Have we hit ‘peak human marketing’?
Four years ago tech and data to many marketers meant Facebook and pageviews. Today marketing technology has exploded. Is the marketing industry about to experience the tech-related pain publishing has gone through?
Marketers, look at the marketing technology landscape and weep. There’s a new marketing sheriff in town and she’s got data. And automation. And regression analysis and a/b testing, and nearly 1000 different platforms showing different iterations on what’s generating results and what is draining budget. Marketers have never been so close to being able to prove and replicate what is working and what is not.
And that’s a big problem.
You can already see the efficiencies, the consolidation, the refocus on tech occurring. We probably hit peak marketing, or close to it. The efficiencies that marketing technology is bringing will soon mean fewer jobs in our field, and likely a different model of how the marketing function works.
The most challenging part of marketing was pulling perfect creative that appealed to millions out of thin air: we needed the genius of Don Draper to come up with the right pitch the first time and then convince a client to run it. Every creative decision was fraught with subjectivity and risk.
This is no longer the case. Today a creative person can come up with ten variations of the same concept and have them tested by thousands by noon. It’s creative as ephemeral commodity, Snapchat as creative platform. Don Drapers needed to pick the message that resonated the first time: he only had one shot. Digital can be reworked a dozen times an hour, and the crowd has a thousand ambitious Dons to select from and test, test, test. Leads aren’t followed up via phone calls until much later in the process; they are nurtured by marketing automation and scored.
Nicheification and personalization, ironically, reduce the human element in the marketing equation. Because humans can’t manage the complexity of four hundred different versions of creative or respond to a thousand simultaneous emails, but marketing technology and crowdsourcing can.
And it goes beyond creative, it goes beyond marketing. I won’t get into the larger debate about peak jobs, (like how Google’s self-driving cars will affect the trucking industry). It looms in many industries, and no one seems quite sure what to do about it.
Marketing is not exempt and the persuasion industries’ specific brand of distruption-by-tech remains to be seen, but it will lead to employment shifts and cuts as a result of:
– platform simplification (after consolidation)
– integrated automation across all marketing functions and the rise of marketing super platforms
– massive, massive data
– a shift in skills required and current roles not being replaced thanks to more efficient marketing processes, programs, data and automation, and other trends referenced here
– increased in-house execution of campaigns with data driven teams
Yes, there will always be places for brilliant communicators and creative that captures a moment, a feeling, a zeitgeist. Advertising and marketing are about connection and empathy. But they are also increasingly about distribution and data, and calculated connection and empathy that technology can execute so efficiently now that it feels like amazing customer experience. This is automated, and there will be increasingly fewer humans needed to fuel the automation. Just as marketing tech is exploding, the realization of the promise of tech-driven personalization may result in fewer people, and fewer jobs, behind it.
Image Source: Chief MarTech