January 19, 2021

The Future of Marketing and Why 2021 Trends are Pointless

The Future of Marketing and Why 2021 Trends are Pointless

Written by: Marc Binkley, VP of Digital & Marketing StrategyWill this be the year that the machines at Skynet take over the marketing world, kill traditional mass marketing and only produce micro-influencer voice ads of mass personalization optimized for return on ad spend?Great questions, though, to be honest, impossible to accurately predict. Think back to January 1, 2020. None of us predicted our businesses would be locked down and we’d be working from home for nine months of the year. Let’s admit it. When it comes to predicting the future, we’re rarely better than monkeys throwing darts.Instead of forecasting what will be in 2021, I'd like to offer you an alternative view of the future. In the list below are my bets on where we can build momentum and a competitive advantage. It’s a list of areas that I’ll be investing my energy and resources in over the next three to five years. I think of these as big bets rather than 2021 predictions.All the same, here's my attempt at channeling my inner Nostradamus.

1. Digital marketing will die

How's that for a clickbait headline? More than 50% of media spend today is on digital channels like Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, Search, Programmatic, etc. As every year passes, more traditional mediums such as TV, out of home and radio get digital pipes to supply their content and digital interfaces to manage them. Thus, transforming traditional channels into, well, digital media. When most campaigns are managed through digital ad platforms, the easy money is on dropping the word digital from the phrase and eliminating the war between old and new. In the future, marketing will just be one again.

2. The Rise of Econometricians

Digital data is great at showing what happens, but not why it happens. This where economics can make a big contribution: it’s a mashup of data and behavioural science. The majority of traditional media channels have little to no measurement beyond impressions. Conversely, digital channels have all the measures the marketing world and data scientists could ever dream. And yet, business executives still don't have a better answer to the Wanamaker Dilemma than they did when Wanamaker claimed nearly 100 years ago that "50% of my advertising is wasted, trouble is, I don't know which half works."In the next few years, I'm betting there will be a shift away from dependence on Google and Facebook's self-reporting tools and a move toward econometricians measuring the incremental lift on business results from its marketing investments. Why econometricians? Because they’re equipped to study the behavioural drivers underlying the data. They can get the why of the what, and your strategy needs both.

3. Other departments will fund marketing budgets

Ecommerce has saved a lot of businesses this year. As Scott Galloway said, the world has moved decades in days. Scott points out that while it took 20 years for e-comm to grow to 15% of all retail, it took only a little more than 50 days to nearly double that. Increasingly, e-comm is a brand's single biggest store.

Graph showing years happening in weeks

My hunch is that executive teams will begin shifting operating budgets to fund what Dr. Grace Kite calls digital-signposts-like-affiliates, merchant centre ads such as dynamic product ads, product listing ads, Amazon, etc. These digital signposts bring traffic to the store in the same way that choosing a high-traffic location and storefront signage do. Marketing teams will then manage and report on two different budgets - demand capture (e-comm) and demand generation (brand activation).

4. The cream will (be trained to) rise to the top

Marketing is sophisticated and an essential department in an organization. If we are to change perceptions of marketing as an expense centre and marketers as the coloring department, we'll need to train them on the discipline of marketing.It's a bit of a throwback to the 4Ps of marketing (product, price, promotion and place), but I'm betting that we need to teach more marketers the language of business and the levers that move them. If we are to transform expense-centre advertisers into strategic-growth marketing-advisors; we'll need to educate teams on what drives behaviour and business results. I’m betting on an increase in attention on topics such as pricing strategy, promotional effectiveness, behavioral economics, market orientation, segmentation, targeting and positioning, market penetration, etc., and less focus on things like ad engagement, brand love, and micro-influencers.

5. Tactics will continue to evolve with consumer behaviour

Is 2021 the year of voice? Honestly, it doesn't matter because when it's a tool that marketers can meaningfully exploit as a means to influence consumer behaviour, we will. The same goes for autonomous vehicles, connected TV, semantic search, health targeting, etc.My bet here is that consumers have and always will continue to evolve. Good marketers always test and learn with the tools available to drive results. Keep an eye out for health-based targeting from data collected by Apple (iWatch) and Google (FitBit), Amazon (Halo).FitBit’s 10,000 steps has proven one of the decade’s best examples of brilliant marketing.Expect an onslaught of health advertising that targets people according to their body mass index or medical conditions such as high blood pressure or poor sleep patterns in need of better pillows, mattresses or all sorts of sleeping aids.In short, I don’t need to consult my crystal ball to predict that one of the most obvious marketing trends in 2021 will be the marathon of advertising opportunities that will come from the volume of health data about to become available from the latest fitness technology.What are your thoughts? Follow Anstice Communications on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to stay up-to-date.