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Top Marketing Trends to Know Before 2020

Chelsea Iversen Nov. 25, 2019

Marketers need to be kept in the know when it comes to upcoming trends. Here are some of the top marketing trends we’ve been keeping our eye on as we approach the new year:

  1. It’s all about data transparency
  2. 5G speeds are coming
  3. Generation Z has arrived
  4. Blockchain matters
  5. Voice search isn’t what we thought — yet
  6. AI might see restraints
  7. Multiexperience builds relationships
  8. Upskilling has become unavoidable

Top marketing trends to know before 2020:

1. It’s all about data transparency

Personal data has the spotlight this coming year. According to a Tealium study, 97 percent of consumers are worried about protecting their personal data. Consumers are wise to the way their information is being used online and they’re taking steps to protect their privacy.

The California Consumer Privacy Act, set to go into effect on January 1, will change standards in the U.S. much the way GDPR did in Europe. It’s looking like states like New York and Nevada are following suit, but even if no other state enacts legislation in 2020, CCPA applies to any company in the world that collects data on California residents. If a resident of California visits your ad or website and you use cookies to collect data, you’re responsible for being compliant. In other words, the only brands that don’t need to comply are those that are 100 percent positive they are not collecting data on residents of California (or other states that enact legislation this coming year). Best practice for 2020 is to comply with both GDPR and CCPA wherever possible.

Thanks to legislation like this, personal data collection and use will be monitored and controlled in ways they weren’t before. However, instead of stressing about the privacy restrictions, marketers can see it as a way to strengthen the relationship of trust they have with consumers — a key demand we’ll see from consumers in 2020.

2. 5G speeds are coming

Right now, we’re still operating in a world of 4G. 5G networks, however, are deployed in some cities in the U.S., and the next iteration of the iPhone — set to release in the second half of 2020 — is rumored to have 5G capabilities. So what does this mean for marketers? It’s simple: Marketers who prepare early will be better equipped for the transition to 5G technology. Because of infrastructure constraints, it may be some time before 5G becomes widespread, but marketers need to start preparing in 2020.

5G will enable technology like AI and machine learning to shine, and it will increase the need for faster loading time on webpages since users will quickly begin to bounce from slow-loading sites on lightning-quick networks. Rich creative that engages users and high-quality video are both going to be valuable for marketers and advertisers to build relationships with consumers on 5G next year and beyond.

3. Generation Z has arrived

By next year, Generation Z — the generation born between 1995 and 2012 — will make up 40 percent of consumers. This is a generation that has been raised on digital technology, so access to devices is often an extension of their personas and attention-grabbing creative is a must. They’re thrifty spenders, and freethinkers, which means they’re not likely to follow the status quo without a good reason. This generation is thinking about the climate crisis and chooses brands with a social conscience.

Overall, Generation Z is painting with broad strokes what more consumers are going to want next year and possibly into the foreseeable future. Whereas in the past few years, in a market-driven by Millennials, user experience was the backbone for all things marketing. Going forward, in part thanks to a significant shift in generational consumption, we’re more likely to see consumers looking to form relationships with brands. In 2020 and beyond, it’s not just value but trust and transparency that consumers are going to be wanting most.

4. Blockchain matters

Blockchain has been popular in the areas of finance and cryptocurrencies. It’s also being used as a business tool to enable more transparent supply chain management, which are all part of the customer experience with a brand, creating more transparency for the consumer. Blockchain’s implications for marketers, however, are less discussed but are gaining traction, and the implications are being met with mixed reviews.

Brave, for example, is a browser whose business model is built on ad-free online searches and ad-blocking technology — yikes, that’s potentially an advertiser’s nightmare. However, the company recently launched Brave Ads, which allows ads to get through to opt-in-only users who earn crypto-tokens when they engage with advertisements. Brave has a small user base, but its impact is resonating: Blockchain enables users to seek out more data privacy, and it’s changing the way ads are received by users. This may be the year marketers need to pay attention to blockchain.

Another way blockchain may change the game for marketers this year comes from the results of a year-long project. The project used blockchain to improve the efficiency of online advertising by cutting out interactions with intermediaries, in turn cutting wasteful ad spend significantly. The results from the “IBM blockchain pilot consortium,” the name of the group of brands that participated in the project — which includes Unilever, Kellogg, and AT&T among others — could change online advertising for good. And marketers could start to see those changes in the coming year.

5. Voice search isn’t what we thought — yet

Here, we’re flipping the usual argument. According to Lily Ray and a Path Interactive study published on Search Engine Land, voice search hasn’t quite lived up to the boom it was expected to this past year. In fact, the adoption of voice search has been slower than anticipated according to the study, with older users (over 65) using it the most and younger users (under 21) using it the least.

With this in mind, some of the best advice on how to optimize for voice search comes from Brent Csutoras, founder and CEO of Pixel Road Designs. “If you have something that fits for voice search right now,” says Brent, “then you should absolutely take the steps that you can to participate with it. If you don’t, then definitely just pay attention to it.”

6. AI might see some restraints

Artificial intelligence is not on track to replace marketing jobs in 2020, but it may be able to improve your marketing processes. For example, AI can help select creative for future ads based on the performance of creative you’ve used in the past. It can also understand your customer data to help you deliver more personalization and cater to what each customer wants. There are plenty more examples we could explore, but most marketers know the potential for AI already.

However, the most important takeaway, notes Igor Volzhanin in a Martech Series article, is that AI is not the end-all-be-all for marketing problems. “AI,” he says, “will only ever be as good as the data that you train it on.” And in 2020, privacy laws like GDPR will dictate how AI will help marketers collect and use data. Marketers need to understand its limitations and learn to work with the data they have. Additionally, many brands are sitting on so much data, and it’s unclear how it can all be used. Marketers can use the data they have to train their AI to use the data so it can be applied in a strategic way.

7. Multiexperience builds relationships

Gartner released its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2020, citing multiexperience as number two. To explain what multiexperience is and how marketers are deploying it, the report used Dominos as an example. The pizza delivery business has more than just a mobile app to engage users. It has a smart speaker app, drones and self-driving vehicles for delivery and more to create what Gartner calls a “multiexperience for their customers.” This type of multiexperience engages consumers using multiple touchpoints that create a robust brand experience.

Building multiexperiences for customers is part of the ways brands are going to establish relationships with customers. In the coming year, consumers are looking more to create relationships with brands when in the recent past, consumer focus has been more about delivering a near-perfect product. Multiexperience is the ideal tool to help marketers deliver the relationship their customers want.

8. Upskilling has become unavoidable

Another Deloitte study focused on CMOs revealed that investments in developing new capabilities and knowledge in marketing have increased by more than 10 percent over the last year. And today, 4.7 percent of marketing budgets are devoted to training and development, which doesn’t sound like much, but that’s almost a full percentage higher than it was in August 2018.

Brands are already making investments in marketing knowledge, seeing the benefit of filling the skills gap in the organization. We can expect this trend to continue into next year and beyond as the breadth of marketing capabilities grows.

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