From DMA Community Members

DMA Communities represent the most engaged and experienced members of the Data & Marketing Association. So, who better to ask for insight regarding what’s on the horizon for 2018? As expected, the breadth and depth of the answers did not disappoint. Several points stand out, including:

  • The volume and velocity of data used for marketing is on the rise with no end in sight.
  • Marketers can skip a modern omnichannel approach…at their own peril.
  • Staying abreast of an ever-changing media landscape requires ongoing education.

Have a read and let us know where you agree and disagree. If we were perfect prognosticators, we’d all be retired by now.

Higher Expectations of Mobile
People who don’t understand that their mobile sites are slow will suffer progressively higher bounce rates. The rest of the mobile web will simply become faster as developers work on speed, companies adopt Progressive Web Apps, and Accelerated Mobile Pages becomes more common. Users will have accordingly higher expectations. Also, the next big thing on Mobile won’t come from the U.S. It will emerge from the energy and creativity of India or China.

Ben Morss
Developer, Advocate
google logo

Machine Learning Gets Personal
Machine and Deep Learning excel in certain kinds of tasks and it is very clear that they are already being deployed in many marketing analytic tasks. Facebook’s ad targeting platform and Amazon’s recommendation engine are informed by machine learning. Machine learning will become increasingly powerful wherever a high level of personalization is required… the essence of digital and direct marketing.

Machine Learning will gradually become more and more important to normal marketing analytics activities. That is partly because of superior prediction capabilities as well as its abilities to better harness cloud based platforms and increasing distributed or parallel computing power. It is also because machine learning can help not just in targeting the right person at the right place at the right time. It also adds a level of dimensionality to the right message. Instead of A/B testing various messages to different subpopulations, machine learning can be very consultative in various applications (particularly personal finance and investment).

John Friedmann
Manager Analytics

Innovation and Omnichannel Marketing
While much is uncertain about 2018, there is no doubt that routine advocacy is critical to success just as routine self-education is essential to sustenance. When it comes to innovation and relevant connectivity, neuroscientists are demonstrating the effectiveness of retro old school postal mail. In 2018, we are likely to see more savvy marketers infuse postal mail into their otherwise digital marketing strategies.

Jody Berenblatt
Senior Advisor

Identity & the Walled Garden
A big topic here for us at Alliant Data and our clients (and the rest of the world) is mastering Identity Resolution and all that goes along with Cross-Device IDs. Any solutions/companies mastering this will be popular folks in 2018.

In addition, the Consortium in the Ad-Tech space hoping to contend with the Facebook/Google duopoly will continue to grow and exist, but not succeed much because at the end of the day, marketers/brands are having too much success with the Big 2. The walled garden will live on. More to come.

Michael Berger
Director of Alliant Consumer Audiences
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Efficiency & Effectiveness through Quality
The pace of change in use of Data for Marketing will continue to accelerate in 2018. Advertising is moving from large, segment-based content to direct, person-based content. The use of data will continue to fuel this transition. In 2018, there will be more emphasis of the quality of the data in identifying and communicating with customers. Past years have focused on quantity of data in order to reach as many people as possible. But the accumulation of vast quantities of data inevitably allows for both high quality and low quality information to be utilized. 2018 will be the beginning of an effort to focus on the higher quality of data in order to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of data driven marketing.

Don Hinman
Dr. Data
dhConsulting

Inspiring Belief During a Crisis of Trust
In a time of deep uncertainty and division people are grappling with a post truth world; with what’s real or fake, with corporations acting in ways that foster mistrust, and with brands taking a stand on issues and in ways they’ve never seen before. The result is a climate of distrust from which nothing is exempt: people’s trust in government, media and business have declined like never before.

This challenge represents a mandate for the data marketing industry: to be leaders during a time of crisis. Showing that brands can earn consumer trust and deepen loyalty by establishing meaningful connections based on the value of mobilized data that elevates experience, marketers can reaffirm the integrity of an industry often viewed with suspicion, one that’s ever greater in the current climate.

