Under the Tree in 2020: AI, Political Advertising & Beyond

Did you know there is an election next year?


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At this year’s bountiful predictions banquet, we’ve feasted on DATACX SOLUTIONSRETAIL STRATEGIES…and VIDEO/MOBILE INNOVATIONS.

There is a lot for digital marketers to play with in 2020. At DMN, we’ve also been known to observe a traditional Yankee Swap. If you don’t get something you like, just be patient and wait for something better to be opened.

In our concluding year-end round of 2020 gift giving, we present a grab bag of topics. What’s a marketing tech discussion without a look at the future in AI? We also have some fresh takes on entertainment and political advertising, not to confuse the two. And with all the attention on social media’s much debated role in influencing voters, don’t forget about other landmark events in marketing like the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Political advertising

Political tech spending We’re on track for a $10 billion political ad spend in 2020, up from $6.3 billion in 2016. More money than ever in what promises to be an election that is nastier than ever – what a combination! I expect to see Facebook come under even more scrutiny as we get closer to November, with either or both sides crying foul over what appears on (or is perceived to be blocked by) the social media giant and the spread of misinformation (both foreign and domestic) on the platform. It’s likely a no-win situation for Facebook as far as public perception, but a win-win in terms of the money that will be spent on the platform.

 — Steve Grimes, chief digital officer, AKA NYC

Trusted content will be king An election year is always a big year, but 2020 will bring special challenges and opportunities for advertisers. It’ll be shaped by recent changes in privacy regulations, pressures around “fake” news and advertising, and technology innovations offering more relevant news and ad content. Advertisers ignore consumer needs at their own peril, and consumers want to be able to trust what they see and hear. Our own news consumption studies have shown this over and over. Half of consumers surveyed say they choose news sources based on credibility alone and they like brands that advertise on trusted sites. It’s time for our industry to step up and offer choice and transparency to earn consumer trust. The stakes have never been higher. 2020 will be the year of trust and choice.”

 — Iván Markman, chief business officer, Verizon Media

Streaming reset 2020 will be the year of the paradox for linear TV.  On one hand, cord-cutting is accelerating.  In 2019, it’s believed that 6.4m paid subscribers stopped paying for television and predictions are for 2020 an almost equal, incremental decline.  The erosion of television viewership undermines the entire television business model.  But despite the major market contraction, linear cable & broadcasters are poised for a superb year…The 2020 Summer Olympics are in Tokyo. Every major broadcaster will either reboot or unveil their paid steaming business.  While this is just “Day 1”, this is a step for many broadcasters to innovate and re-engage with their audience.

 — Todd Krizelman, CEO, MediaRadar

5G + personalization As entertainment content continues to grow, proliferation of unlimited mobile data accounts, smarter phones and 5G connectivity will increase consumer streaming and entertainment bandwidth exponentially. Additionally, the personalization of entertainment/video streaming preference will allow splinter viewing to accelerate on mobile screens; and consumers will begin to discover ways to consolidate streaming content on “combined channel” services.

 — Mark Capps, VP, client partner, Merkle

Yankee swap

ATSC 3.0 to NEXTGEN TV In 2019 the Consumer Technology Association renamed ATSC 3.0 into something more digestible for the consumer — NEXTGEN TV. As most now know, NEXTGEN TV is the first major upgrade in broadcast TV since the analog transition to digital broadcasting in 2009, combining over the air (OTA) and in-home broadband to give consumers OTT-like access with greater choice and control. It’s expected to bring interactive features like video-on-demand and advanced emergency alerts for broadcast TV to be delivered free with an over-the-air antenna. In 2020, we’ll start to see the beginning stages of the rollout of NEXTGEN TV by TV stations which will allow broadcasters to deliver targeted ads and alerts and get into the “interactivity space” of digital. However, while there are major station groups that are motivated to lead the transition, it will likely still take about three years before NEXTGEN TV gets to scale.

