The Technology Behind Black Friday Deals

Every marketer or web designer knows that a website has under three seconds to grab a users attention. Any form of friction will result in your target and audience going elsewhere. But, once again there is an increasing number of tools that are helping brands test the user experience of their digital products and services.

As our inboxes start to bulge with the deluge of marketing messages, many are already beginning to experience Black Friday fatigue. While marketers and business leaders pat themselves on the back for another successful campaign, tech-savvy consumers are creating mail rules to send any message containing “Black Friday” directly to their junk folder.

The problem is that customers now expect a little more than a generic email with Black Friday in the subject. The big question shoppers are asking is, what’s in it for me? If Netflix and Spotify know how entertainment preferences and Amazon knows what items we might want to buy, why are we still getting a marketing message containing products that we have little interest in?

Technology is now at the heart of every customer touch point. While consumers prepare to satisfy their insatiable desire for a bargain, the reputation of the world’s biggest brands is heavily reliant on technology.

For the busiest shopping day of the year to be a success, a website must work quickly and seamlessly without interruption. Digital audiences have little regard for how complex systems will work when faced with ten times more visitors. They just expect it to work.

Any break in connectivity or change in the speed of a transaction on an already overloaded website is catastrophic. Essentially, its the modern equivalent of bringing the shutters down of your store on the busiest day of the year. Behind the scenes, many have invested in content delivery networks (CDN) to reduce load times. But this is only one example of how technology is the real day of the day.

IBM AI Powered Ads

These rises in expectations from consumers are forcing marketers to think a little differently and embrace new technologies. For example, IBM recently announced that its latest AI-powered interactive ads will be used by LEGO Systems. The ads are aiming to recommend the right gift set to the right holiday shoppers using technology. Many brands will be watching from the sidelines to see if hyper-personalization and actionable insights can deliver tangible results rather than just more hype.

Lego is joining a long list of household names such as Lufthansa, Best Western, and TruGreen that are all bravely navigating unchartered digital waters to secure an early competitive advantage. Only time will tell if this emerging technology impacted their Black Friday sales.

71% of brands are still relying on generic marketing messages. But there is a realization in the industry that they need to do something different to stand out from the advertising clutter online. The problem is that we are only just learning how these new technologies can make the dream of personalized, targeted messaging across every touchpoint a reality.

Eye Level Is Buy Level

Every marketer or web designer knows that a website has under three seconds to grab a users attention. Any form of friction will result in your target and audience going elsewhere. But, once again there is an increasing number of tools that are helping brands test the user experience of their digital products and services.

H&M turned to Tobii Pro Sprint’s eye tracking platform to create a clear path of purchase for online shoppers and to validate design decisions on their site. The company are also using similar eye-tracking technology on online banking portals, music, and video streaming services, work portals, and believe it can transform any digital product or service

By tracking eye movements when testing websites, businesses can discover how users visually navigate the digital interface. The platform not only highlights what our eyes notice or what they ignore, but also areas where users encounter friction points as well as the things they see or ignore, the areas they get stuck on, and where they naturally gravitate to.

The eye tracking company are on a mission to ensure that technology works in harmony alongside natural human behavior. The technology enables companies to pinpoint potential causes or indicators of usability issues when working on software applications and websites.

The use of smartphones to make purchases online in the holiday season is unsurprisingly up 44% compared to last year. Welcome to a new digital age of the always-on mobile shopper. Digital natives are increasingly checking their mobile devices for bargains throughout the day.

Shoppers are increasingly attracted by discounts, sales, personalization and the convenience of doing it all from their mobile device in any location. How marketers leverage technology to create unique mobile experiences that deliver these minimum requirements is paramount.

Delivering the wow factor and remaining online will determine how successful retailers are during the holiday season. Meanwhile, marketers are faced with both challenges and opportunities of how to engage with the always-on customer without being creepy.

