Technology Changes and Their Impact on Your Marketing Strategy

effective marketing channels

Technology changes abound and, if our grandparents (or great-grandparents) came back today, they wouldn’t recognize the media landscape, let alone the rest of our modern technology. It would be like a modern remake of “Blast from the Past“. Imagine your dead ancestors seeing a smartphone with the power to rival early computers that filled an entire room or TVs that get 200+ channels without even using a cable, or any other the other modern technologies we take for granted. Now, imagine you’re trying to market to people who grew up in a world where these technologies were ubiquitous. Well, that’s what you face today and you need to market to them in very different ways than those you saw on “Mad Men“, which depicted the world before technology changes revolutionized the marketing world (and the rest of the world). And, it’s not the end of the technological changes we’ll see in the near future. So, let’s take a look at how marketers need to respond to the current technological environment and the one just on the horizon.

digital marketing
Image courtesy of marketing charts

Just look at the image above and you see how technology changed the way businesses spend their advertising dollars. Notice that TV advertising, once the go-to for any successful business, is now #2 in the US, while other forms of traditional advertising now comprise a small fraction of the budget for most US brands. When you consider that this graph only covers actual advertising expenses, not “free” forms of promotion such as social media and other forms of digital marketing, the composition of US promotional budgets is nothing like it was before technology changes offered alternatives that deliver.

Marketers are a pretty savvy bunch, especially when it comes to how they spend their advertising budgets. A corollary to this graph is the one below, which shows the most effective marketing channels according to a survey of experts.

effective marketing channels
Image courtesy of Digital Marketing Community

In today’s post, we look at technology changes to help you plan for ways to adapt your strategy to those changes already upon us and those coming down the pike with the power and unstoppability of a freight train. Ignore these technological changes at your own risk.

Technology changes and adaptations to marketing strategy

To give you a broad overview of where I’m going in today’s post, I put together this nifty infographic. Certainly, there are likely other technological changes coming but I don’t have a crystal ball. According to the experts I surveyed in preparing this article, these are the biggest technology changes that will impact your marketing strategy now and in the coming year or so.

technology changes

Streaming

The most recent data available show over 39 million people cut the cord to eliminate cable or over-the-air TV in their homes, an increase of over 5 million people every year since 2019. And, most of these people didn’t decide to eliminate technology but decided streaming services offered a greater value than alternatives available for getting TV signals into their homes. Subscription services like Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video often feature ad-free viewing (although Netflix says it plans to introduce a lower pricing tier that includes advertising). Those households who do still subscribe to cable providers, use over-the-air viewing through a satellite subscription or antenna, or subscribe to a TV aggregator such as Hulu+ or YouTubTV often record programming to view at a more convenient time, which also allows them to skip over advertising. This results in many fewer eyeballs for your expensive TV ads.

Other subscription-based services offer a wider range of programming, including next-day broadcasts of popular shows, including advertising to subscribers in exchange for providing this value. However, in most cases, these ads are designed for streaming platforms as opposed to the ads shown as part of the original broadcast of the program. In part, advertisers use streaming ads because they offer superior targeting options and they offer more robust insights to guide decision-making over traditional TV advertising.

Back-channel media. Back-channel media allows users to learn more about products they see in TV programming and even purchase them from the comfort of their couches by making television “clickable”. This variation of streaming is real Jetson’s stuff. The way it works is that programmers or advertisers insert icons into their shows or commercials. Consumers use a special remote control to select icons as they watch television using a box with special software to get more information about a company’s products, where the product is available locally, pricing, etc. Consumers can also get more information on the actors, director, or location where the content was filmed using back-channel media, as well as order the product or arrange for a download of music, movies, and software by following the link. Virtually anything could be made “clickable”.



Social media marketing

digital marketing experts
Image courtesy of SEO Web Design

Social media is among the most impactful technology changes in modern marketing. That’s because social media dominates the modern customer journey as you can see in the image above and supplements other digital marketing efforts such as your website, digital advertising, SEO, and email marketing. Even with the decline in organic traffic from social media, it still hugely impacts awareness, helps form positive attitudes toward your brand, and acts as a vehicle to build a community that supports your goals. Social media offers two-way communication that helps you learn more about your target market, build advocacy among loyal customers, and spreads your message to other prospective buyers through engagement.

The impact of technology changes on social media didn’t stop with the platforms. New platforms, such as TikTok, are only possible through improved technology available on smartphones to allow fast streaming of short videos and cameras to create these videos on mobile devices without purchasing separate equipment.

Of course, social media represents an increasingly fragmented option for marketers so choosing the right social platforms that represent where your target market spends most of their time is critical for success. Creating valuable content on a consistent basis that fits the norms and technological requirements of each channel you use helps cut through the noise created by the large number of companies hoping to cash in on this valuable marketing tool. That means posting content on the right schedule (ie. Facebook frequency of 1-2/day is optimal while Twitter frequency is 4-6 times per day), at the right time, and using content that motivates your target market to action. This isn’t an easy task so you likely need A/B testing and careful monitoring so you can optimize your content sharing.

You also need a content calendar to help you keep up with your content needs since it’s hard to create something amazing when you face a blank screen and a deadline. Below is an example of the content calendar template I use with my clients.

content calendar template

Artificial intelligence

While it’s unlikely the claims of ex-Googler that they have a computer that’s sentient (can feel, reason, and think), artificial intelligence offers a host of benefits for today’s marketers. Chatbots reside on your website so you can offer customer support for answering questions, handling problems, and providing resources 24/7 without ever taking a day off or calling in sick. Using artificial intelligence in combination with machine learning, chatbots offer conversations that look remarkably like a conversation between humans. After significant training, which greatly impacts the ability of the chatbot to simulate human interactions, machine learning helps the chatbot get smarter with every novel interaction.