 — Shereta Williams, President, Videa

Sports go-to-market OTT In 2020 we anticipate continued growth in direct-to-consumer OTT offerings, particularly within specialized sports. We expect teams and leagues to experiment with their go-to-market strategies as they leverage analytics to better understand their audiences. We also foresee them utilizing different content licensing models to extend their brand to broader audiences. –

 — Simon James, director of solutions engineering, Applicaster

Olympics slump Olympic viewership will fall short of expectations for NBC – especially with key demographics. As more and more people cut the cord, many people will be unable to view the Olympics (at least without installing yet another streaming service) – thus, in turn, the Olympics will cease to be “must watch tv” that is talked about over water coolers.

 — Brian McNeill, COO and co-founder, Stringr 

Flexible Facebook, CX More than 90 percent of digital marketing budgets are going to Facebook and Google. While both offer advanced analytics for their advertising solutions, let’s face it – the results are often very biased. The conversion count by each platform includes many scenarios which can roughly be attributed to their own channels. We have a system where the players are also the scorekeepers, which rightfully invites skepticism. As a result, marketers are left without real or credible ways to measure each marketing channel correctly. In 2020, I expect we’ll see more third-party tools that attempt to solve this problem. We might also see more flexibility from Facebook and Google, allowing their advertisers to use different models which will better reflect the actual results. Another shift we’re seeing in marketing is thinking of the full customer experience, instead of fragmented parts of the journey. Take a brand’s website, for example. Companies now understand that the end conversion is a result of all of the different stops visitors make along the way – from the channels each visitor arrived from to the support and website design they experienced. There isn’t one “magic” touchpoint, rather, there everything works together to support conversion. As a result, attribution – and the tools used to track it – will have to become much wider than what it is today. It will need to represent the full customer experience, helping companies better understand what impacted their results.

 — Iris Shoor, CEO, Oribi

Merging experiences, AR & VR I foresee the offline to online experiences (and vice versa) will begin to merge and overlap as we move into 2020. There is an increasing demand for experiences and retail is no longer going to be focused on just selling products but delivering an experience. This is being driven by multiple factors: Millennials demanding more experience over product; personalization thanks to data; and technology through apps as well as AR/VR. Omnichannel: People want to move between the offline and online experiences seamlessly. If a person is in a physical store and likes a product, can they find it easily on the store’s app, save it and then order it from the comfort of their home later? Are they browsing for your product on Instagram and then able to get served a discount online to purchase in store? How can you get them to move fluidly between channels as though it’s one experience, knowing they will research or purchase both on and offline.

 — Bridget Westerholz, managing director, FUSE

Commerce content adjusting to Google changes Publishers worldwide are increasingly investing and experimenting within the commerce content space and some even consider commerce content as one of their most lucrative growth drivers in terms of ad revenue – with some seeing revenues as high as seven figures. In the second half of 2019, however, Google introduced changes to their search algorithms that had varying initial consequences for publishers, with some publishers experiencing revenue decreases as high as 40 percent. We could see these algorithm changes continue to affect revenue streams in 2020. To that end, publishers will have to continue to work with their advertising and technology partners to ensure that the brand equity they have built up over the years is not disregarded in this matter and their content continues to reach and benefit consumers.

— Johannes Wirth, CRO, Global Savings Group


Real-time adjustments The biggest use for AI in the retail sector is improving the customer experience.  You can take real-time signals from your customer behavior and adjust your product set or product suggestions for the next customer. You can show your customers trending items and overall provide them with an instant experience that would take a data analyst days to research, adjust and deliver.

 — Katie Boschele, project manager, Lucidworks

AI-enabled revenue solutions Content has become more readily accessible with more being created every day. When it’s a problem is with discoverability. From an advertiser’s perspective, finding content contextually aligned with a brand, we see a lot of utilization of AI to find and discover these opportunities in this fragmented space.