Adobe Cloud Integrating Magento: Personalized, Experience-Driven Commerce Just Became a Thing

Adobe announced they are integrating Magento commerce cloud into the Adobe Experience Cloud at MagentoLive in Barcelona. What does this mean? Adobe will make every experience personal while Magento is making every moment Shoppable.

Magento has developed a reputation over the years as a shining example of what an open source community-driven development team should look like. Interestingly, much of its code originates from developers that are not even on the payroll.

However, this was always the point. It is less about where the code comes from and much more about improving the quality to enhance the service of its clients. There is an argument that the e-commerce giant has enjoyed massive success on the back of their community rather than being held back by internal processes like their competitors.

Many members of the community were understandably concerned that things would change when Magento was acquired by Adobe earlier this year for a cool $1.68 billion. While the global community debated what the new partnership would mean, an announcement at MagentoLive in Barcelona earlier this week attempted to ease any fears.

The Heart and Soul of Magento in Barcelona

Refreshingly, there isn’t a separate user and developer conference, the event encourages collaboration between the community, clients, and sponsors all under one roof. Despite the acquisition by a tech behemoth, from what I saw, the vibrant community is still the heart and soul of Magento.

Predictably, all bases in the customer journey are now being covered as Adobe announced they are integrating Magento commerce cloud into the Adobe Experience Cloud. In a nutshell, Adobe customers that have access to marketing, advertising, and analytics services will now be able to seamlessly add a shopping cart to their digital presences too.

Adobe makes every experience personal while Magento is making every moment Shoppable

Ironically, it’s the rising expectations of customers that are driving these changes rather than the tech giants. Whether it be offline and or online, the quality of the customer experience is rapidly becoming the new battleground for businesses looking to secure quick wins with engagement and loyalty being the ultimate prize.

Engagement Across the Full Customer Journey

In acquiring Magento, Adobe has secured access to every step of the customer journey and is making it easier for brands of all sizes to create engaging experiences. The speed of change is gathering pace, and everyone is expected to continuously adapt and move forward. But will big businesses struggle to keep up the pace when their legacy systems continue to hold them back?

The innovations we are bringing to market enable companies of all sizes and across industries to make every experience shoppable

In the same way that Blockbuster Video, Kodak, Polaroid and Borders failed to tackle digital disruption, I cannot help but think that we are heading for another showdown where household names will once again disappear. Our internet history has already taught us that no brand is too big to big to fail.

There is already a long list of big brands that users have fallen out of love with. Facebook, Electronic Arts, Sears Holdings, United Airlines, and even former tech darling Uber have all suffered a rough year. In many ways, they have become easy pickings for competitors to move in and provide superior experiences.

The experience curve is changing – it’s the new Moore’s law. – Shantanu Narayen

In a year of significant acquisitions, Adobe is leading the way in the experience industry by managing more than 233 trillion data transactions and $141 billion in online sales transactions annually. Make no mistake, experiences are not just another buzzword. It’s big business.

The Right Kind of Personalized Experiences

“If it moves, personalize it, and if it doesn’t, customize it anyway,” is a trap that a few could fall into. If done right, tools such as Adobe Target, powered by Adobe Sensei, which uses AI and machine learning could efficiently deliver contextually relevant shopping experiences.

Brands should find it much easier to drive customer loyalty and enable businesses to compete more effectively. Although personalized experiences make our lives easier and more efficient, you can still have too much of a good thing.

For example, there are occasions that I want to go rogue and look outside of what algorithms recommend for me. Whether it be on Netflix, reading an entire magazine or browsing through bookshelves, those happy accidents in life that lead to great discoveries are an experience that is equally as important.

I suspect that it’s the brands that get this fine balance right will be the ones that succeed. But, in a digital age, I doubt that the size of the business will not determine their success, it will be the experience they provide.

How Blockchain Is Beginning to Increase Customer Loyalty

Customer acquisition vs. retention is a debate that has continued to rage for decades. But in a digital age of personalized experiences, customer loyalty is once again a very hot topic and many of the biggest brands are turning to blockchain technology. Now some of the biggest airlines are replacing Airmiles with crypto.

