“Talk to an expert in the tech field and they will tell you one certain fact about the future; it’s going to involve AI.” Wouldn’t you agree?
In our part 4 of the Predictions Series 2018, we make an attempt to delve deeper into the newer technologies in marketing, sales, and advertising. Untangling the bits and pieces of what’s to come in 2018, we bring insights from senior executives at Blis, HIRO Media, LiveWorld, PandaDoc, and CrossInstall.
When we spoke to Mahi de Silva, CEO of Botworx’ai, who predicted that marketers will undoubtedly see AI-assisted marketing go mainstream in 2018 with advanced machine learning being the key tool for success.
Mahi said, “What was once a foreign and Sci-Fi concept has become a very real and instrumental tool for many industries. While the capabilities of AI spans industries, marketers will see more effective AI-assisted marketing in 2018, powered by some real hardcore machine learning algorithms.”
Ads.txt and Fighting Fraud with New-age Transparency Standards
Oded Napchi, CMO, HIRO Media, said, “We expect fraud to be one of the biggest issues this year due to two important shifts: we anticipate more grappling investigations on the online patterns to expose fraudulent activities that happened within YouTube and Facebook and expect a larger focus on fraud arriving from advertising (whereas today the market focuses on traffic frauds).”
End of Arbitrage in 2018?
Oded said, “2018 will be the end of arbitrage. Yes, it is about time… ads.txt and SPO seem to be the final nail needed for closing the arbitrage world. Our concern is that the arbitrage companies will move to another shady activity in the advertising world.”
Amazon, Amazon, Amazon!
Oded added, “Last year, we expected the duopoly to extend. We didn’t expect it to be Amazon, but Jeff Bezos’ juggernaut emerged victorious. We expect this trend to continue also in 2018 as Amazon continues to grow its ad offerings, and perhaps a 4th player may thrust itself into the advertising aristocracy.”
The Rise of Blockchain Linked to AI!
Common Consensus on Blockchain Business in Existing Advertising Ecosystem
Gil Larsen, VP, Americas at Blis, predicts that blockchain technology would be the most sought-after market for doing business in an accelerated mode. Gil said, “By enabling marketers to conduct transactions in a secure and transparent marketplace, blockchain has the potential to solve for many industry issues. With blockchain, the end-to-end processes of booking, buying, and placing digital ad space will be recorded and stored. And, because all these transactions would be available to the public and verified by common consensus, blockchain will help bring about greater transparency and end ad fraud. Integrating blockchain technology into our existing advertising ecosystems will take time.”
Legends versus Startups: Who will Win the Adoption Race
Gil added, “Larger players will take longer to adapt, and organizations from across the industry will need to come together and agree on a common set of standards. We’ll see more and more startups adopting the technology, and the IAB and other industry bodies will begin setting some key standards.”
Blockchain: A Transaction Ledger
Further, Gil said, “Within five years, the ad industry will transition into using blockchain as a transaction ledger. And within a decade, we’ll likely see it become a new industry standard. It’s time for brands and their tech partners to prepare.”
Convergence of Cutting-edge Technology for Marketing and Sales Teams
Brian Fitzgerald of PandaDoc has interesting predictions on how cybersecurity, the blockchain, and AI/ML would converge in 2018 to bring better business results. PandaDoc is a Document Management Cloud Software that streamlines sales proposals, contracts and other documents with e-signatures, templates, analytics, CPQ, and CRM integrations. Brian predicts that the advances in cognitive and systems neurobiology will lead to bigger breakthroughs in AI.
Brian said, “AI technology will become more efficient and precise, leading to a broad spectrum of use cases for businesses both large and small. Chatbots will be at the forefront of this change. The way people access information will continue to shift away from text-based query to voice and visual-based queries.”
Analytics to Become Core Offering in Marketing and Sales Technology Stacks
According to Brian, “Analytics and automation will be the focus of sales and marketing departments across most industries. As software becomes easier to use and more cost-effective, more widespread adoption will occur.”
He adds, “There will be major consolidation in the sales enablement, marketing automation, and CRM spaces. There will be a rush of acquisitions, and poor performers will be pushed out of business.”
Adoption of Cybersecurity and Blockchain Technology
Brian thinks that security concerns will continue to be a thorn in the side of SaaS companies dealing with government and enterprise level organizations. He predicts, “Custom development departments within SaaS companies will grow, as CIOs are pushed to find tools to improve upon the inefficiencies and reduce overhead. Fewer and fewer accounts payable departments will be saying, “the check is in the mail,” as digital transitions become the industry standard.”
Brian added, “Advances in blockchain technology will make “smart contracts” the next big thing. However, much work is needed before widespread adoption.”
Implementing AI for Disruption-free Customer Experience
Peter Friedman, Chairman & CEO, LiveWorld, predicts, “Usage of voice assistants will continue to rise in 2018, leading brands to adopt another communication channel to remain connected with consumers throughout the customer journey. Voice assistants can enhance the customer experience by always being there for consumers, so expect marketers to explore ways to most effectively implement AI marketing campaigns without disrupting the customer experience.”
AI will Continue to Be a Hot Topic for Marketers in 2018
Peter attributes much of the marketing buzz to the proliferation of AI/ML technologies. He said, “AI will remain the industry buzzword for marketers in 2018. However, next year brands will capitalize on the power of chatbots and virtual assistants to remain present throughout the customer journey to better understand consumers and increase their purchasing decisions.”
Botworx’ai CEO, Mahi said, “The workhorse behind AI-assisted marketing will be chatbots, that will emerge as the key channel for customer engagement and far surpass email when it comes to targeting the millennial generation. This tactic of marketing has been dubbed conversational commerce, and it allows brands to use contextual data about their customers to interact with them the same way a salesperson would in a retail store; providing that interpersonal communication on a global scale. We are already seeing chatbot used by brands to engage customers via Facebook Messenger, Instagram and the like, and based on those results, we can expect to see more in the future.”
The Power of AI-driven Messaging Apps
“Marketers will raise expectations for establishing two-way marketing strategies next year. The ongoing dialogue with customers will empower brands to enhance the customer’s experience. Marketers will put more of an emphasis on messaging apps than social media to drive an ongoing dialogue in marketing campaigns next year.”
Advertisers Will Ask More Questions and Demand Transparency
Jeff Marshall, CEO, CrossInstall, predicts, “With advances in both programmatic and social data, advertisers will ask more questions about inventory, messages, and attribution. Achieving scale and quality for user acquisition will reign supreme, but advertisers and the industry as a whole will no longer tolerate the black boxes or fraud in the typical attribution and traffic buying processes.”
Genuine ROI from Tools that Promise Transparency
Jeff said, “Advertisers will route their budgets toward companies that promote transparency and genuine ROI will rise to the top. This will cause a shake-up among those vendors that let ad fraud slide.The industry will promote tools that really work and hold those companies accountable that built their businesses on the back of ad fraud. 2018 is the year that companies will have to atone for dishonesty as advertisers push them to answer the difficult questions.”
Striking a Relevant Conversation with Customers without Losing the Pitch
2017 was a phenomenal year for AI and chatbots in the marketing world. Though still in its infancy, AI/ML, blockchain, and virtual assistants are most likely to make the conversations more intuitive. All that businesses have to do is plug ad fraud by setting higher standards for transparency and brand safety in 2018. This is what makes 2018 so exciting, in that we will finally begin to see the fruits of this labor and a new age for AI and marketing.