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Amazon Trends & Industry Predictions for Sellers

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Amazon Trends & Industry Predictions for Sellers

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By Tinuiti Team

2023 was yet another huge year for Amazon and the retail media sector as a whole, bringing with it new ad placements, partnerships and measurement capabilities, relaunched platforms, a major IPO and more.

2024 retail media ad spend is forecasted to reach nearly $60B—continuing to grow at least 21% YoY through 2027—making “retail media the fastest growing ad spending channel in all of media.”

Amazon Statistics for Your 2024 Strategy

Looking at just a few of the most interesting current stats and impactful events and updates from Amazon over the past 12 months we find…

  • According to Insider Intelligence findings shared in August, retail media is expected to grow to ~$45B in the US this year, with greater than 75% of those billions being Amazon spend
  • Amazon had yet another record-breaking Prime Day in July 2023, reporting that their first day of the two-day event was the single largest sales day in company history. If you want to reach the largest number of shoppers possible during these high-traffic windows, it’s imperative to maintain your ad presence during these tentpole events
  • The Power of Prime Day was helped along in large part by the vast number of Amazon Prime members—currently ~200M worldwide (~167M in the US)
  • Amazon has long been a popular ad platform for brands selling on Amazon, but they aren’t the only ones who can take advantage of the advanced audience targeting capabilities the platform offers. With growing non-endemic advertising opportunities, just about anyone can take advantage of Amazon advertising
  • Sizmek Ad Suite became Amazon Ad Server, just one of many signs pointing to Amazon’s ongoing commitment to becoming a true Google challenger with a full advertising ecosystem. As shared by eMarketer“Amazon Ads is even closing the gap with Google and Meta. The newest digital ad powerhouse is making the duopoly sweat, capturing 12.9% of the US digital ad market this year (behind Google’s 27.1% and Meta’s 19.5%). Amazon is expected to see its US ad revenues increase by $5.04 billion this year, more than that of Google and Meta combined ($3.34 billion)”
  • With an exceptionally mature search business already securely under their belt, Amazon continued their upper-funnel advertising march in 2023 with an increased focus on on-site display, off-site display, and video ads accessible through Amazon DSP. Amazon also put their ad-supported Streaming recommendations to work for themselves, launching the first Black Friday NFL Football game in November 2023

Other Recent News in Retail Media

Amazon wasn’t the only RMN making moves in 2023, with some noteworthy milestones from other top retailers including…

None of these changes happened in a silo, with each connected to the evolving needs of brands, marketers, and shoppers as more cookies crumble, more signals go dark, and the demands for more personalized ad experiences increase.

The privacy-compliant, first-party insights retailers are able to offer advertisers to help in reaching the most qualified audiences is invaluable today and tomorrow, on Amazon and beyond.

Trending Product Categories on Amazon for 2024

Insider Intelligence infographic showing Amazon's increasing percentage share of total retail ecommerce sales in top US ecommerce product categories

We don’t expect you to change your entire product lineup to match evolving retail trends, but they are helpful to keep in mind when building your strategy, refining your goals, and accurately defining success.

Heading into 2024, five of the hottest product categories on Amazon include:

Health and personal care — With inflation concerns and impacts far from over, the lipstick effect is in full swing, as many consumers are treating themselves to affordable little luxuries (like a nice lipstick) while their bank accounts aren’t padded enough for higher ticket items.

Consumer electronics — Long ago considered a nice-to-have, personal electronics including laptops and smartphones have become necessary tools in living a modern, connected life. And more people are turning to Amazon to buy them. In addition to the many top brands available, from Apple to Sony, Amazon also has a variety of their own electronics brands, including Kindles, Fire TVs, and Echo devices.

Office equipment and supplies — From printer cartridges to the printers themselves, being able to find it all on Amazon—often with fast, free shipping—has more shoppers turning to the site for their office supply needs.

Apparel and accessories — Amazon offers an extensive selection of apparel from top brands, their own AmazonBasics brand, and everything in between, in sizes to fit the whole family. Their fast shipping, easy returns, and Prime Try Before You Buy offering on many items are surely contributing factors to their increased apparel ecomm share. Note: Be on the lookout for Tinuiti’s Apparel Study, planned to launch in early ‘24!

Furniture and home furnishings — Whether you need a desk or desk lamp, sofa or sofa cover, table or tablecloth—you’ll find it on Amazon. And importantly, it often ships for free, a major perk for furniture especially, which often carries hundreds of dollars in freight and delivery charges from other retailers.

Amazon Trends & Industry Predictions for Advertisers in 2024

As we head into the new year, we asked the experts what they’re expecting from Amazon and the retail media sector at large in 2024. Here’s what they had to say…

A fresh and focused look at incrementality and measurement

With so many advertising avenues competing for their share of the marketing budget, brands and advertisers are placing an increasing focus on determining what is working best, how, and in what ways.

Incrementality looks to measure which specific interactions with your brand led to the desired outcomes from your audience. With this information, you can rank the effectiveness of different initiatives at helping you continue to drive desired results, focusing your efforts on the areas with the most impact and opportunity.

