Online Trends

Predictions for Marketing’s Future

Do you engage with AI?

Let’s rephrase that. If you’re one of the nearly 5 billion people online, you engage with AI, intentional or not. The hot new trend in 2023 is incorporating AI and its many uses into many facets of business. It seems like the trend emerged all of a sudden, but finding future trends isn’t a practice of looking way past the horizon and trying to forecast what’s to come.

It’s seeing the present, and trying to use great research and valid information to be prepared for what the next iteration of a not-so-distant present will look like.

This year, some companies were poised to implement the latest technology and approaches for marketing. Those who weren’t ready, but were forward-thinking, flexible, and adaptive, figured it out quickly and embrace the present. Past that, the rest were left looking at the present as some future that is still coming, and they were scrambling to adjust and guess.

The guesswork is what separates the well-prepared from the reactive. Even if the present isn’t the future that was envisioned, grasping at it to adapt for adaptations’ sake without seeing the bigger picture leads to a cycle of reacting, then adapting too late. Understanding how present data and trends can provide preparation for the next future of marketing is the best way to always be ready, whether the predicted future presents itself or not.

Since it’s the present future, I asked Chat GPT simply, “what are your predictions for the future of marketing?” Is this generative AI the future of marketing? No. Is using AI the future of marketing? No.

Well, yes. Well… AI being all-in or all-out is way too stiff. AI will inform, it will not take over the future of digital marketing.

First, remember, Chat GPT is sourced information that was available on the internet, only up-to-date as of Sept. 2021, and unable to fully grasp what is happening in the present time, so the answer is inherently outdated no matter what.

What, or When, Is the Future of Marketing’s Future?

Before we get into the meat of its response, let’s look at the first sentence of the reply: 

“I don’t have the ability to predict the future with certainty, but I can certainly share some trends and possibilities that have been discussed within the marketing industry up to my last update in September 2021. Keep in mind that actual developments may differ.”

So, even as AI is the trend of the future, right now, its most popular application (for now) isn’t even aware of the present, much less the future. And we are calling AI the future.

And Chat GPT refers to itself as an entity, saying “I” and “my” even though it’s a program, worked on by actual human beings, to make it what it is.

Its (yes, it is an it, at best) 10 responses for the future in 2023, based on 2021 information, is as follows, with commentary for each pointed add by me:

  1. Personalization and Customer Experience — personalization is already becoming an older fad because everyone is doing it, or has already done it, so it’s not a significant separator anymore
  2. AI and Automation — automation has been the future for decades, if not centuries, so that’s a boring answer, as is AI saying AI is the future
  3. Video and Interactive Content — we’ve been told video is the future for the better part of 5 years now. Interactive content, however, is something we’ll put on our list
  4. Voice Search and Smart Assistants — again, this is already the present, not the future
  5. Ethical and Transparent Marketing — absolutely a current and future trend, or even a necessity depending on how the future of the physical world deteriorates
  6. Influencer Marketing Evolution — this goes near the top of a real future list, because millennials and Gen Z already are starting to trust influencer marketing over old-school advertising, especially the advertising of big brands
  7. Sustainability and Social Responsibility — this is very similar to No. 5
  8. New Social Media Platforms and Formats — 100% 1000% 1000000% true…this will never stop being true, and could be Number 1 on any future of marketing list. Pour one out for AOL, MySpace, Twitter, Vine, etc, etc. One of the most popular platforms today will not be relevant 10 years from now.
  9. Data Privacy Regulations — this is already happening, so kudos to 2021-informed Chat GPT for seeing this as it was evolving, and will continue in importance
  10. Emphasis on Customer Retention — well this just feels lazy. Can AI be lazy? What business doesn’t want to retain customers?


Prompt No. 2: “What are your predictions for the future of marketing for 2025?”

Again, the same disclaimer comes first about the last Chat GPT update coming in Sept. 2021.

Let’s run through these 10 a bit quicker, with the copy written by a human (me) then actually get into our human-driven predictions for marketing’s future.*

*Human-driven meaning a real human sitting at a computer typing research questions into a search engine prompt and following links into other links into rabbit holes of valid research, informed experts, and others’ predictions to create a digital document that you’re reading now 😀

  1. AI-Driven Personalization — AI goes hyper-personalized
  2. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) — AR and VR technologies create immersive experiences,
  3. Voice and Visual Search — “Siri, please search something for me and return really creepy results that I’ll get used to”
  4. Blockchain for Transparency — this emphasis on security has been present before the internet, before AI, before ecommerce, and security-slash-transparency will not reduce in significance in our lifetime
  5. Privacy-Centric Marketing — spot-on
  6. Video Dominance — video dominance is here to stay, for now, for the future, with the approach and format changing. Vine begets Stories begets TikTok begets Reels begets….
  7. Sustainability as a Key Focus — this is a, ahem, sustainable entry into future predictions
  8. New Social Media Platforms — “Hey [Google/Alexa/Siri/PromptMoto], play ‘The Sound of Silence’”
  9. Content Experience Platforms — finally, something completely different
  10. Rise of Micro-Moments — creepy, cool


Feeling Out Future Forecasting

Marketing is, has been, and always will be dynamic, ever-changing. Sorry for the trope, but you will almost definitely read some variation of that again, written by some human or humachine (prediction: we will not start calling AI ‘humachines’).

Marketing adapts in many ways, but the most tried-and-true is following the emerging channels and formats. If people are no longer using X, and static X Ads (formerly known as Twitter), well, then brands must adapt. New brands don’t even have to adapt, they just do, because they aren’t bogged down in what used to work.

With platform popularity changes usually come medium changes. From text to photo, meme to video, over-produced to under-produced (and back again and again).

