For marketers, innovation can bring about impressive opportunities (like the rise of social media), or throw up obstacles that force them to redirect and rewrite the gameplan (like ad blockers).
The World Wide Web went live in 1991. Smartphones began their rise to prominence in the mid 90’s. Social media in late 1997. Blogging sites in 1999. Facebook in 2006. Snapchat? 2011. Instagram Ads launched just last year.
Here are five tech innovations I’d love to see next.
Fully Integrated Sales and Social
At the moment, social media and sales work together like friends in adjacent cubicles. They can communicate, but they’re still separated by a wall.
It’s not a bad arrangement. Marketers can advertise on popular platforms like Facebook and Snapchat. Social media ad spend grows by billions each year.
It’s a method that works, but the current system requires users to click through to a landing page or ecommerce portal before they can buy or download. The path might be social platform > landing page > product page > shopping cart > confirmation.
That’s a lot of time to lose their interest, have them change their mind, or get frustrated with connections and Wi-Fi.
But imagine the ad or post allowed for instant purchase or download. Like Amazon’s 1-Click Checkout, a fully integrated partnership between social media and marketers would see those 2-5 required clicks disappear. Users could have a product or lead magnet with a single touch. No one has time for multiple clicks!
Over half of people following brands on social media do so to to view their products, while 31 percent use the platforms to browse for things to buy. Let’s make it easy for them.
And marketers would automatically receive data on who, where, when, how, and what.
Come on, Zuckerberg. Get them into the same cubicle.
Improved Beacon Technology
You walk into Starbucks and immediately receive a note promoting their new pumpkin spice macchiato. It’s like magic. That’s beacon tech doing its thing.
Bluetooth low energy (BLE) beacons are tiny transmitters that push messages and information out to nearby devices. Opportunities to use them include discounts, flash sales, greetings, and related content. Because of the timeliness and relevancy, these notifications have a 53 percent open rate, according to Beintoo.
It’s a method that’s gaining traction. Rite Aid recently announced a beacon rollout to its 4,500 US stores.
The issue with the current tech is trifold:
- The beacons require a special app to listen for it.
- Communication is one-way: information is pushed out, but beacons can’t receive data.
- Accuracy is not always that great.
But imagine that these tiny transmitters could talk with, instead of at, people — that messages could freely pass back and forth, and that the beacons used intelligent chatbots to make suggestions, provide coupons for mentioned or nearby products, and answer questions.
Improved accuracy would allow notices based on exactly where: by the jeans display, in the children’s section, or in front of the sale rack. Imagine the upsell and pairing possibilities.
Marketers could collect detailed data from visitors to track movement and time spent in certain areas for future, personalized ads, and content.
Beacons that are smart, two-way, accurate to within a foot, and able to communicate with the phone instead of an app would be game changers in proximity-based marketing.
Perfect End-to-End Attribution
Multi-channel marketing is a must in 2016, taking into consideration print, social media, in-store, email, and even call centers.
Tracking where customers and leads are coming from can be nearly impossible. If someone sees your online ad, clicks, and buys, it’s easy. That’s last touch attribution, one of many conflicting attribution models.
But what if they see that ad, then visit your store, then read a few online reviews and a blog post, then call your toll-free number with a few questions, then check out your Facebook page, before buying from your website? Try tracking that one.
But imagine there was a way to include every channel, every switch, and every point-of-contact. You’d know the exact route someone took from A (awareness) to Z (conversion).
Perfect end-to-end attribution would allow marketers to best allocate budget and their efforts for the channels that are working and bringing in revenue and positive ROI.
Is it possible? Through the integrated use of QR codes on print material, campaign specific phone numbers, proximity, location, and online trackers, and tech that doesn’t even exist yet to collect and analyze all that data, we might get there. Google is doing its part to help.
Dare to dream, right?
One Algorithm to Rule Them All
Speaking of Google, let’s talk about its search algorithm. It’s always changing, always being tweaked. And while it’s commendable that Google wants to improve and refine, enough already.
The search algorithm has had dozens of updates: penguin, pirate, panda, pigeon, hummingbird, “mobilegeddon” — the list is long.
But imagine it all stopped. Imagine Google reached algorithm nirvana and had no need to further update anything. We’d finally be able to wrap our heads around how it all works. We’d be able to learn the ranking factors and design our digital campaigns accordingly.
If Google could hit on the perfect algorithm — a unified theory for the search and traffic universe — and shared that information with marketers, digital marketing and SEO would no longer include guesses and best estimates.
One algorithm to rule them all. You can do it, Google.
These exist. The dream is a reality. PPC campaigns, while generally effective and affordable, have relied on search history and keywords to get seen by the right people.
And while that’s not a bad approach, it could be better. Google recently introduced Customer Match on its Adwords platform. With it, advertisers can target using known email addresses and phone numbers to go after specific individuals.
But imagine we could go further. Imagine we could target by name and activity in the real world. Imagine ads for new toys directed at people who’ve recently visited a rival toy store but left without buying.
The technology doesn’t exist yet — and it would come with hefty privacy concerns — but consider platforms that could collect data on everything you did, everywhere you went, likes, interests, beliefs, values, and even opinions. Online and offline. A digital mind reader, if you will.
Those ads would be laser-focused and identity-based. Terrifying, but precise.
What innovations would you love to see in digital marketing? Which of these do you believe most likely?
Aaron Agius is managing director and cofounder of Sydney-based digital marketing agency Louder.Online.