John Mullin
SVP, Strategy & Planning

A Paucity of Data Scientists – No More
Market research will increasingly change from an attitudinal art to a behavioral science, utilizing the miraculous and wonderful 21st-century tech stack to measure behavior in response to various stimuli in real time and roll out the most successful test hypotheses in real time.

2018 will pose a historic opportunity for market researchers to fill the gaping hole in data science, which is a paucity of data scientists. Market researchers are the perfect people to take charge of this role and need only to position and credential themselves accordingly.

Market research will increasingly change from an attitudinal art to a behavioral science, utilizing the miraculous and wonderful 21st-century tech stack to measure behavior in response to various stimuli in real time and roll out the most successful test hypotheses in real time.

Expect research on the power of emotional appeals even in B2B to increase, based on the political zeitgeist and the clickbaiting media environment. Behavioral psychographics employed by digital marketers (first and foremost Facebook) are the templates.

Market research will be carried along with the general marketing tide to become more and more identity-based. No longer will a sample be generalized to a population. Individual valences based on a digitally identified person will be developed and leveraged.

Marketers and researchers who master social and mobile will survive; those limited to archaic communications systems such as landlines won’t.

Terry Nugent
Director

Listen to the Data
Much has changed in 2017 and both new as well as not-so-new technology have been taking center stage in the marketing plans of businesses worldwide; yet, none of us shall ever mistakenly ignore real human needs or simple solutions for everyday life by adding new tools without specific purposes or sharing irrelevant content. For good or for bad, technology plays such an important role within society that we sometimes forget the human demands we have to fulfill. So, the ability to listen and to interpret data will be even more important. After all, what is the point of releasing new platforms and treating all your customers the same?

Wladimir Alves
International Key Account Manager

Harnessing the Curation Power of Intelligent Agents
Digital saturation has reached a tipping point. A counter-movement is underway that it poised to grow into a cultural trend: people withdrawing from the noise to a simpler but more personally relevant place. ‘Digital cocooning’ is not unplugging, it’s about filtering out the distractions to focus on connections that matter; a focus on fewer connections that give more meaning. In this light Marketers’ habit of outbound blasts are sure to alienate and will need to evolve. Aggregating individual level data and crafting content choices that are sublimely right for the character not just of the context but the moment will take a dexterity in AI. To prepare for the shift Data Marketers need to get quickly up to speed and learn how applied AI changes the rules of engagement and brings them into the consumer circle – and keeps them there – rather than outside the cocoon.

John Mullin
SVP, Strategy & Planning

Pushing Back Against the “Black Box”
Data science will do more explaining of their algorithms in 2018. Whether they’ve been given random forest or extreme gradient boosting solutions, marketers are going to demand way better explanations on how their data is being used. The black box approach will face increasing resistance. This in turn will impact the data science approaches and the choice of what machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to use. Trade-offs between the most sophisticated modeling techniques and the ability of a marketer to explain what data is driving their business results will veer back in the direction of transparency.

Peter Zajonc
Principal

Education Will Empower Marketers
According to IDC, revenues for big data and business analytics are headed to $203 billion in 2020 moving at a CAGR of 11.7%. The volume of big data is exploding and expected to cross 30 zetabytes by 2018. Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Unstructured Data Platforms are common talking points.

Yet, the vast majority of marketers are only vaguely familiar with the buzz words. They don’t have knowledge of the vast array of available data streams and the myriad different ways in which they could be integrated and analyzed to deliver timely, tailored communications across platforms while meeting budget constraints.

I believe 2018 will focus on the “how to” for data integration, analytics, and application. For this reason, we will see a big push towards Education. Already, we see universities, departments, and professional organization offering a variety of courses, seminars, and webinars to enable and empower marketers to fully leverage the power of data. This trend will continue to grow in the years ahead.

Devyani Sadh, Ph.D
CEO and Chief Data Officer

Co-Chair – DMA Analytics Community

Wow! That’s a lot to take in. Take some time over the holidays and have read. Also check out: