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Wave of the future Is marketing automation the next big thing?

Marketing automation … it’s more mundane than the image it may evoke — artificial intelligence brainstorming a company’s branding. We’re not there yet.

But, for people in the industry, it’s just as exciting.

It’s one of the many technologies that have come to bear on the word of marketing and advertising over the past few years and caused a shakeup in the way the field is approached.

Marketing automation is a type of software platform that automates repetitive tasks such as emails, social media and other online-based actions. It’s used on the sales side of marketing firms to guide prospective customers based on their activities.

Paul Gruensfelder of marketing company CMDS explained that there are other streamlining tools being introduced today that go as far as automating the process of getting the right information to customers.

Gruensfelder, who previously led digital marketing efforts at RWJBarnabas Health, said a good example of this comes from the Cleveland Clinic medical center’s website, where someone can end up on a landing page involving prostate cancer, download a guide and then provide certain information that is used to put people into categories that determine what their needs are.

“So, it might ask if you are recently diagnosed or if you are searching for information for a family member,” he said. “At that point, it can (automate) follow-up activities like scheduling an appointment or just offering more high-level information.”

Another example he used is the way a car company may follow up in certain intervals after someone purchases a car, offering reminders or doing other marketing communications based on how long ago the car was bought.

That’s far from the only technology firms have to keep up with today.

Franco Zito, president of New Jersey’s Ad Club, would feel remiss not to have mentioned the eroding of written content, which has long been a foundation of marketing and advertising.

“Slowly, the written word is going away and it’s being replaced with video,” he said. “You can see that with our youth these days — everything is on Snapchat. Video seems to be in every aspect of our life now, and that definitely translates to business.”

Another big step has been interactive television advertising, which has given companies a way to tailor commercials to specific segments of the population.

Zito explained that a car dealership, for instance, can use it to deliver one message to a population that leans toward the truck buyer market, and showcase eco-friendly vehicles to a different group.

This now goes for radio, too, where online platforms like Spotify have opened up the possibility of a similar way to reach certain demographics, according to Gruensfelder.

Gruensfelder expects over the next few years that this targeted advertising will become more efficient than ever across all web-connected platforms, which might not be an altogether good thing.

“The technology itself is evolving; now, the challenge is that, because of accessibility of it, it has made the quality of ads just terrible,” Gruensfelder said. “It’s just an ad factory.”

The decline in quality in advertising on the internet has resulted in the widespread use of ad blocking tools. Just looking at mobile devices, a study from market research company GlobalWebIndex reported that up to 37 percent of people were blocking ads.

“And that’s dramatically affecting the market,” Gruensfelder said. “So we’re trying to find a balance between efficiency and a good consumer experience.

“Technology and access to data has the potential to make marketing much more personalized as well as useful to people, but you need a creative approach to accomplish that.”

E-mail to: brettj@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @reporterbrett

Brett Johnson

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