New Tenets of Digital Marketing: #1 Recruit for Human Intelligence

This post is the first tenet in our series The New Tenets of Digital Marketing.

The growth in digital marketing channels and the rapid evolution of consumer technology has forever transformed the marketing landscape. With the transformation that has taken place, where does this leave the role and responsibilities of marketers today? More importantly, what are the skills and expertise needed for the modern marketing org? Understanding the evolving role and capabilities of technology will be crucial in order for marketing leaders to define and develop effective teams to meet today’s challenges.

To date, the expansion of digital marketing and the adoption of new technologies has translated into more work for marketing teams. Due to these new demands on bandwidth, marketers have been pulled away from their core purpose of customer centricity to manage time-consuming tasks such as bid adjustments, keyword expansion, rotating creatives, and more.

However, with more sophisticated technologies, like autonomous AI-powered ad tech, coming to market, we are beginning to see a tipping point. These robust technologies are ushering in a new tier of benefits for marketers – taking on the heavy lifting of time-consuming, rote tasks, allowing faster and more informed decision-making, and enabling the ability to modify ad spend and execute targeted marketing campaigns in real-time.

In this post, we’ll uncover how these new technologies are elevating the role of marketing organizations and marketers, and what skills CMOs and marketing leaders should be developing and hiring for in 2019 and beyond.

How New Tech is Powering Marketing Organizations

Today, informed marketing leaders are adopting innovative technologies, specifically autonomous AI capabilities, and tapping into newfound advantages over the market. These include:

  • ‘In-sourcing’ rote, mechanical tasks. By leveraging autonomous AI, marketers can boost productivity with an ‘incremental’ workforce, without multiplying the size of their teams. By letting the machines take on manual, time-consuming tasks, technology is helping to increase bandwidth and allow marketing teams to perform beyond their size.
  • Making more and better decisions. New autonomous AI technologies arrive at optimal spend thresholds by analyzing hundreds of targeting and creative variables and making decisions in real-time – a task that would take human counterparts many months and advanced skill sets to run as effectively, let alone take action on. Leveraging autonomous AI enables marketing teams to make more confident decisions based on more conclusive data, multiplying their productivity.
  • Unifying Silos. One of the least addressed benefits of autonomous AI technologies is its ability to enable marketers to see through silos of data and to access a more complete view of the advertising landscape. By applying the power of AI across channels, marketers gain access to holistic insights into channel performance, audience segments, and return-on-investment, informing initiatives across the marketing org.

How Machines are Elevating the Role of Marketers

Today, we are seeing emerging technologies, specifically, new AI technologies, start to turn the tide and improve marketing bandwidth. The first phase of AI introduced assisted AI technologies, which helped to accelerate data processing and optimization suggestions, enabling marketers to see where campaign efficiencies could be gained, much more quickly than before. However, the responsibility to take meaningful action on the analysis still required human time and bandwidth.

With Autonomous AI, the role of the machine becomes greater and the technology moves beyond the operational tasks of number crunching and data analysis to decision-making and execution. By moving monotonous, time-consuming tasks to machines, the marketers’ role can become more strategic.

What the Modern Marketing Org Should Look Like

How do new technological capabilities impact the division and collaboration of marketing responsibilities between human and machine? What are the pivotal marketing skills to hire for today? How should CMOs and marketing leaders think about the allocation of resources across their marketing organizations?

As machines take on more of the mechanical tasks, marketing leaders can focus on developing and expanding their capabilities. For organizations that are employing autonomous AI capabilities, we have identified four key areas that will drive significant impact within marketing organizations in 2019 and beyond:

  • Data Analysis. With more data being collected than ever before and greater machine-powered analytics capabilities, marketing teams will need individuals who can identify the story and insights behind the data for the purpose of taking meaningful action.
  • Media Strategy. As the interplay of all channels and devices online and offline continue to evolve and the customer journey becomes more complex, teams will need individuals who know how, where and with what messages to connect with audiences to draw them closer to the brand.
  • Creative Storytelling. Increased competition for audience attention demands compelling campaigns that attract, pique, and engage audiences. Teams will – more than ever – need creative minds who understand the role of original thought and the art of advertising.
  • Connectors. As campaign strategies address more channels and customer segments, marketers’ ability to connect learnings across brands, portfolios and their organization will become the key to meaningful and sustainable change.

As we’ve uncovered, today’s digital marketing landscape is complex and rife with competition for customer attention. In order to be effective, marketers will need to focus on their core function and what they do best – delivering on human empathy, creativity, and innovation – here’s a before and after visualization. Meanwhile, machines will be pivotal in helping marketers to achieve this, by managing, analyzing, and making optimizations off data in real-time. This transformation will not happen on its own, but rather marketing leaders will need to be strategic in both the adoption of key technologies and in developing and hiring for the roles and skills needed for the modern marketing org.

