Press Release


STAMFORD, Conn., September 2, 2021

Gartner Identifies Five Technologies to Have a Significant Impact on Digital Advertising in the Next Two to Five Years

Gartner Analysts Discuss the Viability of Emerging and Scaling Advertising Technologies During the Virtual Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo 2021

Generative artificial intelligence (AI), account-based marketing (ABM) platforms, identity resolution (IDR), shoppable media, and visual search for marketing are likely to have a transformational or high impact within the advertising industry in the next two to five years, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner analysts are discussing key issues facing CMOs and marketing leaders during the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place virtually through Thursday.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Advertising 2021 (see Figure 1) evaluated 16 must-watch technologies within the context of the creation of a consent-driven economy, heightened regulatory scrutiny of “big tech” globally, and the increased skepticism on the value of advertising so that digital marketers can assess the viability of emerging and scaling technologies.

“Advertisers and digital marketers must adopt an operational mindset to stay ahead of these trends and other changes within the industry,” said Leah Leachman, senior principal analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. “They must also adopt a test-and-learn approach when harnessing innovative technologies, and shift toward an iterative ad planning process, in order to build effective and scalable advertising capabilities.”

Figure 1: Hype Cycle for Digital Advertising, 2021

Source: Gartner (September 2021)

Generative AI: Generative AI refers to AI techniques that learn a representation of artifacts from the data, and use it to generate brand-new, completely original artifacts that preserve a likeness to original data. Generative AI can produce totally novel media content (including text, image, video and audio), synthetic data and models of physical objects. Industry applications of generative AI are growing. For example, in consumer goods, it generates catalogs and in e-commerce, it can help customers “try on” various makeups and outfits. 

Speaking during his Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo session, “All AI is Not the Same: What Marketing Leaders Should Know About Deep Learning,” Jason McNellis, senior director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice, stated that testing is essential with generative AI to demonstrate the value, but also to ensure there are no unexpected consequences.

ABM platforms: ABM platforms enable B2B marketing and sales teams to engage and report on named prospect or customer accounts. They automate account selection and prioritization, audience management, activation and orchestration across channels, contact and account-level reporting, sales alerting, and engagement analytics.

“A growing number of organizations are evaluating, rolling out or have fully adopted ABM programs,” said Rick LaFond, director analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice. During his Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo session, “Navigating the Convergence of ABM Platforms and Marketing Automation Solutions,” LaFond advised that organizations exhaustively explore the potential of their marketing automation platform to execute ABM programs before investing in an ABM platform.

IDR: IDR is the process of locating and linking records from one or more datasets that refer to the same individual or household. Marketers use IDR to analyze and deduplicate multisource datasets, to target, run and measure advertising and direct marketing campaigns, and to provide consistent communications across organizational functions such as sales and service. There is a high level of interest in IDR, most recently driven by uncertainty related to the deprecation of third-party cookies and mobile ad IDs (MAIDs) by Google and Apple.

Shoppable media: Shoppable media refers to videos, images, and other interactive media formats that trigger a transaction on a commerce site when a user selects an object representing showcased merchandise. Object examples include a button on an image or video of a piece or collection of merchandise. Various digital shoppable media formats are available and viewable via both mobile and desktop — with notable momentum in social media apps.

Speaking during her Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo session, “Emerging Channels and Trends Disrupting the Social Media Landscape,” Bo Kim, senior principal analyst in the Gartner Marketing practice, said making a purchase through social media apps is becoming a norm for younger generations and advised marketers to bolster in-app shopping with advanced merchandising and cascade content to brand site to extend shelf life.

Visual search for marketing: Visual search is the ability to initiate a search using real-world images captured by a mobile device, including smartphones and tablets. It can enhance customer experience across all phases of the buying journey from awareness to post-sale service and support. Beyond reducing friction for the customer or prospect at the top of the funnel, visual searches are a source of contextual information that help customers find what they need faster.

Gartner for Marketers clients can learn more about these technologies and others in the report: Hype Cycle for Digital Advertising, 2021.

This research is part of the Gartner Special Report “2021 Hype Cycles: Innovating Delivery Through Trust, Growth and Change.” The 2021 Gartner Hype Cycles help organizations to make innovation a core competency and shape and prioritize their approach to innovation delivery.

About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner analysts discuss the key issues facing CMOs during the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place virtually August 31 – September 2. This conference provides marketing leaders actionable advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to deliver business results. Gartner analysts address the biggest opportunities, challenges and priorities marketers face today, including data and analytics, customer experience, content marketing, customer insight, marketing technology (martech) and multichannel marketing. Follow news and updates for the event on Twitter at #GartnerMKTG.

About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice, and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available online at Follow news and updates from the Gartner Marketing practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerMKTG.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit