Almost Timely News, 17 April 2022: Future of Digital Marketing, Analytics Maturity (4/17) :: View in Browser

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Almost Timely News, 17 April 2022: Future of Digital Marketing, Analytics Maturity
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What’s On My Mind: The Future of Digital Marketing

My friend Ramon Ray asked a question the other day about the future of digital marketing and listed out a long list of things like Web3, NFTs, cookieless futures, etc. and wanted to know what we all though the future of digital marketing looked like. I’m hesitant to use individual technologies when thinking about the future. Instead, I tend to think about what we as people want, what we as people are going to experience, and what makes companies money.

Let’s start with some obvious macro trends. People have become accustomed to, and expect universally, access to the Internet through a supercomputer they carry around on their person. 15 years ago, Apple introduced the iPhone. It had a 412 Mhz ARM 11 processor, up to 16 GB of internal memory, a single 2 MP camera, and GSM connectivity. Today, Apple’s iPhone 13 Pro Max offers a 6 core CPU at 3.23 Ghz, a 5 core GPU, multiple 12 MP cameras, and 5G connectivity.

To give you a sense of scale, today’s iPhone is more than 15x faster, and the Internet speeds are 15,625 times as fast. These absurd advances are why we say the world is mobile-first now in marketing and user experience – not because marketing wants it to be, but because our customers are literally carrying around supercomputers every day – and expect every digital experience to match the power of the hardware they operate.

Rather than retreat inside a virtual world, we are transforming the real world around us into a computing environment. Our phones are our hybrid interfaces to both worlds; Google Lens can look at a leaf or flower and tell you what kind of plant it is, or translate a sign or a conversation in real-time.

Second, all this ubiquitous, always-on power means we expect absolutely frictionless experiences. Again, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. Mega-merchants like Amazon now make it so easy and frictionless to shop that you can yell out loud in your home without ever leaving your couch and order a crate of toilet paper or Ukrainian pickles.

Our tolerance for friction in transactions of any kind has dramatically decreased. Customers perceive wait times for anything as intolerable, and convenience beats loyalty. When the competition is one tap of an app away, you have to bring your A-game every moment of every day. Search engines like Google return knowledge to us in the blink of an eye – and that’s the standard we all have to meet.

Third, artificial intelligence is rewiring our brains. The most powerful, barely-seen technology shaping everything in our heads is the recommendation engine. From movies and shows to social media posts to merchandise, AI is governing how we experience the world. Every time you see a recommendation given to you by something non-human, there’s a good chance that AI is involved in the process. That power can be used for good and evil alike; the power of recommendation engines has killed millions of people by showcasing fake news and disinformation about things like masks and COVID-19 vaccines, causing people to believe incorrect information and not accept life-saving medicine. (to be clear, masks work and COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective) AI is a hidden intermediary that works through our pocket supercomputers and governs our behaviors.

Thus, we prioritize several key things as consumers, as a population. We like cheap, but we really like and expect fast. We expect frictionless experiences. We display a shocking acceptance of whatever machines recommend to us because artificial intelligence is ultimately helping us think less and still get what we want.

Now, through those lenses, evaluate all the major technologies and trends people are promoting. Let’s take NFTs for example. Are they a fast, mobile-first experience? Sort of. A lot of the app ecosystems around NFTs are still very immature. Are they frictionless? Good heavens no. They’re the opposite of frictionless. They’re a pain to buy because you have to buy a cryptocurrency first and then find an exchange and jump through hoops to acquire them. Do they help you think less? Also most definitely not. Thus, as it stands right now, NFTs are a curiosity and not something to bake into your marketing plans.

What about the cookieless future? Will that impact mobility? No, not really. What about frictionless transactions? It will slow them down for a period of time, but first-party cookies will largely remain unaffected for a while. What will take time for marketers to adjust to is working with less personal data and more with behavioral data – but the savviest marketing organizations will race to adopt behavior-based AI to mitigate these problems – and that in turn will help us create those recommendations consumers love.

Look at every proposed trend and technology through the lenses of mobility, frictionless interactions, and making consumers think less. Machines and technologies are advancing at incredible rates, developing powerful new capabilities, but the flesh and blood humans at the end of the value chain haven’t changed much at all. Align yourself with the things that the humans want, and evaluating up and coming trends and technologies becomes much easier.

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ICYMI: In Case You Missed it

Besides the new Search Console course I’m relentlessly promoting (sorry not sorry), I would recommend reading the piece I did on advancing your analytics maturity.

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Events I’ll Be At

Here’s where I’m speaking and attending. Say hi if you’re at an event also:

  • Spark.me Social Media, June 2022, Montenegro
  • MarTech Conference, June 2022, virtual
  • MAICON, August 2022, Cleveland, OH – use code PENN150 for $150 off any conference ticket
  • MarketingProfs B2B Forum, October 2022, Boston

Events marked with a physical location may become virtual if conditions and safety warrant it.

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Required Disclosures

Events with links have purchased sponsorships in this newsletter and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

Advertisements in this newsletter have paid to be promoted, and as a result, I receive direct financial compensation for promoting them.

My company, Trust Insights, maintains business partnerships with companies including, but not limited to, IBM, Cisco Systems, Amazon, Talkwalker, MarketingProfs, MarketMuse, Agorapulse, Hubspot, Informa, Demandbase, The Marketing AI Institute, and others. While links shared from partners are not explicit endorsements, nor do they directly financially benefit Trust Insights, a commercial relationship exists for which Trust Insights may receive indirect financial benefit, and thus I may receive indirect financial benefit from them as well.

Thank You!

Thanks for subscribing and reading this far. I appreciate it. As always, thank you for your support, your attention, and your kindness.

See you next week,

Christopher S. Penn


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