4 Hidden Forces That Will Shape Marketing in 2019

Consumer, regulatory, organizational and technological trends are changing the rules of the game for CMOs.

Four forces are deep at work altering the landscape for marketing in 2019 and beyond. The forces — and the opportunities they represent — are hidden in plain sight.

Take privacy, for example. Many still view privacy policies as a check-the-box legal exercise, yet consumer attitudes toward privacy and data collection have fundamentally changed. British fast-fashion brand Asos saw its privacy policy as a leadership opportunity and eschewed boilerplate text to create a one-minute video that explains its privacy policy in clear non-legal language.

Shifting consumer behaviors and technology innovation deprive marketers of equilibrium

Content creation is another example. Content is a valuable currency of marketing, yet it is still a largely manual process with costly bottlenecks and supply hiccups even though machine learning can now deliver high-quality content in a fraction of the time and cost. IBM used artificial intelligence to assist with its content creation, cutting the time needed to produce a commercial-ready horror movie trailer from nearly 24 days to 24 hours.

“Shifting consumer behaviors and technology innovation deprive marketers of equilibrium,” says Charles Golvin, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner for Marketers. “Recovering that equilibrium will require organizational alacrity, a laser focus on customer needs and a balanced embrace of automation.”

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Behavioral changes: Convenient and cool, but not creepy, please

Voice interfaces continue to improve and consumers have embraced the technology. They use voice commands — whether in their home, car, office, or out and about — to get tips and advice as they would from a human.

At the same time, consumers are concerned about how marketers might exploit these interactions and where their utterances are stored. In December 2018, an Amazon customer downloaded over 1,700 voice recording files of a stranger who used the Alexa personal assistant. News outlets were able to identify and contact the stranger. Nonetheless, consumers are ravenous for video content and new consumption formats.

Regulatory pressure: The (GDPR) genie is out of the bottle

The shift from analog to digital advertising powered marketers’ obsessive focus on customer data and rewarded companies most adept at converting that data into intelligence and action. Consumer advocates reacted badly to this new reality, which helped to promote headlines of data-powered overreach and missteps. Regulators have responded with restrictions that threaten to neutralize common marketing practices. Marketing leaders now recognize that the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the first instance of a regulatory wave that is spreading globally.

Brands around the world cannot afford to apply yesterday’s models, but instead must take a proactive, transparent stance on privacy

Heading into 2019, regulatory pressure and consumer privacy demands are built on a foundation of (dis)trust. Yet what consumers want and expect is more confusing than ever. For instance, the Gartner L2 Intelligence Report on Data and Targeting found that 50% of consumers in the U.K. and U.S. are generally not willing to give up their personal data — but 47% also believe it’s “helpful” to receive recommendations based on browsing history.

Brands around the world cannot afford to apply yesterday’s models, but instead must take a proactive, transparent stance on privacy if they want to reap the rewards of sophisticated, targeted marketing.

Organizational shifts: Be careful what you wish for

CEOs, CFOs and other executives are intensifying their scrutiny of marketing analytics and customer experience (CX) investments. Marketers’ unquenchable appetite for data creates an acute need for new analytical talent with the skills to extract insights from vast amounts of data. But these high-demand roles are misaligned to the critical needs of marketing teams.

Based on the Gartner 2018 Marketing Analytics survey, nearly half of marketing leaders surveyed said some of their most expensive and experienced analysts and data scientists spend their time preparing data to be analyzed rather than analyzing the data. Amid increased scrutiny by executives, analytics teams on average ballooned from a couple of people to 45 full-time employees (FTEs) in a few short years. In parallel, marketers are embracing CX as a guiding company virtue, which has spurred investments in a diversity of CX initiatives.

Disruptive automation: Get comfortable marketing with machines

Machine intelligence has become a core functional element of nearly every category of marketing technology. Vendors promise their AI solutions will yield increases in marketer efficiency and deliver optimal communications to prospects and customers at the moment of maximum influence.

Automation continues to find its way into new areas, and these incursions will have a disruptive impact on what members of the marketing team — and their partners — do and how they do it. The rise of programmatic and atomic content marketing and customer data platforms exemplify how marketers have already put automation and machine learning to use to improve marketing outcomes and customer experiences.

Read more: 12 Disruptive Technology Trends That Impact Marketing Strategy

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Gartner for Marketers clients can read more in Predicts 2019: Marketing Seeks a New Equilibrium by Charles Golvin.

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