“Incrementality and proving investments in media beyond onsite search will continue to dominate conversations in 2024. I would challenge our peers to re-consider the definition of incrementality and if the Amazon shopper is also the Walmart shopper and is also the Instacart shopper—are they incremental? I think we will have to look harder, almost on a case-by-case basis as each retailer is eventually going to come with a slightly different incrementality calculation, each brand with a different goal, and each SKU a different reason for existing.”

— Elizabeth Marsten, VP, Commerce Strategic Services at Tinuiti

In-store advertising opportunities a true differentiator for brick-and-mortar stores

Any store with physical locations has certain advantages over online-only retailers—including in-store advertising and click-and-collect capabilities. But only one of those stores—Walmart—has the massive physical footprint (~4700 stores), brand recognition, and extensive inventory that separates them from the pack in proving just how ‘big’ those advantages can be.

“Progress in incrementality and measurement will invariably remain at the forefront of discussions in 2024. However, when considering under-leveraged opportunities, it becomes apparent that a strong physical footprint will act as a true differentiator for retailers in the coming year and beyond.

With the increasing prevalence of omnichannel shopping behaviors and the current under-utilization of in-store advertising and measurement opportunities, this positions “in-store” as an emerging avenue for sellers to strategically engage the entire spectrum of consumers, from those ready to make a purchase to individuals seeking to explore new products during their regular in-person shopping experiences. Additionally, when done right, these stores can double as fulfillment centers, allowing for greater geographical reach for expedited shipping options such as same-day and 2-day.”

— Stuart Clay, Director, Commerce Strategic Services at Tinuiti

Amazon’s sophisticated suite of marketing and ad tools is future-ready

Amazon’s ad opportunities are more robust than ever, both on-and-off Amazon.com. Outside Amazon’s walls, growth can be seen from a variety of ad types and locations, including: Sponsored Products launched on third-party inventory in October 2023; expansion of Streaming TV opportunities with the release of Sponsored TV ads in Q4 2023; and Prime Video inventory coming in Q1 2024.

We expect those expanded opportunities coupled with the ability to measure Streaming against D2C (direct-to-consumer) web purchases will result in more brands feeling comfortable entering the Amazon Streaming space in 2024.

“2024 will be the year Amazon tears down the perception that it is a retail-focused advertising platform. Brands will need to assess, or reassess, how Amazon’s ad tools contribute to their digital marketing strategy whether Amazon is a major sales channel for their products or not. The unique and proprietary audience segmentation within their DSP, massive incremental reach of Fire TV’s streaming inventory, and the sophistication of analytics tools, like Amazon Marketing Cloud, provide critical value to any advertiser’s digital marketing strategy.”

— Joe O’Connor, Sr. Director, Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti

“I predict Amazon will continue to make off-Amazon advertising placements, and non-endemic advertisers, part of their larger vision. We’re already seeing things like the Amazon Ad Tag become more popular and I believe this is just the beginning. Amazon will continue to make the case for brand budgets from non-endemic advertisers due to new placements such as video on the Amazon Prime app. I believe, eventually, they’ll take budgets from DV360 and The Trade Desk as these non-endemic advertisers explore Amazon DSP placements.”

— Tony Heuer, Strategist, Programmatic at Tinuiti

A focus on personalization and protecting the planet

Many consumers—particularly Gen Z—strongly consider a brand’s values when deciding who to shop from. As Tinuiti’s From A to (Gen) Z study found, “74% of Gen Z CPG shoppers across all three product categories studied said that the values and beliefs of CPG brands were at least moderately important to deciding which products to purchase, the highest share of any generation.”

“In 2024, personalized customer experiences will take center stage on Amazon. Brands that harness consumer data to curate tailored shopping experiences will be better equipped to boost sales and brand loyalty in the competitive marketplace. This bespoke approach will make brands more memorable and enhance customer satisfaction. As this trend accelerates, the use of Amazon Live, Amazon Posts, and strategic influencer partnerships will become increasingly influential. Live demos, real-time engagement, and influencer endorsements will drive conversion rates and foster a community around your brand.

Simultaneously, sustainability will no longer be a niche selling point but a primary driver of consumer choice and Amazon’s algorithmic preferences. This pivotal shift is evident with initiatives like the Climate Pledge Friendly Certification, which spotlights products with high sustainability standards. Brands that integrate eco-friendly products, packaging, and sustainable practices into their business model will likely receive organic ranking benefits and improved Buy Box visibility. Amazon’s commitment to sustainability will mirror consumer consciousness, rewarding environmentally responsible brands with higher visibility and sales. The synergy between personalization and sustainability will be paramount for brands and sellers aiming to thrive on Amazon in 2024.”

