How Technology is About to Profoundly Change the Way We Approach Marketing

Josh Hunt
Josh Hunt
Apr 24, 2016 · 7 min read

This article was originally published on my personal blog at http://iamjoshhunt.com/how-technology-is-about-to-completely-transform-marketing/.

A question I get asked frequently at job interviews, by clients, by colleagues, and anyone with a vague interest in marketing is “how do you keep up to date with all the current developments?”.

It’s an important question these days. Technology, particularly in marketing, is advancing at such a pace, that if you were to simply ignore the technological environment for just 6 months, you’d probably be labelled a “dinosaur”.

In this article, I’ll give you examples of some incredibly disruptive technologies that have the potential to completely revolutionise the marketing landscape and transform the way we interact with the web and with each other.

Hopefully this will get you to begin thinking about how the future is going to affect you and your career/business.

Radical New Technologies

Certain technologies that, until now, we’ve only seen prototypes of, are starting to emerge in the marketplace. To run through some of the more disruptive technologies take a look at the list below.

  • Augmented reality (AR)

This is a small list, and some would argue that compared to other significant technological advancements such as nanotechnology and robotics, these aren’t that radical at all. But, when it comes to marketing, each one is a game-changer in it’s own right and I’ll cover some of them now to give you some idea.

Augmented Reality

When it comes to disruption, Augmented Reality (AR) is right up there.

If you’re unaware of AR or are unsure of exactly what it is, put simply, augmented reality is where a computer generated image is superimposed onto the real world through a screen or a lens.

To give you an idea of exactly how important this technology is, Microsoft are betting big on it and believe that AR represents the future of computing. Take a look at the video below to get an idea of exactly what sort of experience we can expect from AR devices.

Augmented reality opens up an endless set of possibilities for marketers and needs to be fully explored going forward.

Imagine live promotions being displayed in real-world shop windows, imagine simply looking at a chocolate bar and live information is fed to you regarding nutritional content, imagine looking at a product in a shop and getting instant price comparisons in your field of vision. These are just a few basic examples. Augmented reality has the ability to turn our real-world environment into a giant video game, and essentially opens up the potential for advertisers to advertise anywhere they want, in a personalised, immersive, and geo-specific manner.

These are exactly the kind of things that will be possible with this technology when it’s delivered to the masses in the form of a consumer product. The opportunities, and threats, this presents marketers is incredible.

Virtual Reality (VR)

When people hear the term “virtual reality” they normally think of 80’s and 90’s sci-fi films such as Lawnmower Man and The Matrix. What a lot of people don’t realise is, virtual reality is going to be on the mass consumer market very soon as the first high end VR products have started hitting the market.

One of the biggest pieces of marketing news to hit the wires back in 2014 had to be Facebook’s acquisition of the tech startup Oculus VR. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Oculus VR, they’re a company that have created a VR headset called the Oculus Rift.

Most marketers don’t yet understand the significance of this acquisition, and many simply believe that Facebook paid a ludicrous sum of money for some geeky gaming gimmick that’s nothing but a fad.

Obviously, I couldn’t disagree more with this sentiment.

Whilst I’m not the world’s biggest Facebook fan, I see this acquisition as a stroke of genius on their part because it is going to introduce the world to the next generation of commerce. V-commerce or (virtual commerce).

Imagine being able to visit a giant virtual shopping mall where you can get up close and personal to products you want to buy. Imagine being able to sit down and view the interior of a car you’re intending to buy from the comfort of your own home. Imagine being able to walk around a hotel you’re thinking of staying in when you go on holiday to decide if it’s a good choice or not.

I could go on forever giving examples here, but I’ll leave it to your imagination.

Virtual reality offers it’s users the opportunity to enjoy a fully immersive experience. The switched-on marketers out there must already be salivating at the prospect of providing fully immersive marketing experiences because they’ll revolutionise everything. In fact I think the term immersive marketing deserves a hashtag, #ImmersiveMarketing.

Imagine being able to manage a user’s virtual environment. You could have a crowd cheering their name, you could launch them into space, you could have them front row at a virtual rock concert.