According to Forrester Research, most online retailers invest around 80% of their online marketing budgets on acquiring new customers. However, most people reading this already know that it costs five times more to secure a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Customer acquisition vs. retention is a debate that has continued to rage for decades. But in a digital age of personalized experiences, customer loyalty is once again a very hot topic, and an increasing number of companies are turning to blockchain to finally disrupt and bring the loyalty business into the 21st century.

Although it could be described as the epitome of first world problems, many of us don’t want to download an app on our smartphone for every airline we travel on. We have unwittingly created a never-ending list of exchanging points from a myriad of program partners and it’s cumbersome at best, and it shouldn’t be. Thankfully, there seems to be a wind of change in the air and blockchain technology is already beginning to prove it’s much more than another buzzword.

Airline Loyalty Programs Go Crypto

When thinking of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, you could be forgiven for thinking of pie in the sky projects built on empty promises that never come to fruition. But, maybe we should be thinking differently, especially now that Singapore Airlines is introducing a blockchain-based loyalty program and even replacing its air miles with cryptocurrency.

It seems that we are moving into a phase of real-world adoption and although this technology is still in its infancy. We are looking at the radical transformation of traditional loyalty programs as we know them. The current system does not work and is leaving many people with a strong sense of loyalty program fatigue.

What if Blockchain could provide a frictionless system that was both cost-effective for both brands and customers. It would be much easier to increase engagement if you could store all of your collected points in a singular digital wallet. The good news is that this could be one of the many reasons why some of the worlds most prominent airlines are replacing air miles with crypto.

In July, Singapore airlines launched KrisPay and proudly declared that it was the world’s first blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet. The technology behind the new system was developed in collaboration with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft.

“By creating a miles-based digital wallet which integrates the use of miles into their daily lives, KrisFlyer members have yet another way to use miles instantly on everyday transactions.”
—Singapore Airlines CEO, Mr. Goh Choon Phong.

The Blockchain Loyalty Platform Happy Hour

Elsewhere, qiibee, the decentralized blockchain-based loyalty ecosystem, is aiming to provide a loyalty platform and developer interface on which every loyalty application can be tokenized. But, it is attempting to revolutionize the loyalty industry and refreshingly not with promises of technological innovations, but with partnerships and real-world adoption.

Germany´s leading cocktail bar and restaurant chain, Sausalitos is already on board rolling out a new loyalty program. Elsewhere in Europe, Swiss coffee brand Lattesso is also releasing a blockchain-powered loyalty program on the qiibee ecosystem, but this is just the beginning.

Italian Retail Association Confimprese recently formed a strategic partnership that will bring together relationships with some of the world’s most renowned brands across multiple industries. Confimprese’s members include KFC, Disney, Pandora, and petrol station network Agip, with over 6,000 points of sale in Italy.

Although it’s unclear at the moment at which brands will be taking part, the Swiss loyalty token protocol is already helping brands around the world run their loyalty programs on the blockchain. But, this is just a handful of examples of how customer loyalty programs are on course for inevitable transformation.

“Customers worldwide are familiar with air mile programs and loyalty points, and although these are important practices for retailers and brands, customers are limited and restricted in how they can utilize their points and rewards. Now Lattesso customers will be able to exchange their loyalty points for cryptocurrencies from their smartphones.”
—Gabriele Giancola, Co-founder, and CEO of qiibee.

There are many more examples of how the worlds biggest brands are beginning to rethink customer loyalty using blockchain. Now that we all know that it’s merely a decentralized ledger that is unchangeable and fully transparent, maybe the buzzword itself can be retired so that the tech can become invisible.

By providing greater transparency to consumers and more control over their loyalty programs to improve the customer experience. Early indicators suggest that loyalty points will eventually be replaced by tokens that enable users to transfer between friends or redeem for purchases.

