A Roadmap to the Future of Marketing

Rob Salkowitz, Director of Strategy and Content, MediaPlant

In March of last year, my company, MediaPlant, launched a year-long research project investigating trends in the future of digital marketing, sponsored by Microsoft. Our task was to observe how fundamental driving forces in IT and communications – including cloud computing, big data analytics, pervasive computing (mobile devices, internet of things) and social media – are influencing the hottest topics in marketing, from real-time branding to omichannel targeting, content marketing, mobile app development and predictive market analytics.

Over the course of six months, we interviewed dozens of experts including CMOs, agency leads, brand managers, startup founders, technologists and academics, hosted focus groups, conducted hundreds of hours of research and attended industry events around North America.  The scope of our findings spans five whitepapers and over 100 pages packed with charts, statistics, key quotes, case studies and analysis. The Internet Marketing Association has graciously provided a platform to share some of this with professional colleagues and the digital marketing community.

The infographic below, from the first paper in the series (“Dollars, Bits and Atoms: A Roadmap to the Future of Marketing”) represents our attempt to connect the dots between the various initiatives taking place within digital marketing and IT, showing how they inter-relate and are likely to evolve.


In the graphic, we map clusters of innovation in areas like Big Data, Content Marketing, Social Marketing, Physical/Digital Blend (mobile and Internet of Things) to three core marketing business objectives: Brand Awareness, Customer Engagement and Personalization and Measurement. Each of the smaller circles surrounding the innovation clusters are specific themes or areas of focus within marketing (“brands as publishers,” “predictive analytics,” “location-aware offers”) or forecasts related to technology itself (“kinetic interfaces,” “augmented reality”).

The purpose of the graphic is to show the relationship between IT innovations at the platform level and the increasing capabilities of digital marketing as we move from “the new now” to “next” to “sooner than you think.”

We spend the last portion of the paper outlining a vision synthesized from our conversations and research that we’ve labeled “Connected Customer.” In this scenario, the widespread adoption of emerging technologies like 3D printing, digital currencies and embedded intelligent systems leads to a world where marketers can target and personalize the brand experience (and price) for each individual consumer across the physical and digital domains.

As marketers and technologists, I think we can all see that coming on the horizon. The purpose of the chart is to show how we get there, step by step, breakthrough by breakthrough, and how the pieces come together. At the organizational level, it suggests an investment strategy to connect the different areas of innovation going on within digital marketing at a platform level to make it easier to build on the capabilities and expertise of each specific project to get you closer to your goal.

For more information, I encourage you to download the full report (free with registration) to read and share within your organization.  I hope to be posting more here on the IMA content portal on our other reports which look at how big brands can tap into the energy of startups to drive marketing innovation, how content marketing connects with the customer journey, the use and abuse of (big) data, and the future of the CMO.

Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) is co-founder and Director of Strategy and Content at MediaPlant (@mediaplant_us), a Seattle-based marketing communications firm, author of several books on technology and the future of business, and teaches digital media at the University of Washington Graduate School of Communication CommLead program.

Leave A Reply