Again, the possibilities are endless and the amazing thing about this is, consumers will want, and demand, to interact with these experiences, providing you with the perfect opportunity for some incredible brand and product exposure. Marketing on steroids!

Wearable Devices

Wearable devices have already hit the market and are starting to take off in a big way. We’re seeing fitness devices and smart watches capture a great deal of attention in the media. And of course, the iWatch also needs a significant mention in this category.

The interesting thing about wearables is that they’re changing the way we interact with our technology. Whilst pretty much everyone has their smartphone on them at all times, wearables represent a shift in consumer acceptance of smart technology in a way that suggests they’re ready for a higher level of personal data collection and technological integration. After all, wearing a device is very different to simply carrying one.

Whilst the current lineup of wearable devices are there to compliment your smartphone, future developments could begin to remove the need for smartphones altogether, similar to how tablets have begun reducing demand for laptops and desktops.

This provides marketers with a lot to think about on a number of different levels. It also raises some very interesting questions that I’ll cover in the summary at the end of this article.

Voice Recognition

When you think of voice recognition technology, you probably think of Siri or Google’s voice search, and recently, Microsoft’s Cortana. In all cases, voice recognition is less than perfect and provides a pretty clunky user experience. This is beginning to change though.

We’ve already seen significant improvements to Siri, and Google’s voice search appears to be improving all the time.

Voice recognition is a bigger deal than most people are making it out to be. As the technology improves it will begin to transform the way we interact with our devices and the web. Google are already betting big on voice recognition to the point where they’ve made big changes to their search algorithm to give precedence to conversational keyword strings. It seems Google believe’s we’ll be speaking our search queries in the future as opposed to typing them.

Voice recognition also ties many of the other technologies together. There is no room for a keyboard and mouse when immersed in a virtual environment, and Microsoft’s HoloLens would offer a pretty rubbish experience if you had to carry around an external controller for it. Voice is being pursued as the perfect solution for this.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The last major technology I want to talk about that appears to finally be emerging on the market is the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things refers to everyday objects that have a certain level of network connectivity and are able to send and receive data.

Some examples here include smart fridges, smart mirrors, and even smart toilets. If you take a smart fridge for example, by using RFID, and NFC technology, your fridge could potentially know everything you currently have in it. As you begin running out of certain items it could automatically populate a shopping list for you and either send the list to your smartphone when a grocery shop is needed, or potentially, even order your shopping for you.

Obviously you don’t need to be an expert to spot the countless opportunities this could provide marketers. Your smart fridge could include price comparison software, notify you of offers on items you regularly buy, make product suggestions based on items currently in your fridge, and the list goes on and on.

What does this all mean for marketing?

As I highlighted earlier, when you combine these technologies, marketers will be able to create some incredible consumer experiences. Immersive marketing is likely to be the future of marketing if these technologies achieve broad consumer acceptance.

This also has some pretty significant ramifications when it comes to current thinking in marketing. What most of these technologies represent is a move away from traditional mouse and keyboard interactions. Touchscreen technology has begun to do this already to some degree, but some of the technologies mentioned in this article, when combined, are likely to cause a more profound and aggressive transition.

These technologies are also beginning to move beyond the traditional eyeballs-on-screen relationship we all have with the web. If we see these technologies come to prominence, it may require web developers to rethink the purpose and functionality of websites and apps as the web will have a much greater level of integration and fluidity within our lives.

When will all this happen?

There is obviously a great deal of conjecture in this article. For all we know virtual reality will flop when it fully hits the market and the HoloLens and Oculus Rift will fail to attract the interest I’m assuming they will. Also, these transformations aren’t going to happen overnight. As we know, adoption of new technologies takes time and some of the developments I’m suggesting will require these technologies to reach critical mass in terms of consumer adoption.

That said, I think we’ll see some massive developments over the next 5 years with the bigger brands out there embracing some of these new technologies and leading the way for what could be a giant revolution in marketing.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, please feel free to leave a comment below and please share this article with your network.

Josh Hunt

Written by

Josh Hunt

Director of Marketing and Media Strategy at Dialect, Inc -working with some of the world’s biggest tech brands. Happy to share my knowledge.