It will take several years for this technology to truly enter the mainstream, but with the world’s biggest airlines already embracing it, maybe the future is much closer than any of us realize.

Why Billboards Are Playing a Big Part in Digital Marketing

From Sunset Boulevard in L.A. to London here in the U.K.; the traditional billboard is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with advertisers, marketers and consumers. The billboard might be the descendant of one the oldest forms of human advertising, but the format is embracing its new role in a digital age.

It recently came to my attention that from Sunset Boulevard in L.A. to London here in the U.K.; the traditional billboard is experiencing a resurgence in popularity with advertisers, marketers and consumers. The billboard might be the descendant of one the oldest forms of human advertising, but the format is embracing its new role in a digital age.

Outdoor advertising is proving to be the perfect partner for social, and a company called Dash Two have carved out a niche as experts in both the physical and digital realms of advertising. As social media platforms tweak their algorithms and users arm their pop up blockers, many brands are finding that nobody is seeing their ads.

When I asked Dash Two founder and CEO, Gino Sesto why we are seeing this advertising evolving in this way, he advised “Outdoor advertising is a big thing because it’s tangible. Digital is intangible. With a social media post, you might see it or you might not. It comes and goes.”

The arrival of social media and its culture of artfully curated vanity has created a wealth of opportunities for billboards as brands search for new ways to bring outdoor advertising and digital together. Sure, many of us are permanently face down looking at the screens of our smartphones, to think about looking up at a soulless billboard that contains a stock photo image and slogan. But, this is why marketers need to get more creative.

A great example was the build-up to Lady Gaga’s performance at the Coachella Festival. The team at Dash Two found a local liquor store that was close to the event. They approached the owner and asked if they could put a big mural on their store with the promise that they would put the store on the map and drive Lady Gaga fans directly to their store.

When Coachella, started Lady Gaga posted on her Instagram and Twitter directing her fans to visit the liquor store and take a picture in front of the mural to get a free t-shirt. Gaga didn’t have to ask people to share it socially, her fans rushed to the area to capture the perfect Instagram moment and bragging rights that they were there.

Hundreds of people lined up to grab their picture and the images were shared thousands of times online. As for the store owner, he kept the mural up for a year after the festival as it continued to organically grow and put their store on the map.

Outdoor advertising is completely tangible, you can see it, touch it, take photos of it and share it online. An increasing number of artists and brands are turning their back on traditional ads and creating a destination and an experience. There is no one size fits all approach, but against the odds, physical ads coupled with digital media are proving to be the perfect partnership.

There are many other examples, where even online companies such as Netflix are combining the best of both worlds to deliver their message. In a digital mobile-first world, it seems that one of the oldest forms of media can teach the new kid on the block a thing or two about capturing the attention of consumers both offline and online.

Do you have any examples of how digital and physical marketing can compliment each other and create shareable Instagrammable experiences or moments?

AI: Why Marketers Need to Look Beyond the Buzzword

Tech trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain have become unavoidable on our news feeds. However, if we move away from the buzzwords, there are an increasing number of real-world examples of how AI is transforming marketing and living up to its game-changer promise.

Here in 2018, it is almost impossible to avoid tech trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain in our newsfeeds. Every headline promises that one of these latest buzzwords will either transform your business, industry or lead us to some sort of tech dystopia where the machines will rule the earth.

In a digital world where everything is exaggerated or sensationalized to get quick hits, it’s easy to see why so many of us are beginning to suffer from tech fatigue. Every new solution promises to be faster and smarter than the one before, but can these technologies really transform marketing? If we look closer, early indicators suggest they already are. But first, we need to clear up a few things.

What Is AI and How Did We Get Here?

Much of the confusion and tech fatigue is caused by artificial intelligence being used as an umbrella term for other technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and deep learning, which are a subset of AI.

There is also a great deal of misinformation online about machines thinking and making decisions as humans do, which is incredibly misleading and ultimately untrue. The reality is that machines learn from systems and processes that are programmed by humans, so our destiny is still very much in our own hands.

