Digital marketing, by its very definition, is constantly developing. As new digital technology becomes available, companies are obligated to evolve with it. Companies unable to adapt will stand little chance of survival, so it’s vital they stay in the loop and embrace new technologies when they become available. But what new digital marketing technologies are on the horizon, and how will they change the profession over the next decade? We take a look at ten ways technology will change the digital marketing landscape forever by 2026.
AI influences everything
This isn’t to say AI will have completely taken over the role of the marketer by 2026. There’s still plenty of stuff that can only be executed with that most human of traits; discretion. Deciding exactly how much time, effort and ad-revenue to invest in a campaign is just beyond AI’s current capabilities. However, it is already taking a front seat in digital marketing. As the technology develops, AI will become essential to creating effective social campaigns, content curation, customer service and even website design. Deep learning is already allowing AI to develop a stronger understanding of the nuances behind marketing campaigns. By 2026, it will come to play an even more integral role and even open new avenues for the industry as a whole.
Mobile is the channel
This will come as no surprise to anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in the real world, but mobile is fast becoming the number one channel by which people view content. Just as AI will be in just a few years, mobile is now a standard element of every marketer’s framework. The number of global users for mobile devices surpassed the number of desktop users back in 2015, and mobile digital media time now accounts for 51% compared to just 42% for desktop, so it’s easy to see why more marketers are ensuring their content has been optimised for mobile than ever before. Digital marketing is steadily shifting its focus to mobile, but by 2026, advances in technology will allow them to market directly to the consumer with custom-made content. Speaking of which…
Personalisation is mandatory
In much the same way that marketing content has to be optimised for mobile if it wants to reach the younger generation, content needs a personal touch to make a real impact. Despite being a relatively new aspect of marketing, it’s only set to increase as technology enables companies to understand more about their audience. Individual analytics and the rise of ‘small data’ are helping fuel a more personal approach to marketing, where consumers are marketed to in a way that suits them. Personalisation stems from understanding consumers, and marketers will be more geared towards engaging with consumers through non-traditional channels as more personal data becomes available. Just as the growth of Snapchat led to a variety of guerilla marketing techniques that weighed the user’s own predilections, new technology will ensure every ad a consumer sees is a case of ‘right place, right time’.
Branded content is a two-way street
In the same vein, the consumer will begin to play a more integral role in a brand’s identity over the coming decade. As the chief marketing officer for Taco Bell Corp, Chris Brandt, explained in a recent article for Co.Create, “User generated content will far exceed branded content and brands need to embrace this and accept they aren’t in complete control of their own brand.” As viral videos and citizen-led product placement give brands more exposure, companies will be consigned to ensuring their brand message is consistent and communicated effectively. The rise of social media has supplied companies with ample exposure courtesy of their audience, but it’s vital the brand ensures it’s the right kind of exposure.
Virtual reality is more than just a novelty
Let’s face it, virtual reality is fun, but its true potential as a marketing tool hasn’t yet been fully realised. Some intriguing examples aside, the medium has been largely limited to gimmicks and vague illustrations of specialist interests. But when it’s done well, VR as a digital marketing tool can be an immersive experience that takes a brand’s message into a new dimension. In Coca-Cola’s recent VR campaign, the packaging for a 12 pack could be transformed into a virtual reality headset, generating sizable online chatter and providing the soft drinks giant with a new in the process. Likewise, tequila company Patron gave their company history a charming visual element through a virtual reality set and a short film. As technology develops, VR will become a more recognised and versatile channel for brand advertising.
The traditional office is a thing of the past
As the internet redraws our concept of boundaries, companies are increasingly turning away from the standard office format. The growth in mobile technology, Cloud software and near-omnipresent internet connection gives us round the clock access to our workplace, even when we’re on the other side of the planet. As a result, the demand for office space is declining. The development of instant video messaging software such as Google Hangouts and content sharing platforms like Slack has made it easier than ever to manage a business from anywhere in the world. Digital marketing is already feeling the impact of this new virtual workplace. With geographic proximity no longer a consideration, employees can work together from across the planet, encouraging a more diverse approach to the traditional marketing campaign.
Startups mean a static market
With the huge increase in digital startups, the market will be a far less predictable place. The invasive rise of the internet has allowed tiny startups to grow rapidly and advances in API are making anticipating the success stories of the future increasingly difficult. Digital marketing, as a result, is in a constant state of flux. This isn’t necessarily a bad omen for your own startup, however. With more companies establishing themselves through non-traditional channels, investors are more open to new opportunities, and the entire process of finding funding has become more democratic as a result. By the mid-twenty-twenties, startups will rely less on major investments from banks, if at all, and more on generating scalable revenue from democratised investment platforms.
More channels mean more opportunities
Marketers have more options for the channels through which to market their content now than at any other point in history. Whilst automation may have made it easier to reach more people with less physical work, the proliferation of different mediums to reach an audience means marketers have to consider much more carefully the way in which they engage with consumers. With so many different channels to use, by 2026 marketers will have to think very carefully about the right mediums to use for their brand.
Transparency is paramount
In a world where corporate responsibility is increasingly under the microscope, companies are under pressure to ensure their business practices are transparent and ethical at all times. Most people, it’s safe to assume, like to think they are fairly ethical people. Therefore, guaranteeing your business operates in a humane and sustainable way gives your brand a relatable brand identity. With public scrutiny of major businesses now commonplace and social media enabling anybody to voice their concerns at a company’s behaviour, digital marketers will have to ensure their content communicates their commitment to ethical business practices at all times.
Marketing attribution ends the spam generation
With more and more companies being able to track exactly how a consumer has arrived at their site, not to mention what they did when they got there, the age of the random, unsolicited ad is almost over. We’re already witnessing companies move towards more targeted campaigns, where consumers only see content their previous web behaviour suggested they may be interested in. As technology improves, companies will only get better at anticipating what a consumer may be interested in, and when the best time to suggest it is.