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Talk with an Advisor

7 min read

Technology and the Future of Digital Marketing

In the past few years we’ve seen some profound changes take place with regards to how we do business. As technology has raced ahead, so too have the tools that help us to effectively carry out our jobs. Social media has of course been a huge game changer, so it’s only right that more and more tools have emerged to help us to use it more efficiently.

Data and the way that we handle it has also seen many changes. Where once data analysis was only the domain of skilled data scientists and analysts, now even those with little to no technical knowledge can work with data. This is thanks largely to the advancements that we’ve seen in data analysis software, which now allows you to pull in data from numerous sources in order to analyse and act on it in almost real time.

3D Printing

And it’s not stopping there either. Exciting new technologies are emerging that can make our lives even easier. For example, 3D printing has become much more accessible, price wise, very quickly. You can now purchase a 3D printer for less than $1000. You might say that the technology has no application in digital marketing, but you’d be wrong.

Coca Cola’s Israel Campaign

Coca Cola, one of the most innovative brands out there when it comes to 3D printing in its Israel campaign, for example. The company introduced its mini bottles into the country by allowing customers to create mini 3D printed versions of themselves. First, customers were required to logon to a mobile app in order to create the digital models. Following this, the customer took the mini version of themselves into an online game. Finally, the winners were picked out by Coca Cola and given a trip to the company’s factory where they could create 3D print outs of themselves.

Pretty clever eh?

It’s not the only company to utilise 3D printing in their digital marketing either, and it’s a certainty that it won’t be the last.

Wearable Technology

When it comes to wearables, the technology has yet to mature and it’s likely that we’ll see a lot of movement over the next couple of years. Smart watches are of course already on the market, but these are yet to become the powerful devices that the technology promises. I’ve read a few Apple Watch reviews so far and they all say pretty much the same thing – it’s the best on the market, but it’s still pretty lacking and it certainly isn’t life changing.

A couple of years ago I chatted to a guy who was testing a jacket, which displayed ads to people as you wore it around town. At this year’s Web Summit there were plenty of interesting examples of wearable tech around too – my personal favourite was Luciding, a prototype device that took the form of a headband that you wear around your head at night. You could then use an accompanying app to control your lucid dreams – sounds great right?

But how can wearable technology boost digital marketing? I personally don’t fancy wearing a walking advertisement and I expect there’s a law that dictates that you can’t interfere with your customers’ dreams.

It will be a while before wearable tech finds real traction and widespread adoption, but once it begins to take off we could see it have an impact on digital marketing. Social media, for example, is bound to be one of the first to see it make a splash, as more people will be constantly connected and therefore consume more content and share more of your posts.

However, it’s likely that the key area in which we’ll see wearables be really useful to the digital marketer will in be data. Wearable technology means that we will potentially be able to collect much more information about our audiences.

According to Ashley Gelineau,

“Wearable technology isn’t just about providing cool features to the user; it’s also about collecting massive amounts of data for marketing and analytical efforts.”

So wearable devices will be able to gather personal details such as location, shopping habits, preferences and more.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

It’s thought that by 2017, we’ll all have at least five internet connected devices in our homes. A quick count up of the devices in my home reveals that we have more than five already, and so too have most people that I’ve asked whilst conducting my own mini-survey.

The Internet of Things refers to ordinary devices that are internet connected and it’s thought that by 2020, there will be a whopping 75bn devices. The kind of devices vary, but we’re already seeing IoT being implemented into home heating and security systems so that you can control them from anywhere where there’s an available internet connection.

Other uses include connected machinery implemented in manufacturing that allows machinery to communicate and to send service messages to maintenance staff for improved productivity and reduced downtime. It’s also likely that we’ll see our homes become increasingly smart, with fridges that let us know what we can cook for dinner based on their contents and much more.

So IoT is exciting technology that has a lot of applications – but where does it fit in to digital marketing?

Again, the biggest change we’re likely to see will be in the data that such devices generate. This means that “opting in will expand beyond CRM” according to Rebecca Nadilo, director, Digital Strategy, BBDO.

She goes on to say that it will become increasingly important for consumers to have control over their data and how it’s used. This means that marketers will have to adapt their strategies in order to ensure that the consumers gets something real in return for parting with their information. Rebecca also predicts that we’ll see a further shift in the consumer-brand power balance, with consumers being the winners. We’ve already seen social media cause this kind of disruption, so it is in a way a natural progression. Overall, we will all become increasingly connected to the net in many ways, as we move beyond the PC-era and into a brave new digital world.