In marketing, our love affair with buzzwords began with big data where businesses captured as much information as they could, only to discover that they didn’t know what to do with it all. This evolved into predictive analytics, and eventually, we mixed it all together, and new solutions appeared run by those that refer to themselves as “AI” companies.

However, the reason marketers and industry experts are getting so excited about AI is that it’s paving the way for the industry to progress beyond data analysis and advance into data generation. Marketers no longer have to endure the time-consuming task of manually categorizing or describing various types of data-rich media such as voice and video.

For these reasons alone, AI and the subset of technologies it relies on are much more than buzzwords; they are game changers in every sense of the word. Enhanced analytics are already helping marketers to adopt a proactive rather than reactive mindset. How they analyze real-time data from a variety of platforms and devices enables them to target audiences with unique personalized experiences.

Looking to the future, these customer experiences will elevate their expectations to an unprecedented level and become the standard. Amazon’s one-click basket was only the beginning, and we can now order an Uber, secure a Tinder date, Netflix movie, and romantic soundtrack with a couple of swipes. It’s easy to see how those AI-driven experiences makers will quickly gain a competitive advantage.

Email Marketing

There is already a wealth of tools such as Bluecore and Custora that enable marketers to learn from their customers’ past behavior and anticipate what they will buy both now and in the future. But capturing the attention of consumers has never been more difficult.

Many of us awake in the morning and reach for our smartphone to see how many emails we can delete before starting our day. Email marketers across the globe are turning to AI to answer some of their most significant questions; for example, when they should send an email, how they should personalize it for the recipient, and how they can get consumers to not only open the message but respond to the campaign.

According to Constant Contact, the average open rate for retail emails is 12%, and the clickthrough rate is 8%. Unsurprisingly, AI can drastically improve email marketing results by interpreting consumer data and treating a consumer as the unique individual that each is, rather than just a demographic or job title.

Content Marketing

Consumers are creating more data points than ever before across a myriad of online devices. This raw data reveals behavior and engagement trends that enable marketers to deliver relevant content that resonates with their target audience.

Sophisticated technology provides straightforward answers to exactly where loyal customers and brand advocates are engaging the most. The answers to these questions make it much easier to deliver relevant content in the right place, on the right device, and at the right time.

AI tools such as Lucy, which is powered by IBM Watson, are already helping brands transform their content strategies. A combination of cognitive computing and natural- language processing gives marketers more effective analyses to form revolutionary content strategies. Forget buzzwords; these tools are already providing real business results and applications for 21st-century marketers.

The Rise of Voice Search

Although we have invested our time and resources into perfecting the SEO on our website, our digital habits are changing how we interact with brands. The smart speakers in our homes and the smartphone in our pockets are beginning to set us free from the screen to find a company and buy a product using our voice rather than our fingers.

Welcome to the world of conversational AI that is powered by an increasing list of digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Google, and Cortana. The shifts in user behavior prompted ComScore to predict that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches.

Food for thought?

As users get more comfortable with interacting with branded content using their voice, businesses looking to regain their competitive advantage will need to rise to the challenge of creating new experiences for their customers on AI devices.

Get on the Bus, or Get Left Behind

As AI and its subset technologies continue to evolve at breakneck speed, marketers should be focusing on the art of the possible and meaningfully engaging with their customers.

There are already countless real-world examples of how legacy companies are leveraging AI with fantastic results. For instance, TGI Friday’s used AI marketing to increase its revenue by $150 million in only 12 months and tripled customer engagement without breaking a sweat.

Elsewhere, eBay has been using machine learning (ML) for more than a decade but has now added AI, and as a result, has boosted its sales volume by over than $1 billion per quarter. These are real-world examples of brands taking an early competitive advantage; how long can you choose to ignore the signs before getting left behind?

Our brief online history is already littered with hard-luck stories from household names such as Blockbuster video, Kodak, and Polaroid that failed to adapt to embrace digital disruption and changes in consumer behavior.

