Marketing 2030 and the rise of the machines

A new report looks at how technology and consumer behaviour will change over the coming decade and what it means for marketing

The future of marketing and advertising over the next 10 years will be shaped by artificial intelligence (AI), data ethics and environmental responsibility, according to a new report. 

Advertising in 2030 produced by Essence, a global data and measurement-driven agency and part of GroupM, asked experts to evaluate the likelihood of 15 different scenarios and their implications for the future of advertising, from data and personalisation to artificial intelligence (AI), creativity, commerce, payments and the environment. 

The study is to provide clarity about how technology will evolve and how it will affect advertising and marketing “to identify issues in need of the most urgent attention and help companies prioritise their innovation and marketing transformation investment decisions,” said Essence global CEO, Kyoko Matsushita.

Over the next decade, it’s more likely environmental considerations play a major role in consumer purchasing decisions and personal assistants and bots will take on more purchasing decisions for companies and consumers, according to those surveyed. Conversely, it’s less likely consumers will be able to opt out of advertising entirely and there will be a global framework for privacy and identity regulation.

Another key finding is consumer expectations of post-millennial generations over the next decade will compel companies to become more transparent, sustainable and purpose-driven.

The report also found AI will eliminate inefficiencies without creating widespread joblessness, as individuals and companies will need to create new kinds of jobs and embrace new fields in which to apply human creativity.

On the advertising front, the expectation is advertising will continue to enable access to content and services for many people, especially in developing countries. But companies will begin to prioritise services over products in their marketing.

Biometric data will increasingly verify consumer identity, which will require new corporate security practices and policies. This, in turn, will see companies collaborating on standards across transactions, identity and security to enable new payment and exchange models that will create scalable alternatives to subscription-based ecommerce.

Future scenarios for marketing 2030

The report concludes there are several key issues the industry must grapple with in order to ensure the relevance of marketing and advertising into the next decade. A respectful and agile approach to privacy is crucial, meaning every company needs a robust data strategy beyond its marketing team.

Also important is creating a seamless customer experience over an entire customer journey and one that is personal and effective. Future brand marketing and customer service strategies will need to account for virtual digital assistants making purchase decisions and will require new methods of discovery and persuasion. Finally, brand purpose-driven transparency and stewardship will become more important to consumers.

The study was conducted from January to late-February 2020 and canvassed nearly 50 advertising and marketing experts - representing brands, agencies, academia, publishing and trade organisations - involving in-person interviews and online survey responses to gain qualitative insights. However, this was before the scope of the coronavirus pandemic was fully clear. 

In light of the scale of the COVID-19 crisis, the report’s co-author noted many of the predictions and trends identified are likely to be accelerated.

“The pandemic may increase the use of AI and automation to replace human labor, catalyse increased use of 3D printing to create locally resilient economies and supply chains, and increase people’s readiness to embrace virtual experiences,” said report co-author, Kate Scott-Dawkins.

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