The marketing industry is going through a massive transformation with technology changing the game as we know it. Creating compelling experiences in both physical and digital environments is key to success in the months ahead; the technology to do this is out there and becoming more widely used. But what else can brands do to stand out from the crowd, and will the term ‘digital marketing’ be a thing of the past? Not quite yet, I’d argue.

Automated technology used for real-time insight

Let’s begin with data. The value of data to build more personal relationships with customers is undisputed. But if you think about the proliferation of devices, there is an increasing amount of information to process, and this can be overwhelming.

In the near future, I believe more brands will realise that testing new content and campaigns with live consumer traffic will be near impossible to manage. Instead, growing use of automated technology will make this process continuous and consistent, allowing marketers to apply insight and buy and sell digital ads in real-time. For businesses to gain competitive advantage, tools need to be agile and flexible, yet powerful enough to deal with the complexity and breadth of the data. This will be a real focus point for brands.

Predictive analytics will be the #1 skill in demand

We are reaching a point where most organisations have moved out of diagnostic analytics and into the predictive realm. This is because we’re past the age of not collecting enough data, and it’s now about gaining insights and taking action.

Looking at data from ITJobsWatch, we have already seen the number of permanent IT jobs looking for ‘predictive analytics’ skills jump 241% in the past two years, and I expect this skill to be in even bigger demand in 2016 as companies take this capability to the next level. It’s the new competitive advantage and will be a really interesting space to watch.

Personalisation breaks away from traditional platforms

Digital marketers have been refining their approaches to personalisation for years, and now traditional media marketers want a slice of the action. Consumers are weary of mass advertising so TV, video, radio and signage platforms must now tailor content for each individual consumer. This means adapting their model to incorporate personalisation best practices with much of the granularity that digital marketers have practiced for years. The boundaries of traditional advertising will be pushed further than they ever have been in the year ahead, driven by consumer demand for a more personal, targeted and seamless experience.

Email marketing gets a makeover

This personalised approach is imperative across all forms of marketing, and brands are coming to realise that unless they re-invigorate their email operations in 2016 they could be at risk of losing a powerful marketing channel. Email is over 40 years old, yet still has the ability to drive sales and secure customer loyalty and, earlier this year, consumers told us it is still their preferred way to receive marketing offers. But the days of batch and blast-style messages are over and to keep consumers engaged, marketers need to prioritise quality over quantity and deliver contextually relevant offers and promotions.

Digital marketing will still be a valid term

And finally, one question I am often asked is whether the term “digital marketing” is on the way out. Well, it certainly won’t be around forever, but it’s time is not over yet and companies will still be talking about it in the year ahead. We’ve seen in recent years the barriers between our physical and online worlds becoming weaker, and the growing use of in-store technologies (such as iBeacons and interactive displays) is a good example of how digital marketing has broken away from the confines of our computers and mobile devices. Eventually, just like cloud computing is becoming simply “computing”, we’ll see the same happen for marketing. However, until all marketers are cross-platform experts, organisations need dedicated digital specialists to lead the charge.


By: John Watton, EMEA Marketing Director, Adobe


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