The biggest bets: 2018’s top 10 marketing technologies

As you can see, AI is by far in the lead with almost 40% of marketers saying artificial intelligence, machine learning, or deep learning will be the most transformative technology for marketers in the coming year. Add to that bots/chatbots and voice search and assistants, which rely on various levels of AI for their intelligence, and you hit almost three quarters of marketers.

Clearly, marketers are infatuated with AI. But what about all the other bright shiny toys marketers dream about all day long?

Here are the top 10 technologies marketers think will impact marketing the most in 2018, along with the percentage of marketers who voted for them. (Note: the total is more than 100%, as marketers predicted multiple things about half the time.)

1. AI, deep learning, machine learning: 37.4%

Marketers deeply believe that AI will make big data work for them in targeting, in understanding the customer journey, and in driving optimal ad-spend decisions. In some cases, they’re likely to be right.

2. Big data and personalization: 16.8%

Marketers have a deep and earnest longing to communicate intimately with their customers like best friends, a million or two at a time. Using big data to — among other things — personalize communications — is high on the list. A few are making it happen even today.

3. AR, VR, MR: 12.2%

Nothing says cutting edge like funky goggle helmets and real-time insertion of virtual objects into actual scenes, so augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality are super-exciting to marketers who want to hit the next big thing. There are some success stories, though, so it’s not just all hype.

4. Bots, chatbots, messaging: 10.1%

Communicating with millions individually while taking a coffee break? It’s easy to see why chatbots on messaging platforms are popular. It’s also easy to see some limited success in early adoptions of the technology.

5. Mobile, often in conjunction with geolocation: 10.1%

Mobile was the most interesting thing of just a few years ago. Now, it’s even more important, but much less visible. Why? It’s the setting where all the other interesting things happen.

6. Voice: search, assistants, commerce, user interfaces: 9%

Amazon’s Echo showed the way. Google Home is following. Apple’s Siri is in the game, and so are assistants and voice-first applications for information and commerce from Microsoft and multiple other companies, including many competitors in China. Many marketers see this as the next big wave.

7. Blockchain, cryptocurrencies: 8.4%

Blockchain has the potential to change many industries, and advertising is one on the list. And blockchain-based cryptocurrencies aren’t just minting Bitcoin billionaires, they’re also providing insight into how we might transact business in the future. That, not shockingly, matters to marketers.

8. Messaging and brand: 8.4%

Not all top technologies for 2018 are technologies. A significant number of marketers believe that the right brand, the right message, and the right creative marketing are more critical than the technologies you use to present them to consumers. And … they might not be wrong.

9. Performance marketing: 8.4%

This is an interesting one — it wasn’t even a category I was thinking of or looking for. But, looking back on all the 20,000 words of responses to my question, performance marketing stood out in phrases like ROI, testing, conversion, and so on. Data enables creative decisions, but it also help marketers make the right calls financially.

10. Customer databases, DMPs, data lakes: 6.1%

Marketing has never had a single system of record. That’s clearly about to change, as customer databases, DMPs for all prospect and customer interaction, and data lakes that enable coordinated access to customer data from multiple sources are getting more and more critical to marketers.