From Kendall Jenner to Colin Kaepernick, 2018 was an eventful year of controversial marketing campaigns. No doubt you’ve seen a handful of best and worst marketing campaigns of 2018 round-ups already. And now that it’s 2019, we’ll start seeing predictions for the year. But before we move on to those articles, let’s recap the biggest marketing tech trends of 2018.
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Top Marketing Technology Trends
The landscape just keeps growing, and consolidation isn’t happening – yet
- For as long as Scott Brinker has been publishing his annual MarTech landscape infographic, he’s been predicting consolidation in the industry. In 2018, he finally said, “Ok, I’ve been wrong. Consolidation isn’t happening soon.” With nearly 7,000 MarTech solutions in 2018, it was a fair assessment.
- But, we also saw a quite a bit of M&A activity in the MarTech space this year. Most notable: Adobe’s acquisition of Magento in the fall. Could this signal the start of the MarTech consolidation trend Chief MarTech has been predicting for years? Only 2019 will tell us.
GDPR finally came to be
- The looming deadline was all anyone could talk about in the first half of 2018. Concerns of the vague language, harsh penalties and predictions of who the EU would use to set an example dominated conversations.
- While EU citizens benefited directly from the regulation, consumers worldwide reaped the rewards as well. Some companies found it easier to improve data privacy and security for all customers rather than segmenting out the EU customers alone. In addition, California approved similar data privacy legislation that will go into effect in the coming years as well. As the specifics become clear, we marketers will need to figure out how to prepare for this one as well.
Did we give up on AI?
- AI might have peaked in 2017. Back then, the industry felt optimistic about the technology’s imminent possibility and even feared that their roles would be replaced by technology. But come 2018 and little progress made, marketers are more skeptical about AI’s capabilities. In fact, the State of Martech 2018 found that less than half of marketers plan to implement AI solutions.
- Instead, IoT is seeing a resurgence in popularity. Fifty-three percent of marketers have already implemented IoT solutions, and we’re seeing companies invest more in their IoT solutions quite a bit. As Alexa, Siri and other digital assistants support IoT technology, we’ll see this number grow in 2019.
Blockchain was the new buzzword
- Blockchain was the hottest topic at MarTech West 2018. This technology can thank the combination of marketers’ skepticism of AI and the timing of GDPR’s implementation for its popularity. With the promise to provide the best data security to date, no wonder marketers were intrigued.
- The only problem was that most conversations in 2018 among marketers regarding blockchain was that they didn’t understand it. If you’re still in that boat, check out this podcast where a MarTech expert explains blockchain to his nine-year-old daughter.
All eyes are on voice
- The MarTech community couldn’t get enough of Alexa and her competitors in 2018. This year, we saw widespread adoption of voice technology among consumers, but few have completed purchases on it to date. Instead, consumers opted to use voice to answer questions and play music.
- The biggest barrier to entry for purchasing via voice right now seems to be limitations in the technology. If Alexa can’t distinguish that when I ask, “What’s the weather?” that I’m talking about my location, then I’m not likely to trust her to know what specific product I’m looking for. But those qualms will disappear as voice technology improves, and we’ll likely see more consumers take the voice purchase plunge in 2019.
Personalization is still top of mind
- Even though marketers have been discussing the merits and best practices of personalization for years, conversations surrounding the strategy haven’t slowed down in 2018. Instead, with advances in related MarTech and more brand choices than ever before, consumers have higher expectations for a personalized experience than ever before.
- And the B2C realm isn’t alone. In 2018, we started seeing this demand for personalization trickle down to B2B buyers. The reason is obvious: B2B buyers are consumers too. They’ve seen how this works well in their personal lives, and now they want their work lives to match. To succeed in 2019, B2B brands will need to adopt stronger personalized marketing approaches.
Best of breed is dominating over fully integrated, robust cloud-based solutions
- According to State of MarTech 2018, 34 percent of marketers are now using a best-of-breed approach, up 27 percent from 2017. While comprehensive solutions from IBM, Adobe and others still dominate, their position as industry leaders were threatened in 2018. In fact, nearly seven in 10 marketers don’t believe a perfect MarTech stack exists. With a perception like that, no wonder more marketers are giving up on the expensive, robust solutions in favor of agile, niche solutions.
With leading tech companies and small startups alike innovating at what feels like a faster rate than ever before, it’s an exciting time to work in MarTech. I’ve listed the biggest trends I saw in the industry this year, and I’m anxious to see what 2019 holds.
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