What’s next for tech and marketing?

What do virtual influencers, data security and consumer centricity have in common? They’re all major 2020 marketing and advertising trends.

Presented at morning event The Drum Predictions, the Drum and its partners offered a few key trends for this year and beyond.

The recent CES event in Las Vegas, displaying technological innovations in consumer electronics, took centre stage. For B2B tech marketers such as ourselves, tech innovations will go beyond changing our lifestyles: they’ll entirely change both what brands and products we market, and how we go about it.

Industry experts identified trends likely to shape the industry in 2020:

The needle will swing back towards creativity
As automation takes over more repetitive, manual tasks that require less skill, marketers’ time will be freed up for more creative pursuits. There’s been a focus lately on hiring talent with practical digital skills such as SEO and analytics, but creativity remains crucial for successful campaigns. Marketing teams will need to balance the two skillsets.

Data and privacy will become even more pertinent
Post-GDPR and Cambridge Analytica, privacy is even more important for businesses. New regulations such as EU Data Privacy will come into effect in 2020. As marketers harness more data to inform strategies – and as technology becomes more sophisticated – privacy will need to be a top concern.

The industry is also set to lose third-party cookies, forcing advertisers and marketers to reassess how they measure the success of online campaigns.

Influencer marketing will change and grow
Influencer marketing isn’t going anywhere, but it is evolving. There’ll be less focus on celebrities, and more attempts to influence ordinary people; or influencers among their peer groups. For the B2B industry in particular, micro-influencers will be of growing importance. Perfectly suited to the smaller, more focused or targeted groups of people that B2B marketers typically speak to, micro-influencers enjoy less reach, but far greater engagement than their broad-appeal celebrity counterparts.

The Drum also expects to see more virtual influencers, a perhaps unsettling product of AI that nonetheless carries none of the reputational risks real-life influencers do!

Marketers will develop a customer-first mentality
A client-centric outlook shouldn’t be anything new, you’re hopefully already thinking about your customers as you create campaigns. Yet there does seem to be a trend that places a renewed focus on client-first. With trust low and cynicism high, customers rely on friends, colleagues and family for brand recommendations more than ever. For some brands, eschewing traditional channels in favour of referral marketing could harness that power in a cost-effective way. It’s about meeting people where they are, rather than broadcasting to the masses.

Current trends appear to point to one macro-trend: a return to humanity – whether that’s more sophisticated data gathering with a human feel, or valuing people and their creativity now that AI is a bit more commonplace, better understood or less sensationalised. That’s not to say that the marketing industry is done with AI – far from it. Just that there’s a push to combine AI with human skills in order to get the best results possible.

The Drum Predictions 2020 took place on the morning of 21 January 2020 at the Sea Containers London. View the full speaker and partner list.