The thing that does not change is reliable data, trusted sources, quality content, valuable people, and, one thing Chat GPT left off both answers — understanding your audience.

Once more for the people in the front — understanding your audience has been the baseline of marketing since the inception of marketing. How you use that understanding changes, but without the understanding, any success is just a lucky shot in the dark that will be difficult to replicate.


What Did AI Get Right About Current Trends?

It referred to the prediction as “micro-moments” but we’ll call it “hyper-personalized.” Maybe that’s “content experience platforms” in a different lingo.

Regardless, AI will help collect better and more reliable data, as long as people allow for it. With that, marketing campaigns will become ultra-dynamic, able to personalize on a super micro level, perhaps even from person to person, moment to moment. Will people actually want a modern version of Ask Jeeves to literally fetch for them the exact thing they need/want/desire at that exact moment, sometimes without the human even knowing it before the AI/platform suggests and delivers it?

That’s a different rabbit hole, but just like the most recent versions of personalization, people want that experience, but they still want it to feel human and not too intrusive.


Let’s look at the 20 results we got back, and boil down what we see as realities for the future of marketing (today):

  • Privacy-centric marketing
  • Sustainability as a key focus
  • AI-driven personalization
  • Video and interactive content
  • Sustainability and social responsibility
  • Influencer marketing evolution
  • AR and VR
  • Content experience platforms
  • Rise of micro-moments


In a cookieless future full of cookieless marketing (mmm, cookies) there will be more emphasis on how data is collected and delivered. Data analytics will follow and inform online trends, as it has and is currently.

People want personalization, but on their terms. Thus, content experiences that users willingly give information to will rise to prominence. That will allow for micro-moments, likely inside of these platforms we do not know of yet, that might likely incorporate or just flat-out be embedded in AR and VR.

This is privacy-centric. It is personalized marketing, but with the personal part of it being the willingness. Fake influencers only in it for the fame and money will, well, they’ll still be around, but the natural influencers, the authentic people who prove their trustworthiness will fuel social commerce and the future of advertising.

It’s already happening, as more people trust influencer advertising over traditional advertising approaches.


Genuine Won’t Go Out of Style

The modern concert experience AKA Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour is the future of marketing.

How so?

It’s calculated, yet, extremely authentic. It follows a script, yet has hyper-personalization. It relies on old marketing, and embeds new micro-moments such as each show featuring two songs only performed for that show. It’s private, among thousands of people. It’s a shared experience. It’s willingly giving away data with the end goal of a desired personalization.

There’s sustainability involved, there’s video and interactive content, there’s widespread sharing and viral moments. It is basically a content experience platform. Those who can’t attend are watching it via social media and video as AR, or maybe even VR.

Why do people still attend concerts? Music is readily available, and easily accessible, by proper and improper means, all over the digital space.

Because humans want to connect with other humans. They want to see someone perform with their heart and soul. They want to share emotions with other people, even strangers, in a shared, trusted, safe environment.

This is the evolution of digital marketing, in real-life, in real-time, in the real world. This is the future of advertising, the future of social media marketing, created from an IRL experience.

The blending of the two will continue. That is a marketing future truth.

Our Real Predictions

Automation is part of it all, as is AI. When people need to buy something, usually technology steps in, either to solve the problem, or as a stop-gap until a “live representative” can step in. That will continue to refine, and become less awkward. Automation is data-driven personalization that gets stronger with iterations. As people, and AI, learns to adapt to how people trust and behave, the methods will become more intertwined into all facets of life.

As of the level of hyper-personalization and micro-experiences, this will be fueled by, as we said, people willingly giving over information. First-part data isn’t the future, it’s the now in a cookieless world.

AR and VR are still emerging technologies and trends. But back to the concert analogy, it wasn’t so long ago that the thought of watching a live concert in person only via video screens because you are so far away as a turn off. Now, it’s becoming the experience. Not just at concerts, for live sporting events, video games, shopping — whether it’s creepy or not, there is a version of AR and VR that likely isn’t evolved in our present that will be there in the future ready to reshape all of this that we can’t see just yet.

Influencers already hock big brands, and big brands find undiscovered influencers to help them build trust. This will ebb and flow, as authenticity will take many shapes over platforms and mediums through the years.


The Final Future Forecast

In true human fashion, we admit, we have no idea what the future of marketing will entail. Turns out, neither do predictive AI models and machines, or professional forecasters from Forbes. 

As the great Last Week Tonight host John Oliver would say: And now, this: 

  1. Interactive, IRL — products on store shelves will display user reviews, critics’ rankings, and even product demo videos right there alongside the price
  2. AI verified — people will use AI to authenticate information, to perform research, and to evaluate digital realms for trustworthiness the more it becomes difficult to tell what’s AI and not
  3. Content is Queen, King, and everything — people will always create, even when aided by automation and AI, and the platforms that highlight user-created content will rise to prominence the way TikTok has. The fakeness of Instagram, and money-fueled influencers will fall away while empowering genuine experiences will rise
  4. Sustainability, responsibility — this is already helping brands stand out from the crowd, but a new generation knows what greenwashing is, what sportswashing is, and will fight to minimize those that only take and do not give altruistically
  5. Interactive, AR, VR — as cameras get smaller and smaller, and AI learns to replicate realities, people will immerse themselves into experiences, such as testing out a product virtually or watching something up-close before buying it. Imagine using a vacuum cleaner that shows, based on other real videos and demos, how well it performs, and the same for a car, a blender, shoes, a mouse, even concert ticket seats
  6. BONUS — People will get sick of the “we asked Chat GPT” gimmick, but only after reading this article 🙂