Quick take on what’s hot in digital right now

There’s a lot of noise in the marketing world, with industry players from all angles talking about what’s now and what’s next. What that in mind, I have some thoughts on the hottest topics that will be big bets for the near future:

    • AI

Once the stuff of science fiction, now part of the real world. Lots of commercial potential here, but how can this be best unlocked for consumers (and brands)? Current pathways to market are through tech companies, e.g. Amazon Alexa skills like Duplo stories or a Facebook chatbot. The real fun begins when digital is baked inside — which is a tough decision for companies to make, jumping off of a profitable s-curve into an unknown future. Tesla’s autopilot and Nest’s connected home give us hints, but for now we’ll just need to be satisfied with the A.I. we see in Westworld and hope that’s not what the world will become.

    • Voice

The evolution of human-computer interaction continues, from punch cards to keyboards, from mouse to touchscreen, and now from tactile to audio. The flip side of voice is that the microphones are always on, creating privacy concerns…but will consumers sell out their rights for convenience? Regardless of the outcome, it’s up to brands to do the right thing as this space evolves. Next step? Brain-to-computer connections. Yes, just like The Matrix.

    • Video

Moore’s law may not hold true like it used to and feature sets within mobile devices certainly seem to be plateauing. However, wireless bandwidth still has plenty of room for improvement (as does last mile connectivity), so video will continue to increase in importance as infrastructure improves. What’s critically important now is content and editorial — with unyielding watch-time algorithms, brands must capture attention as quickly as possible and hold attention like an eight second championship bull ride.

    • Personal data

GDPR is a huge current issue for brands and consumers are taking notice of the privacy policy updates they’re receiving from companies they forgot about years ago. In contrast example, the Cambridge Analytica situation highlights what can be done with personal data. Meanwhile, many marketers still struggle to attribute their efforts to sales. If a data-wielding company can influence the course of history, why can’t big budget brands figure it out?

    • Types of Reality

Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are all taking shape as affordable hardware finds its way to market. Most content focuses on education and entertainment; once connectivity use cases become more prevalent, we will find ourselves increasingly living and working in a virtual world. Ready player one?

Our operating environment is constantly changing; however, the pace of change seems to be slowing down — at least that’s my perspective from returning to the client-side and seeing opportunities from this side of the table over the past couple of years. Most initiatives that were recently considered innovative, particularly social media marketing, have moved into the mainstream. Today, the foundations are being established for a new wave of enterprise-shifting digital trends that require significant assets to create and capture value.

About that data…

Acxiom makes a compelling argument for retaining data for ad targeting — but will consumers care?

About the data
Acxiom’s AboutTheData site launches today. It’s an interesting look at what data the direct marketing company has on file for you; for a full backstory, read this New York Times article interviewing Acxiom CEO Scott Howe.

One of the most interesting data points from the NYT article: according to a Forrester Research survey, only 18% of web users have activated the “do not track” feature in their browser. For all of the chatter about data privacy, it seems that many users need a little less conversation and a little more action.

 

I took a look at my personal data and almost all of it is correct, based on public property records, credit reports, and magazine subscription surveys. The only piece that’s glaringly wrong is that Acxiom believes I still own a Volvo station wagon that I gladly traded in a couple years ago.

Acxiom allows consumers to opt-out of targeting, with this disclaimer: “Instead of receiving ads that are relevant to your interests, you will see more generic ads…For example, instead of…a hotel package in your favorite vacation spot, you might see an ad for the latest, greatest weight loss solution.” In other words, without targeting you’ll receive spam.

A compelling argument — but will consumers care?