CMO’s Notebook: ADI’s Gaffney Lays Out The Future Of Marketing

Adobe Digital Index principal Tamara Gaffney provided a preview of her Adobe Summit 2016 presentation for the Silicon Valley Executive Network’s “CMO Futures Series.”

CMO’s Notebook: ADI’s Gaffney Lays Out The Future Of Marketing

As a CMO working with tech startups, I’m fortunate to be a member of the Silicon Valley Executive Network, where CMOs and C-suite leaders collaborate to sharpen their swords. Brian Reynard, founder and CEO of SVEN, has developed a new platform, called the “CMO Futures Series,” with CMO-centric and C-suite-concentric programming aimed at preparing for the future of marketing and business.

One person who has much insight on the topic is Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst of the Adobe Digital Index research team. Earlier this month, the “CMO Futures Series” asked Gaffney for a preview of her “Future Telling 2016” presentation that she will share at next week’s Adobe Summit (click here to register).

The following insights and predictions, in Gaffney’s words, offer a glimpse into her 2016-and-beyond crystal ball so that you, too, can get prepared for what’s ahead.

On Mobile

Two years ago, my “ADI Future Telling” prediction was that 2014 would be the year of mobile. Indeed, the biggest thing going on now is the shift to mobile devices. Industry by industry, we are seeing that mobile is starting to become the primary way people access digital content. The mobile revolution is even more advanced outside the U.S. in terms of how much impact it has. It doesn’t matter where content comes from anymore. Brands are going to be competing with each other from around the world. If you are not ready for this, you are going to be in trouble.

CBS gave us a big clue about the future of advertising on mobile at the Super Bowl. When advertisers paid $5 million for a 30-second Super Bowl TV commercial, they got mobile, too—it was bundled for the first time. I think this is going to take place much more often. They can’t monetize the traffic well enough on mobile to be a standalone business, so they are going to bump up the rates, call it everything, and sell it to advertisers. This is going to cause the advertising agencies to make sure they have the content ready for traditional, mobile, and Internet all at once.

On Ad Blocking

Because of poor user experiences on mobile, more people are installing ad blockers. We calculated that $8 billion in revenue has been lost in the industry so far. This is a problem if this is how we are going to use the mobile phone. As marketers, we are going to kill ourselves in terms of how we have the ability to advertise on mobile devices.

This backlash against advertising on mobile is a big deal. By the time Generation Z becomes consumers, awareness advertising will be over. There is hope that my prediction will not be true—I really don’t like this one—but it will be the death of awareness-building advertising if we don’t as an industry get ourselves righted fairly soon. This situation, where there are all of these ads on a mobile device, will cause more people to install ad blockers, and then there will be ad blocker wars. The consumer is telling us, “It is too much, back off, do something better.”

On The Internet Of Things

There is joyful anticipation for the Internet of Things (IoT). The IoT is going to become mission-critical and a much bigger deal than even I can imagine. There will be IoT that will save lives in the wellness space, like crib mattresses that read your baby’s sleep cycle and vibrates them back to sleep, and for monitoring food and medication activity, and diagnosing illness.

The more mission-critical an IoT product gets, the more consumer backlash there will be for any failure. We are already seeing articles about high-tech cars having a lot less reliability because if the sensors, network, or connection fail, it is a really big deal. So we will see a roller coaster of IoT going up and down—being the greatest thing ever and then the worst thing ever. This will put a lot more pressure and responsibility on tech companies and brands, especially for things that are life and death.

The IoT will also present challenges for bandwidth. Is bandwidth a human right and social entitlement? It might be in the future if people need IoT things to keep their children and older relatives alive. Bandwidth demands from IoT, smart TV, computers, and mobile phones are growing. Combine this with Internet providers’ losing other sources of revenue, causing prices to go up, resulting in a consumer outcry and increased government scrutiny. What will happen if people can’t get bandwidth, or it is too expensive, or there are too many people on the network at the same time? What will happen when we can’t afford it or we can’t get enough of it? This could become a real societal problem that gets really intense in the future.

On Ad Tech Becoming Mar Tech

Ad tech will start to be called mar tech because the ad business will be less a factor relative to the whole marketing machine that has to take place. That includes content, storytelling, engagement, and other ways of being helpful and being a real person as a brand.

On Virtual Reality And Augmented Reality

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (VR) will have a lot of initial applicability in B2B, operations, manufacturing environments, health care, and retail. It is still early days. There is a lot of potential for marketers and advertisers to be in these environments with nontraditional communication, like you see in gaming. It will take two years before VR hype materializes into sales.

On 2016 As The Year of Identity

We will see a lot going on in identity. We each already have nine-plus identities online. Every browser is a different identity—every device is a different identity—and when you change devices, like getting a new phone every 18 months, you have a new identity. We are getting to be like Humpty Dumpy. The problem with the digital world is companies don’t know how to put you back together again. So my prediction is that 2016 is going to be the year of identity.

There are a lot of conversations about privacy, security, and creepiness, and it is going to get bigger. As a consumer, I do want to be known in some sense—but not in a creepy sense. Additionally, biometric authentication will overtake passwords by 2020—for example, MasterCard’s Selfie Pay, heartbeat, and fingerprint biometrics. If you aren’t using biometrics, you will fail at mobile.

On Thinking Differently And Bigger

The challenge for marketers is that we have to start thinking of ourselves very differently, and technology is not going to lead. Think of this like making clothes. Technology companies are basically going to be making the thread. Marketers are making the fabric with texture, color, and patterns. Consumers are making the clothes. So we have to think of ourselves as an enabler of a very raw-materials process that can go into making a piece of clothing that the consumer wants to put on. It is going to be a very different world for tech companies because they are basically going to be trying to develop ingredients, and then turning them over to marketers to figure out what to do with these ingredients. This might actually benefit ad agencies because if they can elevate their game and figure out what to do with these new ingredients, they might be able to help marketers who are struggling to figure it out and shift right now.

CMOs need to think way bigger. It’s not just about marketing. Marketing is everything, and everything is marketing. It’s not just CMOs who need to know about these transformations; all functions will need to know. Even if something like VR isn’t going to happen for 10 years, if we are not talking about it now and developing strategies, then in 10 years we will have the same thing that happened with mobile, where we are still trying to catch up. The first thing is to figure out where we are going or what might happen, and then the next thing is to take bigger risks and be willing to fail a lot more than we have.

I have some advice for CMOs and the C-suite, borrowed from the movie “Kung Fu Panda,” regarding taking risks to march into the future: “If you only do what you can, then you will only be what you are.”