2020: What can we ex­pect from Ad­ver­tis­ing & Mar­ket­ing?

More brands could move ad­ver­tis­ing in-house, and in­tro­duce au­toma­tion across so­cial and dig­i­tal net­works.

The Brand Reporter - - BY INVITATION - By Amit Ti­wari

We have come a long way since the days of the ‘Mad Men’ era when the ad agen­cies pretty much dic­tated and con­trolled brand com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Back then, a mar­ket­ing plan would cir­cle around print, ra­dio and tele­vi­sion only. It’s a dif­fer­ent world al­to­gether to­day. Nowa­days, we have so­cial me­dia, mo­bile de­vices, vir­tual re­al­ity, aug­mented re­al­ity, drones, wear­ables and so on.

A few years ago there was a lot of con­ver­sa­tion around big data – what it is, how we were go­ing to gather it etc. Now, as we inch closer to 2020, we slowly re­alise the mam­moth amount of big data that ma­chine learn­ing, In­ter­net of Things (IoT) and Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (AI) will bring. The more cus­tomers use tech­nol­ogy, the higher the amount of in­for­ma­tion and in­sights avail­able to be tapped and har­nessed.

By 2020, tar­geted ads based on de­mog­ra­phy will be re­placed with per­son­alised ads for each con­sumer on each de­vice. This is greatly helped by con­sumers them­selves, es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als who are open to vol­un­tar­ily shar­ing and pro­vid­ing data through chan­nels like Face­book, Gmail and Twit­ter. Cus­tomers would pre­fer to in­ter­act with brands at a hu­man level rather than sim­ply be­ing tar­geted by ir­rel­e­vant ads. They would ex­pect com­pa­nies to show rel­e­vant ads when they want. For this to hap­pen, the ads will have to be fully in­te­grated into the dig­i­tal cus­tomer jour­ney of ev­ery in­di­vid­ual that be­comes in­her­ently valu­able to them. The ex­ist­ing ban­ners and side­bar ads will even­tu­ally be phased out. The year 2020 and be­yond will be all about dis­cov­er­ing cus­tomers at an in­di­vid­ual level more than any­thing.

For over 50 years and un­til re­cently, ad­ver­tis­ing was ruled by the mass me­dia (TV, print) and ad agen­cies. By 2020, more of this con­trol will be trans­ferred to brands who will have to take more re­spon­si­bil­ity for their con­tent, mar­ket­ing and brand aware­ness. On the other hand, ad agen­cies will have to trans­form into full-ser­vice pow­er­houses that deal in tech­nol­ogy and deep in­sight into con­sumers and their cul­ture, at a gran­u­lar level. The ad agen­cies will move away from broad­cast mode to fo­cus on pro­vid­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and en­cour­ag­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion of con­sumers.

As a re­sult of these trans­for­ma­tions, more brands could move ad­ver­tis­ing in-house, in­tro­duce au­toma­tion across so­cial and dig­i­tal net­works, use in­flu­encers more of­ten, and put more em­pha­sis on user-gen­er­ated and au­then­tic con­tent. An in­di­vid­ual’s in­ter­ests, tastes and pref­er­ences will be tar­geted. Com­pa­nies with a strong brand pres­ence will have a deeper un­der­stand­ing and an es­tab­lished process for deal­ing with dif­fer­ent chan­nels and their in­flu­ence on each other. Most of their re­search ef­forts and so­lu­tions will be pro­pri­etary to gain a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage spe­cific to their prod­ucts and au­di­ence.

By 2020, the def­i­ni­tion of con­sumer in­sights will also shift from merely know­ing the con­sumer jour­ney and buy­ing be­hav­iour, to map­ping an in­di­vid­ual’s be­hav­iour and thoughts. Re­search done by brands and con­sult­ing com­pa­nies will be at a more per­sonal level than de­mo­graph­ics. AI will be­come com­mon­place for brands, al­low­ing them to per­son­alise con­tent and con­stantly ad­just and scale their ac­tiv­i­ties in real-time. Cur­rently, tac­tics used by mar­keters and ad agen­cies are largely about sell­ing prod­ucts more than pro­vid­ing rel­e­vant con­tent or of­fer­ing value.


