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The Future of Digital Marketing

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New and Upcoming Marketing Strategies for the next decade


Marketing, but…digital? That’s all there is to it right? On the face of it, you’re pretty much correct. But a lot of time has passed since digital marketing was first introduced, about 20 years in fact! With the advent of the internet, billboard ads got animated, newspapers were used for arts and crafts than news, and social media showed you ads about things you just talked about with your friend.

As technology evolves, so are the ways we are fed information. Everything is readily available online. Companies no longer one-up consumers, as both are well-educated on sneaky marketing ploys and advertising tactics. But like all marketing strategies, they are always two-steps ahead of the consumer. So now, let’s go ten-steps ahead into the future, and see what Digital Marketing will come to be.


What’s it like now?

By now, most companies have embraced Artificial Intelligence (AI) for marketing strategies such as predictive analytics, automated-replies and generating the best visuals. Here’s what Elon Musk has to say about it:

“There are many challenges inherent in working with Digital Partners. We need to make sure we give consumers the best possible experience of Digital Partners offering products on the digital market”

Okay, that wasn’t Elon Musk. What you just read was in fact, written by an online AI text generator. Predictions are the name of the game as consumers start to feel like everything they say is being recorded. Netflix knows what shows you like, Spotify knows your music taste, and Instagram always seems to show you the right ad at the right time. With perfectly tailored advertisements, automated interactions with consumers, and ubiquitous marketing channels, digital marketing is at the peak of its ascent.

Yet, there is a problem. AI allows companies to target suitable demographics and market their products at unprecedented speed and productivity, but at the end of the day, they’re not human. There’s no emotion at play. And that’s a big factor in the age of representation and diversity.


The Robot Paradox

All this personalisation isn’t enough for consumers. Automated replies lack the rhythm and inflections of human dialogue. Every response is calculated and precise, giving the user what only what they need and nothing more. They can’t share your excitement for a product nor can they crack a joke in the middle of a conversation. In fact, customers may even feel less cared for when interacting with AI compared to traditional consumer mediums.

Care and attention. These are the two determinants of whether a company will make it or break it. The market no longer cares about towering lists of technical specs or premium materials imported from the Himalayas. What consumers want is to be emotionally sold by a product. They need to feel that the company cares about THEIR personal interests above the gigantic sea of other consumers.

That’s a challenge.

Another facet of the problem is to make consumers feel like they are the ones making conscious choices, when in reality, they are consistently being forced to watch advertisements tailored to their interests even when they don’t want to. Adblockers such as AdBlock Plus or Ghostery are under attack by a micro-industry known as ‘adblock circumvention’. Ever notice how YouTube or Instagram still manages to display their ads despite your adblockers? This is because of an anti-circumvention list that lets them detect adblockers and bypass their blacklisted websites. Consumers notice, and they feel that these companies are disrespecting their freedom of choice.

If companies do not convince consumers that their rights and representation, then regardless of how brilliant their products are, they just won’t sell. It’s no longer a competition for the best product, rather the best story you can sell to consumers. And that’s where Digital Marketing is heading towards. The realm of stories.


What’s it like tomorrow?

A recent buzzword that has been floating around is ‘storitization’. Marketing analysts are dubbing it “the future” of digital marketing. But what does this entail? Companies who have caught on are starting to design their advertisements around a narrative; a story that’ll evoke joy, sadness, nostalgia, mystery, and spectacle. Because the path to a consumer’s heart isn’t through bombarding him/her with their interests, it is through capturing their emotions through powerful, clever, and emotional storytelling.

Because customers are more interested in buying experiences than products.

That is why we’re witnessing an influx of advertisements that invoke more than just your visual senses. Notice how today’s commercials have an emphasis on sound more than ever before such as McDonald’s Fried Chicken, Jacob’s crackers, and Coca-Cola. The sound of a refreshing gulp of soda complete with a post-drink “ahh” is all it takes. The aim is not to promote their food, but rather make their consumers hungry.

This coupled with relatable situations that makes consumers feel seen, heard, and cared for is how digital marketing is regaining the advantage over consumers.

The food industry is an obvious example, but storitization is occurring in all sorts of industries. Online ads for games can actually be played on the spot, smart QR codes allow you to virtually try on different outfits, and deepfake technology puts you in hyper-realistic real-life scenarios.

Digital storytelling is not a new innovation. Commercials with stories existed way before the first iPhone was developed. The difference is, these commercials are now making “you” the main character. The same commercial will be shown to every consumer, yet…it will feel like a personal experience.

Companies are learning to humanize themselves more and more, until consumers may even forget that at the end of the day, they are simply trying to sell a product. The word “product” may not even be relevant anymore, as companies no longer promote what the product is rather what it’ll make you feel. Consumers won’t feel breached when their adblockers are being bypassed if they can emotionally connect with the advertisement they are watching every time. This is a challenge however, but with the rapid learning capabilities of AI, biometric data, and expanding marketing channels it’s not too far off.

The more a company can show consumers they don’t have any tricks up their sleeves, and how much they love and care about their them, the more effective their marketing will be; a magic act that David Blaine would even struggle with. Once digital marketing reaches that level of trust, then consumers may even outsource their purchasing decisions to AI devices. Smart fridges may order milk for you when you run out. After all, smart cars already park and fill your gas for you. But of course, all of that is ten-steps into the future. But with the growth of digital marketing, ten-steps may even become one.


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