Often, consumer behavior – especially in the ever-changing digital landscape – can feel like a moving target. And as we’re head-first into the new year, it’s always enlightening to sit down with our CEO and talk shop about what’s happening, what’s ahead, and what we as marketers should – and shouldn’t – be responding to.
Will digital privacy still be an uphill battle for marketers in 2019?
Fundamentally, yes. That’s not anything new, it’s more about marketers looking at new ways to engage authentically so that trust isn’t an issue. Digital privacy hits a lot of this – Facebook revenue, Google search, online advertising, targeting. People say customers don’t care about privacy. But they do care, which is why you see such a revolt against the larger social media firms. So yes, it’s still an uphill battle but this isn’t a new consideration for marketers.
How will voice-activated devices continue to influence consumer habits?
It’s a portal, not an end-game. It’s just an easier way to get to and leverage the IoT world. I have an app for my doorbell, app for my lights, one for the home security system, etc. It’s a lot. And people are going to be tired of having all the apps for this – they’re going to want to have it all feed into a voice hub (Alexa, Portal) so they can say “do this.” That’s the convenience; the concern is how much is being recorded, transferred, and used in other ways.
How do we differentiate between the cloud and something like Alexa?
I don’t think we do – for many consumers and customers, it’s all the same. The difference is in the perception of the threat to our personal information. People are more comfortable now with not having their stuff local. More information is being pumped into the cloud every day. Even putting my tax information into TurboTax is totally open/cloud based now.
How should marketers be preparing to respond to this?
Marketers need to understand and adjust for consumers’ willingness to forego privacy for convenience. It really comes back to good practices. How you’re transferring data, how you’re accessing your customers. Making sure that’s all clear to your customer base that this is how you’re taking care of their information and most importantly, in plain language, what are you using that information for.
Do you think people read privacy policies?
Not at all. Because they are complex, intentionally no less. If companies make them better, people will read them. The information is important and consumers do care about it – it’s just that the standard language is so lawyered-up, the information is unapproachable.
Is brick-and-mortar in trouble?
I recently read in eMarketerthat brick-and-mortar is actually getting a shot in the arm thanks to digital and I agree. Things like cashierless checkout are upgrading the in-store experience and as a result, becoming more relevant to customers. For example, I go on Home Depot’s website, send info to my phone, then go to the store. It’s almost a necessity for retailers to leverage digital media to enhance their in-store experience. I still think people like the shopping experience; there’s still an affinity for it. And despite the ease of shipping, buying from a retailer online knowing you can take the shipment back to the store if you need to – and avoid the boxing and shipping – is a big plus.
What about traditional cable? Are there any pitfalls coming?
Ad targeting has to improve. Overall, it’s just a matter of traditional TV/cable companies getting with the times. The concept that they’re the gateway to entertainment is threatened. It’s going to be challenging for marketers to answer to that. That said, with connect rates going up the last few months, it’s clear that the concept of a household has changed and the IoT world is driving some, especially younger audiences, to say, “I still want an internet pipe into the apartment/house.”
Where does email live in this evolving ecosystem?
That’s a great question. It’s almost like for the younger generation it’s gone away. Email for kids is like snail mail for us boomers. It still has a place in ecommerce to email return reasons/shipping slips and questions on products and the like, but it’s certainly not the “go to” communication platform outside of work for the millennials and younger.
Does that present any opportunities for marketers?
If done well, you can use it to cut through the clutter. But standing out is hard. It’s a very over-used and abused platform. And that’s reflected in how people are using it. We can tell who the millennials are – because they have thousands of messages in their inbox. To me, that’s an indicator of how frequently and effectively marketing messages are getting through.
What are the top tools marketers should have in their toolkit for 2019? A DMP? A strong agency relationship?
Everyone is throwing a tool at their problems. Tools are great and it’s important to remember they’re not singular solutions to the problems marketers are facing. Strategy is the answer, tools are the tactics. It should be more about your strategy. Look at how you’re bringing a digital world and an analog world together to do a good job. What are the challenges of bringing together your online and offline media to be able to look at the entire ecosystem of your media and consumer relationships? And most importantly, how are you responding to that?