The future of marketing in a virtual, ad free, notification based world

Marketers are constantly being challenged to keep abreast of digital (technological) opportunities to help shape and disrupt the customer experience. In this blog we highlight some of these opportunities and implications for how marketing needs to build its capabilities.

Marketing was certainly unsettled by the onset of digital, but as the current crop of transformational technologies and business models mature, it appears that marketing has been lucky. The majority of its principles and golden rules have endured and rather than the feared revolution of a few years ago, the challenge is one of evolution, of ensuring that Digital is the air that marketing breathes whilst also capitalising on the inherently disruptive nature of the digital age we’re working within.

The difference in the latest disruption marketing faces is that new technologies are not only disrupting in their own right, they are also forming ecosystems with other technologies (new and old) to have even more impact. These ecosytems challenge industry models and can change the remit of the marketing function.

Social Markets are one example of this. The coming together of distinct yet mature social communities around shared, cloud-based, workflows has opened up a wealth of opportunities. Take Naked Wines as an example. Naked Wines pulls together a community of consumers (people wanting great wine) and a community of producers (people realising their life’s ambition to own a vineyard) around a functionality that allows them to help each other out. Airbnb did the same for travel accommodation and Houzz is doing it for home decoration. In each case, entirely new user experiences and purchase journeys have been created that completely disrupt pre-existing, established models.

The capabilities required by the customer-centred marketer now, are about spotting the growing potential of new technologies and recognising how they can enhance the entire customer experience. It requires curiosity, courage and conscious speed.

So what could your new customer experience look like? Consider some of the current trends:

  • Virtual and Augmented Reality will become mainstream as headsets start to retail for under £200, or come ‘free’ with our next smartphone. Gartner is predicting that 25 million virtual reality headsets will be in use by 2018 and Facebook’s purchase of Oculus Rift in 2014, along with Google’s Cardboard (and Glass V2) and Microsoft’s HoloLens. How can your experience become “heads-up”?
  • The current crisis around ad-blocking on mobile devices, driven by Apple as a competitive pitch against Google, and the increasing evidence that, data-driven, programmatic ad-serving is too invasive for consumers, is going to drive a drastic overhaul of mobile advertising models. How will you attract new customers in a mobile environment?
  • The growth in personal assistants such as Google Now, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Echo will start extracting the valuable content from our Apps, websites and social presence to offer personalised, notification based services. Undermining traditional search models, this also threatens to divorce valuable content from the full brand experience. How will you maintain brand presence when Amazon’s Echo simply reads out loud from your website?
  • The Social Media giants will continue their march towards becoming messaging-based, media environments. Facebook’s announcement that ‘Engagement should not be a campaign goal ’ and its increasing focus on providing ‘reach’ for its corporate clients should trigger many marketers to review their social, content and native advertising strategies.
  • The current explosion of technologies in fintech will see the ‘Buy-it-Now’ button pop up everywhere. Facilitating entirely new shopper journeys and the ability to abridge current ones, as demonstrated by Mondelez’s ‘Shoppable Ads’ or NetSet’s social shopping, shopping will be released from the confines of ecommerce sites and become prevalent across all online experiences.

The coming challenge for marketing departments is going to be about crafting compelling customer-centred experiences that balance a multitude of diverse, interdependent, changeable factors. Marketers need to strengthen some core abilities: firstly the ability to envisage the optimum journey or experience for their customers, secondly the ability to orchestrate collaboration among a complex infrastructure of organisational silos, technologies, agencies and external channel partners in order to be able to deliver and thirdly to keep abreast of, and be able to change, all the moving parts within that environment with curiosity and conscious speed.

To succeed in this environment the marketer not only needs an organisation that is aligned to the delivery of the customer-centred experience, but also a new level of leadership skills that enables them to deliver the customer experience across and beyond the business. 

Brand Learning works with companies across the world to integrate digital into the capabilities of marketing, sales, HR and leadership teams. Find out more about what we do, and who we’ve worked with.

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