Maybe it’s time for marketers to take AI seriously after all.

 

Why Campaign Monitor Has Merged With Emma and Delivra

Campaign Monitor recently revealed that it is merging with email marketing software providers Emma and Delivra. What spurred this decision? What will the merger mean for email marketers? And why email marketing is evolving far beyond opens, clicks and conversions.

2017 was a relatively quiet year for acquisitions and mergers. But it seems that the speed of change is ramping up this year as a brave new digital world begins to take shape. Microsoft has acquired GitHub for $7.5 billion, a decision which disappointed the developer community. Elsewhere, Adobe announced plans to acquire Magento Commerce for a cool $1.68 billion.

However, in matters much closer to home, the email marketing landscape is also about to evolve with Campaign Monitor revealing that it is merging with email marketing software providers Emma and Delivra. Essentially, Campaign Monitor is going to become the parent brand under an umbrella that encompasses both Emma and Delivra.

Rather than having three siloed platforms, the move will pave the way for a family of products and offer unique value by having all of the services under one roof. But, what will Campaign Monitor’s new suite of email marketing solutions look like? And what value will they offer marketers?

  • Campaign Monitor: This market-leading self-service brand focuses on delivering a better experience compared to freemium brands, with a primary focus on high volume email senders trying to drive more engagement with subscribers. With its easy to use marketing tool, marketers are able to send beautiful, targeted newsletters to grow their business.
  • Emma: Emma’s solution makes it easy for teams of all sizes to create and collaborate on beautiful campaigns. Its focus on delivering powerful personalization in an accessible way ultimately drives more conversions and sales. Emma also allows distributed business or franchised organizations to manage professional email marketing at scale.
  • Delivra: Delivra offers custom email marketing and automation solutions designed to meet the unique needs of every customer. Its service-centric model focuses on building more sophisticated, custom email solutions for businesses who have advanced email marketing needs but lack the resources to support it.

What’s Going on in the Email Industry? And What Spurred This Decision?

Campaign Monitor Chief Product Officer Cody Bender told me that one of the biggest motivations for the merger was that Insight Venture Partners back the three businesses. There was an epiphany of sorts that despite this, they were all competing for similar space in the market.

Rather than chasing the same part of the market, talking to the same customers and fighting over the same pieces of pie, could there be a more forward-thinking approach that could transform what they offer their customers? The end goal was to be better at serving email marketers by simply not fighting each other and working together to pick the spaces where all three of their products worked together as one enhanced solution.

How does the merger position the new entity among other tools?

The team at Campaign Monitor would probably admit that they are not in the same league as Adobe and Salesforce just yet. But there is a realization that they are flying higher than the MailChimp’s of the world comfortably in a mid-market position. The challenge for email marketers is to embrace and understand how they can leverage this comprehensive suite of tools across three SaaS platforms

What will the merger mean for email marketers?

In my conversation with Cody, he also advised that it’s about improving experiences for marketers and their results. But it’s also about enabling them to better at their craft. As email marketers grow in sophistication, their role is evolving far beyond opens, clicks, and conversions. The merger is aimed at helping marketers to start getting into the nuts and bolts of what’s going to drive improved results for their business.

Will other brands be joining this new family of platforms?

Cody admitted that he could easily see Campaign Monitor continuing to grow and hinted that the company would naturally look into picking particular market segments and aligning a product or a brand with them if it made sense.  There is a clear ambition to continue on the road ahead and to align the businesses with their diverse range of clients.

A joined-up approach will undoubtedly help their customers with their unique challenges and requirements. I would not be too surprised to see another addition to Campaign Monitors family in the future, but for the right reasons. As marketers are increasingly expected to deliver better results and experiences with less, it’s clear something has to change.

Will Campaign Monitor teaming up with EMMA and Delivra provide marketers with all the tools they need to drive engagement and revenue? Please share your thoughts on this latest merger by commenting below.

