How the Marketing Technology Landscape Will Transform in the New Year

We're in the midst of a tech renaissance

Marketing practitioners spend a fair amount of their time at the intersection of the marketing function and the technology that powers it.

Gartner correctly predicted that by 2017, the CMO would spend more than the CIO on IT. In light of the impressive advances in technologies that enable marketing to simultaneously become more automated as well as more effective, over 7,000 technology companies powering the marketing organization through advancements in areas like programmatic, artificial intelligence and machine learning. As firms realize the value of these capabilities, we remain in a technology renaissance, with marketers continuing to own more power within their organizations.

The following are five predictions about shifts we will see in the marketing technology ecosystem next year.

Smaller marketing budgets lead to smaller tech stacks

Through 2017, the marketer was able to build people and budget, two things necessary for power in any organization. The ensuing consequences were overspending, less ROI and a lack of managerial oversight, but the C-suite is getting smarter. It is not surprising that Gartner now predicts that marketing budgets are leveling off. Decreased marketing budgets will require marketers to explicitly justify expenses and demonstrate ROI. CMOs will devote further attention to integration, consolidation and less spend in 2019.

As the technology landscape continues to evolve rapidly, these developments will continue to reshape the way marketing is conducted.

The ROI pendulum will swing back to retention

According to a survey conducted by Invesp Consulting, marketing organizations today spend far more on customer acquisition than retention. However, the cost of acquiring a new customer is five times greater than that of retaining an existing one, and the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 percent.

The importance of retention will get clearer to firms as they increasingly adopt data-based customer-centric strategies as a guiding principle and in parallel adopt advanced customer lifetime value (CLV) models to drive their customer-centric strategy. As I spend more time within the ecosystem, I continue to see a renewed focus on the retention effort.

Offline and online will work

In a report published by Statista, retail ecommerce sales in 2018 are expected to surpass $2.8 trillion dollars globally, and online transactions are growing at three times the rate of offline transactions. However, almost 50 percent of Americans still prefer to shop in-person, and 64 percent of the country’s total shopping budget is spent in-store.

As competition drives improvements in merging these platforms, the disconnect between companies’ offline and online services will reduce and interactions across these channels will become a more fluid process. Traditional department stores who’ve been too slow to invest in online marketing platforms consequently faced waves of closures and shrinking consumer demand. On the other hand, businesses that have successfully merged these platforms captured and retained a significant portion of consumers. As this understanding matures, companies will bring omnichannel capabilities to a level that consumers will truly start seeing the difference.

Beware the walled gardens

For the past decade, tech giants like Google and Facebook have been amassing huge amounts of user data that includes users’ personal information. In particular, Facebook and Google’s data stores account for more than 90 percent of annual growth in the industry. By restricting access to data, massive tech companies have created walled gardens in which virtually all user engagement and digital ads can be controlled by the respective data collector.

Ironically, with the passage of GDPR in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act in California, these walled gardens now have another excuse to not share data with outside parties. For instance, Google has used GDPR as a justification to refuse using user IDs outside its own Ads Data Hub (ADH), which essentially implies that advertisers must port their other outside data into ADH, which Google will then have access to. The new year will be the year of unintended consequences benefitting these walled gardens.

Rise of the machines

As AI continues to revolutionize the digital landscape, marketers will increasingly depend on this technology to maximize consumer reach and sales. According to CB Insights’ top AI list, more than five companies are emerging as top marketing and sales startups: Invoca, InsideSales, Conversica,, Afiniti and Amplero.

Additionally, CRM and marketing players like Salesforce and HubSpot are acquiring and investing in AI companies. AI within marketing technology means more effective customer segmentation, advanced and updated customer analytics and efficient marketing strategies. This will create a domino effect where businesses will want to compete in order to capture consumer demand, leading to the further rise of AI in marketing. The rise of customer data platforms (CDPs) that seamlessly collect and make accessible 360-degree customer data to the regular marketing analyst while completely bypassing the IT department will further lead to the use of AI, as it feeds on data.

Traditional marketing is shifting toward reliance on data analytics, virtual platforms and machine learning through 2019. Companies will continue to integrate IT functions into their marketing departments, focusing especially on customer retention and improving the merging of their online and offline platforms. Observing these trends, we’ve come to a simple conclusion: As the technology landscape continues to evolve rapidly, these developments will continue to reshape the way marketing is conducted. It will be an exciting and interesting year in the marketing technology ecosystem.