketing automation to ensure consumers are seeing the right message at the right time. The speed at which organizations are able to reach consumers with the right messaging will differentiate them from competitors. 

What should marketers do? Use real-time marketing concepts to build speed and rapid response into the entire consumer life cycle. Review where poorly timed or slow reactions affect the business and ensure your organization is built for agility.

Multitouch attribution

What is it? Multitouch attribution (MTA) is software and services that help marketers evaluate how much credit to assign to each element of a multichannel marketing campaign or each touchpoint leading to a conversion. MTA promises big things, such as the ability to measure digital touchpoints beyond aggregate channel metrics and accurately determine the value of digital ads. But marketers are stumped by some significant challenges, including resolving consumer behavior across devices, privacy, data accuracy and availability. 

Interestingly, the potential impact of this technology is so large that marketers continue to invest in it despite the challenges. Gartner estimates it will take about two years for the “good enough” solutions to become standard features for marketing analytics tools. 

What should marketers do? Focus on adopting or improving measurement techniques and improving inputs for more accuracy. Eventually, MTA will allow marketers to see what is working for who in more detail and will help adjust spending levels during a campaign. 

Conversational marketing

What is it? Conversational marketing technologies enable interactions between companies and customers that mimic human dialogue and do so at scale. They employ persistent, session-based, cross-channel exchanges in the form of natural language dialogue, using a blend of text and audio. 

Conversational marketing allows businesses to improve interactions with audiences, and continues to increase in adoption rates and application. As consumers use mobile messaging for increasingly complex conversations, conversational marketing can deal with routine inquiries, but also offer new options and intelligently route consumers to the correct (human) agents if needed. This technology enables a more authentic and effective interaction with consumers, and makes it easier for marketers to implement real-time techniques. 

What should marketers do? Partner with customer experience experts to learn if this type of technology can alleviate consumer frustrations and leverage all data to create better customer interactions regardless of channel.

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