How AI and Blockchain Will Transform Marketing, Just Like the Internet Before It

In 1995, the Internet was widely considered to be a fad, but businesses that failed to evolve and adapt to a new digital world quickly disappeared. Could the combination of artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and cryptocurrencies be about to revolutionize marketing in the same way?

After recently watching a clip of a Bill Gates appearance on the David Letterman show in 1995, I was reminded of how our fear of technological change has altered very little in the last 28 years. As the Microsoft leader desperately tried to convey how the Internet would transform everything, both Letterman and the audience laughed and mocked the Microsoft founder.

It’s hard to imagine that in 1995, the Internet was widely considered to be a fad, but businesses that failed to evolve and adapt to a new digital world quickly disappeared. Substantial household names vanished from our lives almost overnight, but we all thought that they were too big to fail.

Here in 2018, we are witnessing the same attitudes towards artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and cryptocurrencies. However, make no mistake: These technologies will continue to evolve at breakneck speed and will transform every industry including marketing.

Sure, we are in the very early stages at the moment and only just beginning to comprehend the art of the possible. But as these advances in technology continue, every aspect of our world will change forever, and those that fail to keep up with the pace will quickly experience a fate similar to Blockbuster video.

Artificial Intelligence

Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang recently advised that “software is eating the world, but AI Is going to eat software.” But what does this mean for the marketing industry?

We are now living in a digital age where companies are automating how we discover products and services. Anyone who has used Spotify, Amazon, or Netflix will testify how personalized recommendations based on our engagement automatically raises their expectation levels. As a result, marketers will increasingly face pressure to tailor their product recommendations based on their consumers’ purchase history and reviews.

When I open my eyes in the morning, my first action is reaching for my phone to see how many generic emails I can delete, and I know that I am not the only one. AI solutions are already making it possible to offer hyper-personalized ads based on the individual preferences of users and serve them in the right context without being creepy, and right now, they are most relevant.

When this becomes the standard, what happens to marketers who cling to the generic campaigns from the past? Contrary to popular opinion, technology is not dehumanizing us at all; it is actually forcing marketers to treat customers as unique individuals rather than page views and clicks. This can only be a great thing, right?

Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Make no mistake: Blockchain and cryptocurrencies will transform the world as we know it. But you might be thinking, how will it impact marketing? Although it will take time for businesses to adapt and use the technology, it has the potential to eradicate intermediaries.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, users will have an opportunity to determine how much personal information they reveal in a new era of social responsibility. As a result, advertisers and marketers will need to earn trust rather than take it for granted.

There are already multiple marketing and advertising startups appearing in the blockchain space.  A new approach to tokenize user behavior through a cryptocurrency and create a new credit system to unite advertisers and the consumer could completely remove the need for middlemen that provide little in terms of value.

When thinking about the art of the possible, blockchain could easily enable brands to build trust directly with their customers. Could this pave the way for businesses to be less reliant on tech behemoths such as Google and Facebook? Only time will tell.

Tech, The Problem Solver

The marketing industry has a long list of problems that emerging technology could quickly remove. Whether it is payment processing, fraud prevention, measurement, or reporting, we can expect everything to become simplified and in many cases automated.

Technology is bringing greater trust and transparency to the global marketplace across every industry. Marketing is just a small part of this huge digital transformation of everything.

Ask yourself: What are the most significant pain points in marketing? What aspects of the current ecosystem are no longer fit for a digital age? And what value are complex processes or third-parties providing your business? These are the areas that technology will eradicate over the next five years.

As consumers, we can access anything our heart desires with a few swipes of our smartphone. We are all taking these expectations into the world of B2B and demanding the same level of experience. Those that fail to make it easier to do business and remove friction points will quickly fall out of favor.  So, isn’t it time that you embraced technological change rather than fear it?

Why Adobe Believes Digital Experiences Will Reshape Marketing

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, Adobe is encouraging businesses to build relationships, trust and deliver meaningful experiences. But, it’s AI that looks destined to transform the entire marketing industry.

