3 Insights From Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2018

Emerging and established technologies such as blockchain, consent management and multichannel marketing hubs provide opportunity amid rising privacy concerns.

Privacy concerns and data-driven marketing have erupted in lockstep over recent years. Before the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) went into effect, you’d have been hard-pressed to visit a U.S. website that had a cookie tracking opt-in banner. Now that GDPR is in effect, opt-in and data policy banners are ubiquitous. At the dawn of 2019, new regulations and new opportunities exist for marketers to ensure an equitable and transparent value exchange with their audiences.

Marketers can use this year’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising to prioritize technology investments

“As marketers double-down on data-driven strategies to deliver growth, they must address growing demands from consumers and regulators for more control over personal data usage,” says Bryan Yeager, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner for Marketers.

Marketers can use this year’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising to prioritize technology investments that strike a balance when delivering relevant experiences. Gartner Hype Cycles provide graphical representations of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications, and how they are potentially relevant to solving real business problems and exploiting new opportunities.

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Balancing privacy and personalization

Marketers collect and analyze enormous amounts of data to fuel relevant and differentiated customer experiences. That data is often personal in nature. Regulators and consumers are scrutinizing how this data is used and collected in greater detail. The misuse or abuse of personal data by marketers and their partners erodes customer trust and invites further regulatory oversight.

Consent management platforms and blockchain applications for advertising are emerging as potential avenues to deliver personalized marketing in a more equitable way. Similarly, personification is on the rise as marketers explore new ways to deliver relevance and results without using personally identifiable data.

  • Personification enables marketers to deliver targeted digital experiences to individuals based on their inferred membership in a characteristic customer segment rather than on their personal identity. Personification is steadily climbing the Innovation Trigger phase.
  • Blockchain for advertising covers a range of applications of blockchain technology to elements in the advertising supply chain that suffer from fraud, lack of transparency and barriers to open competition. Blockchain for advertising is early in the Innovation Trigger stage of the Hype Cycle. While blockchain’s powers seem poised to address many problems facing digital advertising, significant problems of scalability, performance and adoption must be surmounted before blockchain can alter the status quo.

The Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2018

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to entice

AI continues to seduce marketers. Unrelenting vendor hype shows no sign of slowing. AI hype in marketing heavily outweighs actual adoption. AI-related client inquiries to Gartner analysts more than doubled in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period a year ago. Yet only 7% of client references for the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics reported using AI features.

Even so, underlying AI techniques, such as natural-language processing, are responsible for driving innovations like conversational marketing technologies, which just entered the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase.

  • AI for marketing comprises systems that change behaviors without being explicitly programmed based on data collected, usage analysis and other observations for marketing use cases. Unprecedented insight, intuition and scale fueled by AI will help marketers deliver relevant experiences to prospects and customers with increasing effectiveness and efficiency.
  • Conversational marketing technologies enable interactions between companies and customers that mimic human dialogue and do so at scale. This category is near the Peak of Inflated Expectations phase.

The quest to attain the elusive unified customer view fuels hype

Marketers’ desire to unify disparate sources of customer data to activate interactions and deliver relevant experiences fuels the rise of two important technologies: Customer data platforms (CDPs) and multichannel marketing hubs rose to the Peak of Inflated Expectations in the 2018 Hype Cycle.

CDPs enable marketers to stitch together an array of data sources and orchestrate that data for activation across numerous execution systems, such as email and websites. Multichannel marketing hubs, a combination of digital marketing hubs and multichannel campaign management solutions, rose to near the Peak because they promise a more integrated approach. They allow marketers to manage the life cycle of their programs across all channels within one solution.

  • Customer data platforms are marketing systems that unify a company’s customer data from marketing and other channels to analyze customers, enable modeling, and optimize the timing and targeting of communications.  
  • Multichannel marketing hubs orchestrate a company’s communications with and offers to customer segments across multiple channels.

Read more: Improve Multichannel Marketing With Customer Data Platforms

Additional insights from the 2018 Hype Cycle

  • Hype for content marketing, social marketing management and data management platforms is dissipating as these technologies mature into accepted and required marketing tools.
  • Customer journey analytics has a high potential benefit to marketers but is still more than 10 years from mainstream adoption.
  • Location intelligence and mobile wallet marketing enable more complex actions to be concluded entirely within the mobile environment with greater relevance — thanks to the incorporation of a customer’s current context.

“Track the maturity and future potential of technologies already deployed within your company and evaluate which innovations are relevant to your business,” says Yeager.

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Gartner for Marketers clients can read more in Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing and Advertising, 2018 by Bryan Yeager.

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