The law surrounding the use of drones commercially is in some countries tight, or indeed forbids their use – in the US the Federal Aviation Authority prohibits their use, for example. It’s still a grey area however and for this reason, some companies are pushing the boundaries and creating ways to use drones in their marketing.

In the US, the real estate industry has been the forerunner of drone use, promoting luxury properties by shooting video from the air.

“Nine times out of 10, the videos are more attractive than what a [videographer] can do on the ground,” Matthew Leone, digital marketing lead at Halstead Property, told AdWeek.

“Drones are a no-brainer.”

At last year’s Cannes Festival, Twitter launched its @Dronie account on Vine where it then posted selfies taken by a drone of ad executives and it seems, Star Trek legend Patrick Stewart. The videos did of course create a fantastic buzz for the micro-blogging platform.

Marketing agency Deep Focus has also toyed with the idea of using drones to promote the products of an unnamed packaged goods brand by hovering a drone over the parking lot of supermarkets. The idea is then that a new snack product would be dropped into the shopping carts of people walking through the car park.

Perhaps a little intrusive, but everybody loves a freebie, so there’s nothing to say that if the idea had come to fruition, it wouldn’t have worked.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Both of these have been around for a while now, but we’ve not seen any really impressive real-world applications until more recently. Both the Oculus Rift from Facebook and the HoloLens from Microsoft look extremely promising however, although it’s likely to be a little while before we see them gain real adoption.

Augmented reality describes an app or device that allows you to further enhance the world around you by overlaying text, images, maps, or anything really, onto the real world. Virtual reality on the other hand is a more immersive experience that, as the name suggests, creates a virtual world around you.

Augmented reality apps are plentiful now, I reviewed one a few years ago that worked in tandem with digital signage for estate agents. Using an app, homebuyers could simply point their smartphone at the ‘for sale’ sign in front of a house and instantly get a floor plan and virtual tour of the home in question. The app also allowed them to see comparable house prices in the same area, make an appointment with an agent, or a mortgage consultant, view schools and crime figures and more.

So that’s an excellent example right there as to how augmented reality could be used to enhance marketing tools such as signage. The technologies could also be used for demonstrations at conferences, events or when pitching a client. In a retail environment, shoppers could be shown the latest gadgets or clothing using augmented and virtual reality, to further boost sales and much more.

The technology has yet to mature, but it’s exciting to consider how it will be used in the future, especially if you’ve seen any of the HoloLens demonstrations put on by Microsoft this week.

If not, check out this robot with augmented reality demo from this year’s Build Conference.

Just think about the future – instead of text or screen-based ads, you could potentially send a full 3D image for use with a headset where the user could see the product from every angle and even interact with it – fabulous.


The field of robotics and AI (artificial intelligence) have come a long way in recent years. Despite the fact that an AI creation passed the Turin test last year though, it’s a field where lots make predictions and most fail. This has been the case since AI was dreamt up by science fiction in the 50s and today, there’s been as many non-experts make accurate predictions as there has experts. This suggests that a lot more research and work needs to be done before we see any real examples of AI at play.

Of course, we also have to get over those people that believe AI to be dangerous too. At this year’s Web Summit one of the speakers said something that really resonated with me and that was that we have constructed a narrative surrounding AI that’s based purely on science fiction and Hollywood movies. I tend to agree, whilst there’s potential for risk with any technology, assuming that AI will behave in an aggressive manner is to assume that it will act in a human manner.

That aside, the field of robotics (which is separate to AI) has advanced enough that it’s very likely we’ll soon see robots become more widely adopted and put to use in more industries. Robotics is already a part of manufacturing and the automotive industry, and it’s likely we’ll see this increase across many sectors. How this will apply to marketing is likely to be once more in the kind of data that can be captured an acted upon as well as in taking over menial tasks.


Emerging technologies that haven’t yet hit the mainstream potentially have a lot to offer digital and traditional marketing. Some, such as robotics, are unlikely to become accessible anytime soon, price wise, but the others I’ve listed here are all happening right now.

For marketers, the key will be in how these technologies can be used innovatively in order to come up with more creative campaigns and capture customer details. Get it right and you stand a good chance of really wowing your audience, boosting your online presence and revenues in the meantime.

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