The Martech Trough of Disillusionment Is a Crowded Space

Among the 21 technologies represented in the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing 2020, nearly half are mired in the Trough of Disillusionment. They include account-based marketing platforms, AI for marketing, customer data platforms, and personalization engines. There could be a big shift in 2021, however, as most of the tools in the Trough should start making their way to or through the Slope of Enlightenment on their two- to five-year trip to the Plateau of Productivity.

This year’s Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing features two newer technologies to watch in the Innovation Trigger stage: customer data ethics tools and visual search for marketing.

“The need for customer data ethics arises from two factors: concentrated market power of a few digital tech giants controlling massive amounts of customer data and consumers’ deep-seated concerns about how their data is collected and used,” Mike McGuire, vice president analyst in Gartner’s Marketing practice, said in a statement.

Gartner predicts that customer data ethics tools will take at least 10 years to reach full adoption—expecting an especially long stay in the Trough of Disillusionment. Marketers and their technology counterparts will need to determine the best approach to deployment while they also consider legal and policy implications. “In five to 10 years, demand for the ethical treatment of customer data will intensify as consumer trust decreases,” McGuire said. “To win back consumer trust, marketers must talk about customer data ethics and demonstrate, in transparent ways, their commitment to be more than legally compliant.”

In the meantime, these tools will be especially important in quite a few areas, including ad targeting, customer segmentation, mobile marketing, and passive data collection, as well as in customer loyalty programs and marketing campaign design.

According to Gartner senior director analyst Nicole Greene, visual search will especially benefit those in product and search marketing and in e-commerce operations, as well as content marketers—helping them to enhance the customer experience across all phases of the buyer’s journey. “Fully realized visual search tools will enable marketers to drive consumers from the awareness phase of the buying cycle to the purchase/conversion stage in an instant,” Greene writes in the “Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing 2020” report.

Gartner expects that marketers’ need to consider whether to apply visual search to video will grow in importance as the technology advances. Another consideration is data privacy. Greene recommends that marketers using visual search update their privacy statements and disclosures on their apps and website to include clear descriptions of how they use visual search data.

Lingering—for the moment—at the Peak of Inflated Expectations are consent/preference management, conversational marketing, customer journey analytics, and real-time marketing. Gartner predicts that all of them should reach the Plateau of Productivity in two to five years except real-time marketing, which could take five to 10 years.

Even so, Gartner VP analyst Noah Elkin notes that companies using real-time marketing tools will outperform and outpace competitors in their ability to deliver more relevant offers to customers. His advice to marketers trying to adopt and get the most from real-time marketing is to build an agile team capable of responding quickly to changes and opportunities. In doing so, marketing organizations could potentially build speed into the entire customer life cycle.

Marketers often have a love/hate relationship with marketing technology, but even the tools currently traversing the Trough of Disillusionment present opportunity. Over the long term, marketers who work to get these tools to work for them will be the ones who can create the greatest, and longest-lasting, competitive advantage.

This article originally appeared on MKTGinsight.