How IoT is set to change the digital marketing landscape in 2017

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The most commonly discussed trend in technology circles this year has been the Internet of Things (IoT). Most of us have seen the predictions made by giants like BusinessInsider, Forrester and Gartner. BusinessInsider’s latest reports predict that there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020 and that nearly $6 trillion will be spent in the IoT sector over the next five years.

Forrester’s predictions for the near-term are a little darker – in 2017, Forrester predicts that we will not only see our first large-scale security breach but that there will also be an increase in the use of DDoS (Distribute Denial of Service) attacks. On the bright side, the research group is also predicting that these attacks will drive sophisticated security measures in the form of new security-focused solutions and industry-specific IoT certifications.

In 2015, Gartner predicted that there would be 6.4 billion IoT devices connected to the internet by 2016. According to Statista, that number is proving to be conservative. Recently released statistics show that the actual number of connected IoT devices has topped the 22 billion mark worldwide.

This shift is impacting every industry and perhaps the most influenced will be marketing. Each connected device represents a new channel through which data will flow in both directions – consumers will generate behaviour-defining, trackable data and savvy marketers will use that information to pump personalized campaigns back to their audiences.

The future is not only in connected devices but also in how solutions are developed to incentivize customers for sharing personal data (including spending habits, location tracking and search history) and the use of AI (artificial intelligence) to leverage this information to create customized experiences for consumers.

The drive is sending marketers in search of chatbots – solutions that utilize AI to provide users with information in conversation; while the primary interactions are with AI, the solutions can also call on humans to intervene when the questions get too tough.

Stuart Frankel, the CEO of Narrative Science, agrees the most dominant movements will be in developing technology that mimics conversation. Frankel notes that “search engines like Google and Bing have already made big moves enabling search queries via spoken word while Facebook launched an AI-effort, DeepText, to understand individual users’ conversational patterns and interests. Meanwhile, the move toward natural language interfaces has already picked up steam with the explosion of companies focused on enabling chatbots, digital assistants and even messaging apps eclipsing social networks in monthly activity. Beyond 2017, think of a future when we can casually ask our personal devices for information regardless of subject—‘How much money do I have in checking?’, ‘When was my last physical?’ or ‘What restaurant within a 10-minute driving distance has an open table for 2 people?’”

Translating this into a solution specific to marketers is a short-leap – and one that Aman Naimat, SVP of Technology for DemandBase has already made. He predicts that “Marketers will start having hyper-personalized conversations at scale using AI. The most interesting and valuable use for AI is the ability for marketers to have one-on-one personalized conversations with buyers who know their pain points, goals and ambitions. This type of personalized communication eliminates the worthless spam that often plagues marketing today.

“These personalized conversations are already happening between strategic account managers, but in 2017 artificial intelligence will allow these conversations to grow beyond a select group of people. Instead, each of a company’s 10 million website visitors can expect to have a unique conversation with a brand based on their specific needs. From dynamic ad copy, to 1-to-1 emails and customized website experiences, AI will make hyper-personalization at scale possible.”

The common thread in IoT and AI marketing trends is data – firms can prepare for the upcoming onslaught of IoT marketing solutions by understanding the data they are currently collecting and developing processes for its best use.

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