Gartner Predicts 2020

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Gartner’s ‘Predicts 2020’ report has started to get pick-up across the marketing media.

Valve-powered computer detail

The reports top-line predictions of most interest to me in the report are:

  • By 2022, 25% of marketing departments will have a dedicated behavioural scientist or ethnographer as part of their full-time staff
  • By 2023, CMO budget allocation on influencer marketing will decrease by a third 
  • By 2025, 80% of marketers who have invested in personalization will abandon their efforts due to lack of ROI, the perils of customer data management or both, according to Gartner, Inc

Let’s break down these predictions one by one. 

Behavioural scientists and ethnographers

It’s no surprise to us that marketing organisations will incorporate behavioural science expertise into their teams. At the height of its success Nokia famously employed Jan Chipchase as a leader of ethnographers focused on understanding the underlying trends in behaviours related to mobile devices. This in turn fed into Nokia’s design thinking and product marketing. 

Over the past ten years we’ve seen public service providers such as the NHS roll out behavioural thinking into service design – such as signing citizens up for organ donation programmes or improving appointment attendance. We have seen the learnings of the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab used for good and bad applications. The thinking is used in digital healthcare services, which is where Professor Fogg focuses his efforts. But it has also been used to the detriment of the public in designing non-healthcare related apps from mobile games to dating app Tinder. ‘Addictive’ apps usually rely on some of the concepts and model developed by Professor Fogg and his team.  

From a marketing perspective there is an increasing understanding that communications tend to work most effectively when understood through the lens of audience bias’ and ‘cultural imprinting’ – the idea that we all want to be part of what is culturally acceptable.  

Behavioural science and ethnography helps get to the ‘human truth’ at the centre of a creative campaigns. Campaigns is built around understanding the bias’ that have to be addressed in order to initiate the call to action, whether its driving purchase or behavioural change.

Influencer marketing

CMO budget allocation on influencer marketing will decrease by a third

Gartner Predict 2020

Surely this statistic is bad news for the marketing industry?

In a word: No.

It’s a market correction. It is a reflection of a few things that have been happening in consumer marketing:

  • There was an over-enthusiasm for consumer marketers in influencer marketing without any focus on efficiency or effectiveness. The power of influencer marketing as a paid discipline was taken as gospel. So, some of that spend reduction is a market correction rather than a ‘problem’ with influencer marketing. Where consumer marketing was done as earned media without a paid budget there was a focus on size of audience, without asking some key questions. Was the audience actually real? Was the audience actually relevant
  • There was a large amount of inflation in in the cost of reaching a given audience for consumer brands using an influencer strategy. Influencers got an over inflated sense of their self-worth and charged accordingly. When large scale influencers declined in engagement due to the large of large numbers, and were more expensive to use per user – marketers went down the influence line. They then heralded ‘micro’ influencers and latterly ‘nano’ influencers. Something had to give
  • Finally, influencer commerce for consumer brands has been a minefield. Western markets haven’t been able to replicate the same level of success that brands have had working with Chinese influencers. Secondly even agencies don’t know what definitively makes a successful unit-shifting influencer. We were at a PR Week’s ‘What does the future hold for influencer marketing’ event at the end of September. Social agency Goat made an interesting disclosure. They’ve worked with about 100,000 influencers and found that the vast majority didn’t deliver sales for their clients. But more interestingly there was no data about which influencer was more likely to work in social commerce, or what were their reasons for success

Some sectors have approached influencers in a different way. For instance, no one aspires to be an influencer in a given disease area, it is something that happens as part of a coping strategy and a desire to help peers.

Abandoning marketing personalised data

Gartner’s prediction on personalisation is a bit less clear. Some of the media coverage has a fundamental misunderstanding of what data personalisation is in marketing. This makes me a bit leery of Gartner’s claims, based on a presumption that this was sold in as a story to those journalists by Gartner.

Consumer brands have embraced complex technology stacks in order to enrich campaigns and drive efficiency. Marketing personalisation is part of this process.

But the issue has been the imbalance in consumer marketing in terms of focus on efficiency rather than effectiveness. Adidas’ global media director Simon Peel admitted that they had spent too much on digital advertising due to their over-zealous focus on marketing efficiency. Peel is looking to move Adidas back to a more balanced marketing mix.

Secondly, marketing personalisation is turning into a problematic issue for companies when sentiment like Shoshana Zuboff’s is becoming normalised

‘My view is that all of the data that people celebrate as big data is threaded with stolen assets. As law comes on stream, these assets are going to be reinterpreted as toxic assets. Just like the sub-prime mortgages that threaded through the derivatives market and all these financial products were reinterpreted as toxic assets and tanked the market in those financial products.

I believe that day is coming.’

Shoshana Zuboff, author and Harvard Business School professor, Contagious Magazine issue 6

I am unconvinced about Gartner’s move to behavioural / emotional data and AI created ads due to similar privacy concerns. It won’t provide cultural imprinting, talkability or effective campaigns. Secondly, there is a lot of AI snake oil being sold which could leave it more trouble than ever.