Shantanu Narayen, Adobe’s CEO, has delivered his message that people buy experiences, not products to both U.S. and European audiences this year. Narayen also advised that products [aren’t the main] differentiator anymore. Companies are now competing for the hearts and minds of all customers and should aim to exceed their expectations at every point of the journey.

News that it’s less about the transaction and more about the relationship has given birth to “experience makers” who promise to bring this vision to life. Claire Cronin, the CMO of Virgin Atlantic, also waded into the experience factor by saying, “Tans fade, memories don’t.” However, the inconvenient truth is that business needs to use data to drive these experiences.

Data Privacy is Serious Business

Opinions of emerging technologies and how companies handle our personal information have radically changed in just a few months. Although this year’s summit has focused heavily on experiences, some might argue that Adobe appears to look at the world through the eyes of marketing rather than the consumer.

The elephant in the room is that we are now living in a post-Cambridge Analytica world where attitudes on both sides of the fence have evolved. It was no accident that before every keynote speech, the host advised that any data being used in their demo was fictitious. Everyone on stage and in the audience is now hyper-aware of their responsibilities around personal data.

On the one hand, consumers are demanding personalization and improved experiences with their rising expectation levels, but if a brand gets it wrong, they are deemed creepy. The responsibility of getting that balance right will leave many feeling both inspired and dejected in equal measure.

The nerves around GDPR and the hangover from recent events with Facebook will keep many treading carefully, but it should be seen as an excellent opportunity to master the art of customer centricity.

Adobe is on a mission to empower people to be creative and transform their business. But if you take your data outside of Adobe’s walled garden and into legacy solution, you could quickly run into problems.

Building Relationships and Trust is Crucial

As consumers, we are careful how much information we want to share with companies. Businesses need to understand that they need to build trust in the same way we build relationships with friends and colleagues. Nobody would ask a complete stranger a series of personal questions, so why should an online retailer?

However, we might be willing to share additional information with our favorite airline or entertainment venue if it improved our experience and there was already a relationship in place. There is no one size fits all, the consumer will determine how much or how little information they are willing to share based on the strength of their relationship.

Artificial Intelligence Will Revolutionize Marketing

The winning combination of AI and machine learning is already proving to be the most profound shift in computing we have seen for some time. While marketers have been focusing on leveraging a mobile-first age, it seems that we are now entering a new AI-powered world.

Complex workflows that have traditionally taken days or even weeks to complete will soon take minutes. The rising popularity of voice search and digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa is also changing the digital landscape. Sure, we need to question if voice control is practical or suitable in an office environment, but exploring the art of the possible will change everything.

The Rise of Voice Activation and Search

Do we need to continue clicking our mouse? Or are we finally evolving beyond touch when interacting with technology? Adobe’s vision of the future not only involves protecting and securing private data but also making the use of any solution quick and seamless. As we drift from device to device and increasingly use our voice to get what we want, technology is becoming invisible, and solutions just work.

Whether you are a rabble-rouser or wannabe experience maker, Claire Cronin, CMO, Virgin Atlantic, offered the best advice when she advised 5,000 European attendees why they need to embrace the speed of change. “It´s gonna stay and get faster. But let the customer be your compass.”

Get on the Bus, or Get Left Behind

Advances in technologies such AI, machine learning, blockchain, and voice search are coming at breakneck speed. But we also need to remember that the pace of change will never be as slow as it is today.

What will happen to businesses that failed to have an AI strategy or narrow the gap between ambition and execution? Laggards that continue to take weeks to perform tasks that their competitors can complete in minutes could quickly fall behind as a new digital marketplace continues to evolve.

Behind the numerous shiny new tech solutions and inspiring keynotes at Adobe Summits on both sides of the Atlantic, the inconvenient truth is that culture change is the most prominent barrier to providing unique customer experiences. How will businesses prepare for a business world where the relationship is more important than the transaction and the experience is more important than the product or service? Food for thought, indeed.