Who Cares About The Future of Marketing? By Victor Ikem
Marketing remains one of the most evolving areas of practice that has survived many years of multifaceted ‘revolutions’ and if you like ‘counter-evolutions’. Unlike some other areas, marketing has gone through unbroken sequence of dynamic growth, adapting to new trends and techs, but still keeping its grand rule intact, which is to understand and leverage the currency of human behavior, perception and needs.
As the world gradually moves to a new phase, one driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robots, it has become pertinent to project what the future of one of the world’s oldest professions – Marketing- will look like. Interestingly, the buying and selling decisions of the future will involve robots. Marketing automation aided by robots is the future and the world cannot wait.
Using robots to generate real time and on-time customer data, to create contents for advertising, to develop designs, measure consumer appeals, monitor consumer behavior or to reach the right audiences in a seamless way, is a future that all marketers are anxious and cautious about in equal measures. The big question you always get to hear is ‘where will the big ideas come from when you innovate with robots?” “Can we co-create with robots?” “Who will provide the emotional insights based on consumer experience?” and “Can robots distill and provide sufficient market intelligence to guide consumer engagement?”
Sometime this year, 2017, the American Marketing Association to which this writer belongs opened a platform called “Ask the AMA”. In the first series of questions on that platform, this writer had asked a pertinent question regarding the place or rather the role of Robots and Artificial Intelligence and the expected impact of these on the practice of marketing, especially advertising, public relations and maybe customer relationship management, in the future.
The question was put thus “What is the future of marketing, especially advertising and public relations given the expected disruption by robotics and artificial intelligence? Would the way advertising is created, deployed and received change significantly? How do you think that that expected change will occur or what would be the nature of that change?”
In his well-crafted response, Markus Giesler who is chair of the marketing department at York University’s Schulich School of Business and Director of the Big Design Lab, says, to quote him expressly:
“In marketing, we often distinguish between two types of market orientations. Some firms are market-driven, others are market-driving. Market-driven advertising seeks to respond to an existing consumer need or want in an existing market. Market-driving advertising, on the other hand, seeks to shape needs and wants and forges congruence between a product or service and existing structures of legitimation, thereby reshaping markets into something new and different.
In the current landscape, I think it’s fair to say that most companies aspire to be market-driven. Market-driving companies are probably the exception, not the rule. My prediction for our future is that the influx of AI and robotics will dramatically change this relation, among others. Here’s why. One thing that these new technologies will do is make knowledge about customers cheaper and more accessible. And when that happens, and being market-driven becomes less challenging for companies, we will see companies become more market-driving to stand out competitively. In this scenario, advertising and PR will be less about communicating how an offering satisfies an existing consumer need or want and more about creating new markets and consumer identities”.
Well, Markus has said it all. The future will be less about communicating and more about creating real value with the increase in customer information. Customer data with the help of both AI and Robots will be detailed and dependable enough to guide marketers and product teams in developing solutions that will satisfy existing needs. Customer data through intelligent and AI enabled data generation tools will effectively help design problem-solving products and services.
Coming back to the core area of how marketing and advertising message will be created in the future and the expected disruption in that space, it is relevant to consider that beyond the tools of the practice, the human side of marketing – the most critical of all the elements – it is humans who design the advertising message, create the content and decide the media. Over the years, advertising agencies have always depended on the creative capacity of its human capital and the depth of its creative workforce to win advertising awards and deliver exceptional services to clients.
To highlight the human side of its creative strength, DDB, one of Nigeria’s leading advertising agencies, has always emphasized the co-creativity theory of advertising development. This theory pursues that to deliver good quality creative concepts and ideas, the interaction and interconnectedness of the human mind is important, and this is done through focus group discussions and brainstorming sessions with parties in the campaign development process.
It is a fact that the advent of social media and digital advertising brought with it a paradigmatic shift in the way advertising is practiced around the world. This is evident in the fact that nearly 70% of advertising budget today, for many of the major advertisers, is now spent on the digital and social media space, when compared to the traditional media platform of radio, television, billboard and newspaper. While most advertising practitioners are still struggling to keep pace with the demands of digitally driven or social media advertising, the intrusion and invasion of Robot and Artificial intelligence is the next battle ground in the evolution of marketing and advertising with robot creative directors and media managers currently being developed and tested.
The question to ask is ‘how ready are you for this future that is about to happen?’
Victor Ikem is analyst in brand, marketing and other things