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What Advertising Will Look Like In 2020

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What Advertising Will Look Like In 2020

  By   Tom Edwards, SVP of Digital Strategy and  Innovation

As a technology-centric digital marketer, I am constantly evaluating consumer adoption trends, tech startups, and  the latest in emerging platforms.  My goal is to align consumer behavior with relevant digital solutions that create value for my partner brand s.

We are in the midst of an innovation revolution, with a slew of new and  innovative companies and  startups vying to become the next big thing.  We are now more connected than ever, and  functions that used to require separate devices are now accessible simply through your phone.  Finally, we have seen exponential growth in terms of the sheer volume of data being created.

What advertising will look like in 2020

We are also in a state of constant bombardment about the future state of digital marketing.  Microsoft recently stated that the company believes by 2020 marketing departments will be reshaped to concentrate around three digital hubs: content, channels, and  data.

Where should marketers and  brand s place bets over the next five years?  What is hype over substance?  Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and  Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020.

This was a very interesting exercise, as my expectation was closely aligned to the idea that we would rally around five to 10 top-level topics, which are mainstream points of discussion.  After the first hour, we had identified 31 “territories” we felt were going to represent the next five years of digital marketing.

We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people and  more.  While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and  cons to impact and  feasibility.  The following are the top four territories we felt would be most relevant in five years.

Mobile plus wearables equals integrated mobile

Before we look forward with mobile, it is always helpful to take a quick look back.  With the launch of the first iPhone in 2007, we experienced a transformational shift, which has since changed the way we live our lives.

Generation 1 iPhone.

Prior to its launch, most mobile phones were just that — phones.  The iPhone was transformational, with simple emphasis on usability, utility, and  personalization via a robust app marketplace.

Heading towards 2020, we will experience another transformational shift in mobile.  This time, the transformation will be less about the hand set and  more about mobile-as-a-mindset — coming to life through a collection of integrated technologies, some virtual and  some physical, such as wearables.

The rise of integrated mobile will create a seamless physical-to-digital or “phydigital” ecosystem. From a marketing perspective, integrated mobile represents the next iteration of media-to-shelf.

Tesco virtual supermarket. South Korea.

A brand ‘s ability to connect with a consumer will primarily exist through mobile connections.  Such as when, based on consumers’ personal preferences, brand s provide contextual content that seamlessly transitions into serving a location-specific value.

Converged media and  mass customization

Traditional advertising shifts, combined with on-demand  behaviors, such as connected televisions, original brand ed entertainment, curated content, and  native advertising, all wrapped with mass customization, was an extremely hot topic of discussion with a majority of the team.

We have all seen the shifts in how media is consumed.  Fragmentation and  non-linear consumption will lead to more cohesive and  relevant networks to connect with consumers.  That sounds counterintuitive, but the fragmentation is an opportunity to reimagine connections with consumers in the near future.

Refined segmentation, based on usage and  self-selected behavior — overlaid with the core desire for discovery and  recommendations — will create signals and  new points of connection based on platform consolidation over the next five years.

We will see better connectivity between the brand ed entertainment being consumed and  the opportunity to personalize relevant and  contextual information, which is focused on creating a 1:1 connection with the consumer.

We will see the shift in terms of brand ed entertainment, as well as social platforms such as Facebook, now making a major strategic pivot towards a reach and  frequency model, which is built to provide incremental reach to television.  This shift is also predicated on the principle of lowering post frequency with a high rate of personalization through targeted media.

Here is a   whitepaper that I recently wrote outlining the full Facebook shift.

Internet of Things is now connected life

Another topic of interest to the team was the Internet of Things.  The term “Internet of Things” was coined in the mid ’90s and  may already be dated.  “Connected life” seems to be the leading cand idate to describe the next wave of interconnectivity.

You may have noticed the rise in intelligent home offerings, smart-grid enabled appliances, personal fitness devices, and  enhanced vehicle telematics.  All of this accessibility and  interconnectivity leads to more opportunities for marketers to create relevant, predictive connections with consumers.

This is both a blessing and  a curse for brand s and  marketers.  As the various connected devices communicate with one another during the course of the day, they may soon have the predictive capabilities to deliver products in near real-time based on personalized preferences.

When this happens, it may fundamentally shift our current thoughts about the five stages of the consumer buying process.  To recap, the current process is based on problem recognition or need state, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and  post-purchase behavior.

With a predictive model based on interconnected systems, marketers will need to focus more intently on brand  affinity to drive consideration, while also accounting for consumers having to take an additional step to proactively swap a product in an existing consideration set.

Accessibility and  interconnectivity throughout our everyday lives will be built on yottabytes (1 trillion terabytes) of personalized data, which will drive digital marketing significantly beyond rudimentary banners and  transform traditional thinking about digital marketing.


2014 and  2020 will be similar in that Google will still be incredibly relevant for digital marketers. Google is a key player in all of the previously discussed elements, such as mobile through Android, converged media through YouTube, mobile accessibility, connected life through Fiber, telematics and  autonomous vehicles, and  even wearables, with the continual evolution of products like Google Glass.

I am participating in the Glass Explorer program.

By serving as the curator of the open web, Google is not a portal such as Yahoo and  MSN of the past.  It’s not Facebook in terms of a closed platform that limits its footprint on the open web. Because of these factors, combined with the focus on innovation, Google will be an incredibly relevant marketing platform in 2020.

Its reach and  focus on innovation, as well as owning key waypoints of consumer interaction from search, will give Google’s YouTube and  Google+ the ability to focus on simplifying access to all properties through single sign-on.

After a recent meeting with the Google+ product team in NYC, it became very clear to me that the role of social in the Google ecosystem is less about the stream and  more about the interconnectivity of the ecosystem and  the ability to connect content where it is the most relevant for a consumer.

If I were a betting man, I would anticipate that Google’s staying power for the next five years, as well as the possible acquisition of other key discoveries and  curation platforms, will round out its ability to go beyond search-and -retrieval, such as Pinterest and  Evernote.  Remember, you heard it here first.

No one truly knows what the future holds or what digital marketing will look like in 2020, but based on 14 years of digital experience and  a strong track record of identifying substance over hype, I feel confident the Microsoft view of content, channels, and  data is accurate.  Integrated mobile, converged media, connected life, and  Google all represent the core digital hubs of content, channels, and  data — and  each will be relevant in 2020.

Follow Tom at   @BlackFin360