Read more in our second post of the series – Tenet #2: Winning at Every Stage of the Customer Journey.

Introducing the New Tenets of Digital Marketing

Marketers looking out at today’s digital advertising landscape see a tidal wave of change, with new rules to play by and an increasingly elusive path to success. Many are frustrated by the sheer number and complexity of data sources, overwhelmed by the deluge of tech tools, and suspect that somewhere along the way, they’ve lost sight of the fundamental marketing goals of brand building and audience connection.

Struggling to keep pace with innovation and to meet resource constraints, marketers say they have been more focused on defending ROI than on pursuing brand transformation. In place of time spent on strategy, category disruption, messaging creativity, and the customer experience, marketing leadership is focused on how to stretch resources and often finds their teams bent on daily, rote tasks like creative rotations and bid adjustments.

As pioneers in autonomous AI, Albert’s aim is to help marketers regain their true north. We are paving the path forward in the post-digital era to unravel the evolving rules of digital advertising, the role of autonomous AI, and the new tenets that will enable marketers to drive transformative business impact.

Before we share our path forward, we’ll take a look at the critical developments accelerating change and compelling innovation in the market today:

#1 From Mass to Hyper Niche

For more than a decade, marketers have relied on paid advertising on major digital platforms such as Facebook and Google as a primary tactic to drive brand awareness, customer acquisition, and conversion. As these platforms reach advertiser and audience saturation, new platform adoption slows, and audiences split their attention across platforms and devices, we find increased spend doesn’t necessarily translate to increased return. 

Marketers in this ecosystem are realizing they can no longer win by simply increasing budgets, but that they need to deploy many micro-optimizations (at greater frequency) in order to achieve macro gains again. Winning strategies today are those that lean on actionable learnings to guide media optimizations at each phase of the customer journey, uncovering optimal and tailored methods of catching attention amidst advertising chaos, piquing interest with the right messaging shown to the right audience, and delivering utility where it’s most appreciated. It is a movement away from blunt strokes in media execution to hyper niche targeting and creative messaging. 

In order to maintain gains in a saturated marketplace, marketers have moved to invest heavily in niche approaches – and subsequently overhauled the way media operations, partner relationships, and investments look to match.

#2 Reaching for the Longtail

As audiences have shifted their attention and time spent to smaller, endemic platforms, they created a new and significant opportunity for reach and revenue generation that brands could not ignore. However, trying to reach customers in the longtail presented additional, complex challenges for marketers – now compelled to consider the pros and cons of investing in programmatic, dynamic creative, and the tradeoffs that follow. Ultimately, digital marketers betting on the promise of programmatic to deliver efficient reach against dynamic and niche audiences, have often been disappointed. In an effort to maximize efficiency, effectiveness often took a backseat. Marketers learned that substantial investment (both time and money) is required to move ad budgets manually against valuable micro audience groups, often missing the true opportunity of incremental audiences. 

Digital marketers have begun to demand more sophisticated tools to help plan, build, optimize, and measure audience activity in the face of growing platform complexity and a returning focus to effectiveness, not just efficiency. 

#3 Managing Data Complexity

The customer journey continues to move toward greater complexity and marketers find they need to do more – just to stay in the game. To supplement the hard work of developing traditional and dynamic creative, creating compelling media plans and relevant buys, they insist on more robust measurement and analysis to see their audiences in full view and take more meaningful action.

In an effort to solve for this, marketers look to new tech partners to fill in the gaps in the story. Data vendors offer reams of data on web behavior, mobile insights, shopping propensities, influencer affinity, credit card purchases – resulting in many partial views. And campaign management tools bring to market specialized capabilities that offer another snapshot of the full picture, such as measuring discrete phases of the journey, providing siloed optimization, or calculating ROI by single channel. Such additions to the tech stack often compound complexity, despite the intention to simplify. And still, holistic views such as full funnel ROI, cross-channel optimizations, and comprehensive analyses of the customer journey remain critically absent

Marketers continue to crave actionable insights across their efforts. This coveted state remains out of reach due, in part, to the inability to assess and take action from the data that lives across their tech stack. 

The Path Forward

The way we see it at Albert, marketers must develop innovative strategies fit for this new landscape in order to create and sustain gains. By doing so, we reclaim the greater and original function of marketing: building a powerful brand and audience connection. 

In this series, we’ve mapped the key tenets of digital marketing as they apply to brands today, with the aim of guiding advertisers through tumultuous change in the post-digital era. We’ll touch on how to hire and deploy the right teams to win the machine + human opportunity, we’ll share our approach to pursuing customer obsession successfully, and unveil methods of maximizing your data use and application. In each post, we will share our view on how marketers can employ autonomous AI to achieve renewed marketing impact in today’s landscape and ultimately, restore its greater purpose. 

Read more in our first post of the series – Tenet #1: Recruit for Human Intelligence.