Twelve marketing matters that matter in 2020


Trust with customers is won in drops and lost in buckets. The small incremental surprises and delights for customers soon add up, as does dealing with issues genuinely and quickly. Trust fuels integrity, and integrity is the second-biggest driver of excellent customer experiences according to a recent KPMG report. Delivering on promises and doing the right thing are the major contributors to building trust, according to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer.

Launch of 5G

As marketing becomes more personalised, particularly through smartphones, the ability of 5G to analyse more data from more ­places more quickly, will provide brands with even better opportunities to engage with their customers. Particularly when 5G will ­unlock the power of data from IOT devices such as beacons, buttons and smart chips. But 170 million 5G phones around the globe by 2021, along with more than 25 billion IOT devices, will make it a reality at scale.


Personalisation was the number one driver of customer experience excellence in the KPMG report. A survey by Marketo found that just over 50 percent of consumers were likely to switch brands if they did not receive personalised communications. Marketing technology investments should be made first with the customer in mind, and any cost efficiencies second. In many cases, coffee shops have been able to do this better than multinational companies.

Digital media

Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat are still growing their media revenues by more than 20 percent year on year, and more than six in 10 marketers intend to spend more on podcast advertising ­during the next 12 months. Google and Amazon are recording growth in digital media revenue of about 20 percent and 40 percent respectively but they are also investing heavily in AI.


Google’s AI investment this year will be close to $US4 billion ($5.9bn), and Amazon’s close to $US1bn. TechRepublic predicts that AI will power 95 percent of customer interactions by 2025. For marketers that means AI can be used to help automate processes, as well as optimising marketing efforts and predicting marketing ROI. For marketers it means even more tools in their armoury; from chatbots, automated form filling to AI-created content, real-time AI-driven media buying, and predictive results.

Voice search

AI has powered the switch to using voice for searching the internet, rather than typing. According to Adobe, one in four people have placed a delivery order via their smart speaker, and nine in 10 say that voice is easier to use and saves time. This means big changes for search marketing, with voice responses meaning no first page of results and algorithms favouring home brands over traditional brands. Another Adobe study found 91 percent of brands are making significant investments in voice: McDonald’s has invested significantly in AI voice technology to support its drive-through ordering.


AI has also been behind the rise of influencer-marketing platforms matching brands with influencers who develop content around the brand to share on social media – based on the awareness that word-of-mouth is still the strongest form of advertising. But watch out for deep fake technology that makes it hard to distinguish ­between Kim Kardashian supporting a product from a Kim ­Kardashian avatar supporting a rival.


The rise of AI, 5G and IOT, personalisation, digital and social media, and voice means an increase in consumer data, and an increase in risk. Major global brands suffered data security breaches last year and other organisations were called out for their ­perceived unethical use of personal data. Regulation is in place in the EU, India and California, and other data-capturing platforms such as Google, have announced they will transition away from cookies. This means customer data (first-party data) will become more of a focus than data secured from other sources (third-party data).


Another issue is to decide what marketing technology (martech) platforms you should use. Martech needs to securely collect, house and sort the data, and it needs to enable personalised marketing messages through digital media, social media, websites and email. There are big players – Salesforce, Adobe, Oracle, and Microsoft – but also thousands of small to medium options.

Marketing mix

A challenge for marketers is how to split their budget in this ever-evolving marketing world. How much should be allocated towards technology to drive better customer experiences versus investments in genuine and helpful human interactions? Mass or segmented marketing versus personalised one-on-one marketing? In-house marketing teams versus external specialist partners? Traditional media versus digital media? Long-term branding campaigns versus short-term ROI-driven campaigns? There is no doubt that ­­long-term brand campaigns and traditional media still work.


Don’t forget the power of an emotional creative idea. It can persuade people to buy something or change their habits and has been proven time and again. The recent much talked about Super Bowl ads are testament to that.


Marketers now have more options in external marketing and communications expertise. For years advertising agencies dominated this space, but their business model has become more reliant on executing campaigns creatively, through media and digital. Many are still doing long-term brand-building campaigns, but others have moved to deliver short-term content and campaigns through AI. At the other end of the spectrum, consulting and accounting firms have entered the strategy and advisory space left vacant by the traditional agency model.

First published in The Australian 20 February 2020


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