Consider these four recent announcements by Google.
- Tensorflow Lite: AI on every (Android) smartphone.
- Google Lens real-world camera search.
- Google AdWords in-store sales attribution.
- YouTube location-based extensions.
Do you see the connection, the thread that links these announcements together?
The Digital Real World
Today, our world is largely analog. While the smartphone has undeniably made the real world more digital, we still do an incredible amount of stuff that isn’t machine-assisted. The smartphone and various connected devices are slowly changing that:
- Most people are comfortable now with smartphone-powered GPS to the point where lots of folks don’t remember how to read physical maps.
- Digital assistants like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa have gained significant traction in homes and pockets.
- 90% of consumers do comparison shopping in-store on their phones.
With the tools and technologies announced at I/O 2017 and MarketingNext, its two most recent product announcement events, Google’s aim has been made clear: make the real world a searchable digital world in every domain, from consumer shopping to healthcare to conversation.
What Does This Mean for Marketers?
The days of digital marketing are numbered.
More specifically, the days of marketers drawing a distinction between digital and real world marketing are numbered. As technology continues to invade daily life, the distinction between digital and non-digital marketing will continue to fade.
At some point in the not too distant future, we’ll simply call it marketing again – no digital, no mobile, no social, because those attributes, those distinctions will be meaningless. In many ways, we are already well on the path:
- Mobile marketing is just marketing, from location-based advertising to local business SEO.
- Social marketing is just marketing, as social media, chat apps, and bots are significant sources of everyday conversation with people and brands we care about.
- Digital marketing is just marketing, because consumers access a sizable portion of the world through their phones.
What Should Marketers Do?
Be the best. The major tech providers continue to make life easier for our customers; this is both advantage and curse to marketers. Easier means easier customer acquisition, but it also means easier customer churn if our products and services aren’t the best for a given customer’s needs. We can gain or lose a customer with one tap in an app or one out-loud question to a smart assistant.
Use tools available today to patch holes in our marketing operations. With tools like Google Analytics, Google Optimize, Google Surveys, and now Google Attribution, we have no excuse for not knowing what’s wrong with our marketing and how to fix it.
Prepare for the digital real world. Consider just camera-based search as announced in Google Lens. Rebranding now means potentially having Google Lens’ real world search not understand that our logo is in a photo. We must consider the implications of everything we do in marketing in both the real world and the digital world, as they merge into one.
The future is already here. Are you ready?
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