The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing marketing communication

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The digital revolution has connected us to the world, and the connected world expects a different kind of advertising than what has been out there for years. What changes are occurring in contemporary marketing and what do we need to prepare for?

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing marketing communication

The world behind the screens

Of all the consumer electronics on the market today, smart devices are playing first fiddle. It began about ten years ago with smartphones, and today shops are filled with all kinds of smart products, which even include light bulbs, for example. And it is unlikely that it will end there.

New car models are also connected non-stop to 4G networks and bring us endless innovations connected to the Internet. Cars already have plenty of screens, and a data connection is available, so there is no reason for the car not to be smart.

Screens can be seen on a wide variety of objects all around us, from various objects for daily use to home appliances to screens in public places. But what is not visible is the cyberspace where all of these screens are connected to complex systems and networks.

What is interesting about this is that although such networks may seem to us like shapeless anonymous seas, the opposite is true. Nearly every connected device is (in principle) addressable and has a place in the network just like a house number on a city map.

Machines give us tailored content

Such a cyberspace map is quite incomprehensible for humans, but for machines it is beautifully legible, clear, and detailed. The algorithms deployed on the network make it possible to handle each device individually. For humans, the screen is a window to the virtual world, and for machines it is a window as well, just from the opposite side.

Thus, our computers only show us the emails that are ours, websites remember our favorite settings, and our phones notify us if someone shares a photo. That’s also why everyone sees different search results and, increasingly more often, even different website content. It is called personalization.

Technology meets people where they are. It estimates what offers, articles, products, reviews, films, and topics might interest us and puts them ahead of the others. And since we are thoroughly lazy, such pre-selection suits us – it saves us time and helps us navigate the enormous amount of information. It makes no difference whether or not the information is of a commercial nature. Personalization is just as good as advertising. Together with tailored content, it gets us closer to the body, deeper into the consciousness.

Half of all online ads are already addressable

Individualized marketing communication is applied in the sector called programmatic advertising. For example, in the USA it is estimated that in 2019, 84% of digital ads will be bought programmatically. In the Czech Republic this year, it is almost half.

Personalized ads are bought using special software and then sent to individual devices via ad distribution networks. Today such messages can be delivered to most connected phones, TVs, and computers, and they are already slowly penetrating other types of devices (outdoor screens, experiments with virtual reality, screens on trains, etc.).

The effectiveness of one-to-one marketing is largely based on the processing of data and signals that we continuously and diligently send to the network. It may not seem that way, but it can be tricky to estimate whether someone is ready to buy, ripe for a vacation, or may need a loan. Human activities, needs, problems, and moods are mirrored in the virtual world. It is not true that only Google and Facebook have interesting information. Fortunately, people spend their time on other websites as well, and thanks to decentralized ad networks, it is possible to work with a lot of information that Google and Facebook don’t catch.

For example, the emergence of a shared economy is another data-driven trend that is fiercely spreading across verticals in sales of both products and services. Co-operatives, alternative taxi services, shared living spaces, rentals, investments, sales of unused items – these are just a few of the examples. For modern marketing, that means an additional portion of data and signals it can work with. Again, it is about more accurate information and the further strengthening of the importance of data analytics…

Digital know-how as a strategic asset

The proper evaluation of information and its application can have far greater influence on advertising success than the size, length, format, or impact of an ad. The question is not only who to communicate with, but also when, how often, in what tone, in what order, in what context, and with what force. All of this places considerable demands on know-how, and in data-driven economies, exactly such know-how is becoming a significant competitive advantage.

In the time of the Fourth Industrial Revolution it is advantageous for businesses to share data with each other, thereby further improving both their products and their communication. Every field (taxi, accommodation, travel, finance, etc.) can contribute unique data which may ultimately be much more interesting than the data social networks have about us.

Linking one-to-one marketing with global mass media – the Internet is probably the most significant change ever experienced in advertising. The times when the same ads are run across the entire country from Monday to Friday are slowly coming to an end. With each and every day, the Internet is changing the behavior of half the population. And as the largest sales superplatform, it offers many challenges and opportunities.

Martin Čelikovský, Kamil Foltin