Cur­rently, mar­keters, ad­ver­tis­ers and CMOs do not work in tan­dem and are fully in­te­grated. Si­los ex­ist even within mar­ket­ing func­tions of a brand al­though they do not in­tend to be so. This is pri­mar­ily be­cause to­day’s ma­jor plat­forms and medi­ums, where con­sumers are highly ac­tive such as Face­book, Twit­ter and other dig­i­tal sites and apps, evolved sep­a­rately. In other words, tech­nolo­gies were cre­ated and evolved sep­a­rately at sep­a­rate times. There­fore, ex­per­tise on these plat­forms also grew dis­parately and were frag­mented giv­ing rise to siloed prac­tices. In 2020, CMOs will be equipped to break down the ex­ist­ing si­los and demon­strate their lead­er­ship. On the ad­ver­tis­ing agency side, they will no longer be looked upon to pro­vide dis­jointed so­lu­tions but a sin­gle pow­er­house with tai­lored ad­ver­tis­ing spe­cific to the brand and gran­u­lar in­sights into its in­tended tar­get au­di­ence.

By 2020, brands will no longer in­vest in large con­sumer stud­ies based on gen­eral seg­men­ta­tion, but chan­nel their in­vest­ments into nim­ble and cost­ef­fect stud­ies that con­tin­u­ously track and evolve con­sumer un­der­stand­ing. This will ul­ti­mately put brands in an ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion to re­spond and quickly adapt to chang­ing con­sumer taste, mind­set and be­hav­iour.


Con­sumers are tar­geted to­day us­ing dig­i­tal tools that track their shop­ping and pur­chase habits. Their so­cial me­dia, pay­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and data col­lected from their search his­tory, clicks etc. are used to push of­fers as­sum­ing that they will ap­pre­ci­ate a brand. But ad­ver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing in 2020 will be less about the of­fers and more about unique branded ex­pe­ri­ences and val­ues. The ad­ver­tis­ers will have to in­te­grate con­sumers into the brand’s mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties that en­cour­age a two-way sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship.

The con­sumer-ini­ti­ated ad­vo­cacy of a brand will be­come an in­te­gral part for ad­ver­tis­ers and brands via pro­mo­tional part­ner­ships and brand ac­tiv­ity-re­lated com­mu­ni­ties. A brand’s de­ci­sion on the pric­ing model, shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence etc. will see higher par­tic­i­pa­tion by con­sumers. Ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies will be re­spon­si­ble for the plan­ning and ex­e­cu­tion of plat­forms that al­low par­tic­i­pants (con­sumers) to ex­press and in­volve them­selves more with the brand.

Ad­ver­tis­ing in 2020 will be a com­bi­na­tion of al­go­rithm-driven tech­nol­ogy and the art of per­sua­sion, putting con­sumers on the cen­trestage. The next few years will put greater em­pha­sis on qual­ity con­tent and the speed at which it is cre­ated. In­for­ma­tion will flow in both di­rec­tions with re­spect to data on con­sumers and trans­parency of a brand. There could also be a shift in the cost of con­tent dis­tri­bu­tion as the fo­cus of mar­ket­ing and ad­ver­tis­ing ac­tiv­i­ties will be di­rected to­wards con­sumers’ in­cli­na­tion to share it.

Con­tent dis­tri­bu­tion may con­cen­trate away from tra­di­tional me­dia to dig­i­tal and agen­cies will be ex­pected to adapt and co-own brand prom­ises in or­der to en­sure it is trick­led down to con­sumers. By 2020, brands and ad­ver­tis­ers will no longer be mea­sured by the amount they spend, but by the qual­ity of their ideas. ■

By 2020, tar­geted ads based on de­mog­ra­phy will be re­placed with per­son­alised ads.

(The au­thor is vice-pres­i­dent - mar­ket­ing for Havells In­dia. Pre­vi­ously he was the di­rec­tor brand, com­mu­ni­ca­tion and dig­i­tal for Philips, In­dian sub­con­ti­nent.) feed­back@afaqs.com

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