Artificial intelligence now powers digital advertising platforms making the thousands of calculations needed to optimize performance using real-time data. Instead of manually running A/B tests, each varying by a single element, artificial intelligence allows market simulations by assessing the impact of each element on performance simultaneously, thus reducing the time and money needed to find the best-performing ad copy.

Artificial intelligence long helps speed fulfillment by reducing the amount of wasted effort needed to pick outstanding orders and reducing mistakes by comparing packages to the weight expected for all the items it contains. Now, artificial intelligence is fueling robots that can reduce costs by replacing human pickers, thus eliminating variances caused by worker shortages (permanent or temporary) and providing opportunities for better utilization of human workers for less mundane tasks.

Tools fueled by artificial intelligence also help marketers provide deep personalization beyond simply inserting a name into a standard message in their interactions with customers and others. By detecting where a subscriber came from, how they interacted with your prior messaging, and factors gleaned regarding their wants and needs, marketers can plan messaging designed around these factors that resonate with subscribers to promote higher engagement and conversion rates.

Web 3.0

Speaking of technology changes, enhancements that allow the advancement of internet capabilities open a myriad of opportunities for marketers. The newest iteration of the internet is Web 3.0, which;

offers better control over data privacy and security and helps deliver a more personalized user experience

Web 3.0, which won’t reach its potential for the next few years, represents the evolution of the internet from a reading platform to a reading/ writing platform, to a reading/ writing/ interacting platform. In support of user experience, Web 3.0 makes it easier for users to find information that addresses their query and affords more control over the privacy and security they experience online.

Technologies behind the evolution to Web 3.0 include the semantic web, which organizes information in a way that allows machines to process information in much the same way humans do, artificial intelligence/ machine learning, and natural language process, which allows machines to understand human language more like a human.



AR/ VR

Artificial reality/ virtual reality is another technology that offers great opportunities for marketers as it develops, as you can see in the image below. The metaverse is an example of one such change wrought by AR/VR. These related technologies translate the environment into 3D immersive experiences that simulate the real world. Soon, these technologies will advance to provide a more real-world environment that allows users to interact without leaving their homes/ offices. For instance, you can tour the Louvre without leaving home or try on a new outfit using an avatar that looks just like you or place furniture in your home to see how your room will look before buying anything.

adapting marketing to technology changes

As the technology advances and costs come down, opportunities to use AR/VR abound. For instance, imagine creating a virtual representation of an actual new product to test its viability without anything more than a computer. This fully-functional prototype allows your target market to play with an innovative toy or use a new appliance without the high cost associated with actually building the prototype. Plus, making changes to the prototype based on prospective user feedback is fast and doesn’t cost as much as changing a physical prototype.

Search engine optimization

SEO helps users find your brand online by improving your rank in search engine results. The ever-changing SEO algorithm means you must constantly adapt your strategy but if you consistently build a great user experience, you’re likely to see the best results regardless of future changes that seek to optimize anticipated consumer technology changes. For instance, the most recent major change in the algorithm privileged companies that produced websites that loaded quickly (Core Web Vitals) on computers and mobile devices as the connectivity of these devices increased and usage expanded. As NLP (natural language processing) advances, the fit between user intent and your content also becomes more important for ranking.

SEO will likely remain a top priority for digital marketers as it’s unlikely that the current situation will change in the foreseeable future. Facebook makes noises from time to time about replacing search engines with its platform but this seems unlikely as the behavioral change required takes a long time among users.



A cookieless world

Cookies are snippets of code attached to your browser that show where you’ve been online. For marketers, these cookies have value since you can use them to predict which users might find value in your products and selectively show social media advertising to users who visited your competition. From a user perspective, these cookies threaten their privacy in a way they feel is a violation. To thwart cookies, some users routinely erase their cookies while others use browsers such as Duck Duck Go that don’t collect cookie information.

In Google’s continued efforts at world domination through Chrome (as of January 2022, Google owned nearly 92% of all search traffic), they announced they plan to eliminate 3rd party cookies by the end of 2023. In part, this change is part of their evolving commitment to user privacy but it also reduces the appeal of alternatives such as Duck Duck Go so they can capture even more market share.

Third-party cookies contain information about users’ visits to other websites while first-party cookies contain information about visits to your website. Google’s change doesn’t impact 1st party cookies. Thus, remarketing (selectively showing ads to users who visited your website in the past) will still work as a marketing tool.

Voice search

The way SEO works, as I alluded to earlier, is Google attempts to determine the intent behind a user query by matching the words in the query to keywords used by content creators to help search engines categorize their content. As more users employ voice search through tools like Alexa on their phones and devices.

When users employ voice search, the query looks more conversational; it’s longer and less formal than a text query. Thus, to match these queries, you need to target longer keywords (actually phrases called long-tail keywords) when you craft content.

Conclusion

These are the biggest technology changes I see impacting your ability to market online today and in the near future. You must adjust your marketing plans to take advantage of these changes.

Also, recognize that these changes don’t occur in isolation. So, AI and NLP work together to offer opportunities that impact the success of your existing strategy. A change you’ll likely see in the future, then, involves more integration across these technology changes to create even more opportunities in the future.

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Hausman and Associates, the publisher of MKT Maven, is a full-service marketing agency operating at the intersection of marketing and digital media. Check out our full range of services.