 — Sean King, EVP, Veritone One

AIOps I believe that AIOps will develop as an umbrella capability that will integrate DataOps, ModelOps and DevOps together. These processes will enable IT to better support the entire continuum of data pipelines, model development, performance testing, model deployment, model monitoring and model refinement at the same pace that DevOps has been operating in the recent past. Eventually it will lead to semi or fully automated systems that enable self-learning and continuous improvement.

 — Radu Miclaus, director of product, AI and cloud, Lucidworks

AI based personalization, dynamic pricing Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been very big buzzwords in 2019 and made some inroads in the eCommerce space primarily via chatbots and some personalization tools. This trend is going to increase substantially in 2020 – the recommendation platforms that provide this capability will significantly increase and more importantly will be accessible to SMB players in addition to the largest enterprises. There will also be new areas within eCommerce where AI becomes relevant next year, primarily as it relates to shipping and pricing. From a shipping standpoint, AI will be used to provide more accurate delivery dates and times for customers based on their specific address while also assisting on the backend to help optimize shipping costs that eCommerce sites have to pay. From a pricing standpoint, AI-based dynamic pricing will start to become more prevalent and will take factors like current demand, competitor pricing and shopper preferences into account.  This type of pricing within eCommerce will have parallels to how airlines typically charge for plane tickets online.

— Harry Thakkar, partner, Avatria

Predictive influencer performance AI has started to impact the influencer marketing industry, but overall, there has been a lack of transparency between influencers and sponsors, and marketers are left to assume the risks associated with investing in influencers. Fueled by the demand for assurance in influencer performance, this will change in 2020. Brands will look to third-party providers to provide deeper and richer measurement fueled by unique access to data. This data will manifest into tools powered by AI, image clustering and natural language processing (NLP), to bring marketers one step closer to quick, predictive-performance based influencer selection.

 — Leah Logan, VP of media products, Collective Bias

Optimizing at the grocery store There is no doubt that Artificial Intelligence will have an impact across industries in 2020. A major emerging use case in the grocery space is in optimizing promotions to best meet the needs of the manufacturer and retailer. As it stands, marketers lack the ability to track campaign performance accurately, and, more importantly, do not understand all the factors that influence those outcomes, especially in an omni-channel environment. Predictive performance of promotions via AI, which can assimilate those factors, will gain traction, and the industry will rely heavily on the technology to hone campaigns to take advantage of all the marketing avenues, from classic paper coupons and rebates, through digital options and social media.

 — Jeff Clouse, director of data science, Inmar  

Connecting creative quality to ROI As the cost of media rises (e.g. TV is projected to increase by 6.1% in 2020), marketers are faced with a growing need to prove ROI on every dollar invested, including creative, which is where AI is playing an increasing role. Still at its early stages, AI is a game changer when it comes to predicting creative effectiveness because it will power significantly faster (minutes vs. hours or days) and less expensive evaluation which enables advertisers to test more iteratively during the creative development process. It also allows marketers to test a higher percentage of creative assets, providing a broader view into total campaign performance.  But most importantly, and what we’ve heard repeatedly from our clients, is the need to connect creative quality and media effectiveness to more accurately predict total marketing ROI. That’s where AI will play a powerful role and why Kantar Analytics is collaborating with leading advertisers and creative agencies to integrate these new tools into their process.

 — Kerry Benson, content analytics practice lead, Kantar

AI meets IoT IoT is still limited, as current versions of this tech will only work with “non-emotional” products – think paper towels or dish soap. Images remain absolutely crucial in selling popular items like clothing, shoes, and jewelry, and brands will need to harness the power of AI to boost personalization and monetize this trend. AI-powered experience analytics are going to keep on increasing our ability to predict customer behavior and personalized product recommendations will become the holy grail for modern retailers – the more Alexa knows about you, the more targeted suggestions she can make.

 — Jonathan Cherki, CEO, Contentsquare

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