— Eva Hart, Amazon Growth Expert, Enterprise Marketing Manager, and Brand Owner at Jungle Scout Cobalt

Omnichannel measurement focus remains laser-sharp

Walmart continues to place a focus on their already-strong measurement capabilities, and Amazon has set quite a high standard of what’s possible with Amazon Marketing Cloud. With new tools like AMC Audiences, brands are more empowered to take direct action based on these omnichannel insights. Being able to measure and execute omnichannel campaigns at scale is essential in confidently investing your dollars in the most impactful channels.

“2024 will be the year of maximizing first-party data and enhancing measurement to showcase omni-channel growth and incrementality. With the deprecation of the cookie becoming a heavier conversation, brands (including non-endemic advertisers) will need to lean heavier into utilizing first-party data to target relevant customers. As Retail Media Networks are continuing to make their data easier to access and measure on, advertisers are able to target prospective customers based on actual purchase data, allowing display and CTV (tactics that are traditionally known as upper-funnel) to become higher converting tactics.”

— Raquel Kozlowski, Sr. Manager, Retail Programmatic at Tinuiti

“I expect AMC audience usage to continue to expand in 2024, as tools become more standardized and advertisers demand more creativity and granularity with audience strategy. The possibilities with AMC audiences are endless, and they have already proven to be a great way to reach new customer subsets and drill down on the most relevant segments to drive high rates of engagement and conversion.”

— Duncan MacPhee, Specialist, Marketplaces Programmatic at Tinuiti

“Each year we learn and understand more about the purchase journey of consumers across multiple retailers, but with the widespread rollout of Amazon’s Real Time Mix and partnerships with third party data sources like Crisp, brands will have more reliable and holistic knowledge in 2024 than ever before. We can use this data to implement towards media strategy, understanding the degree in which each retailer impacts the others, and that firing on all cylinders will set brands ahead of the competition.”

— Jessi Shapp, Sr. Specialist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti

Powerful partnerships create new ad opportunities and better user experience

The giants in retail, social media, affiliate marketing, martech and more often leverage each other’s strengths to move quickly and intelligently in today’s increasingly complex advertising landscape. There are some interesting powerhouse partnerships in existence and shaping up that we’ll be keeping an eye on in 2024, including Amazon’s deals with Meta and Snap.

“Amazon’s deals with Meta and Snap signal another move around ‘making the purchase journey easier for the consumer’ as well as additional emphasis on the upper funnel. Giving consumers additional paths to easily make purchases will likely shorten the path to purchase, increasing the importance of having a presence on these channels, not just within Amazon. Look to the brands funding the full funnel to come out on top compared to those not wanting to sacrifice the short term ROAS by the end of 2024, while also keeping an eye on how this deal will eventually bleed into actual Amazon advertising opportunities down the road.”

— Ken Magner, Strategist, Marketplace Search at Tinuiti

“I’m looking forward to seeing how Amazon is going to innovate given the birth of TikTok Shop. There’s a great Wall Street Journal podcast about how the two platforms are directly trying to compete, especially as TikTok builds a network of fulfillment centers like Amazon. We saw Amazon launch the INSPIRE social shopping feed this year and Amazon Live a few years back, but how will they invest more into video and influencer components? Recently, Amazon and Meta announced a partnership that permits in-app purchases on Facebook and Instagram. More than ever, brands will be tasked with layering in external social media strategies into moments on Amazon to create buzz on and offsite. Amazon is a purchasing and research destination first, so how brands integrate that with external traffic drivers will be the big bet of the new year.”

— Megan King, Sr. Manager, Commerce Strategy at Tinuiti

Now is not the time to skimp on testing

With many brands facing uncertain marketing budgets, it can be difficult to bake testing into the strategy. That said, with all the new ad opportunities becoming available, not testing shouldn’t be considered an option or you’ll risk falling behind.

“Now more than ever is there a need to create space for a testing budget. Amazon has announced new placements like Prime Video ads, but there are other innovations in ad strategy brands will need to vet. Utilizing a separate budget with flexible metrics will enable brands to decide whether new betas are worth their weight. Same goes for omnichannel; understanding audience overlap (or lack thereof) between platforms will give better insight on how brand dollars should be spent.”

— Karie Casper, Strategist, Amazon Search at Tinuiti

Generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) Continue to Drive Innovation

As with all digital marketing sectors, the full impact of AI and LLMs in shaping and reshaping the future of retail media is still to be seen. Today, AI is being used in a number of ways, with Amazon recently “[debuting] AI technology for product images and ad targeting, aiming to enhance the quality of advertising on their platform.”

“I predict we will see more obvious deployments of Generative AI and Large Language Models directly within Amazon advertising platforms and product search functionality. As companies are increasingly being rewarded by higher share prices when they talk about all the ways they are using AI (regardless of impact or efficacy), we should expect even more new features in 2024. This year we’ve already seen ad copy suggestions, and the ability to use AI to generate lifestyle images within Ad Console for Sponsored Brand and Sponsored Display ads.

I expect there to be massive improvements in functionality and the quality of these outputs, and perhaps even see these tools be able to create high quality custom creative for DSP and video ads. This will level the playing field for smaller brands who are able to take advantage of these free tools and allow them to better compete with larger brands that leverage in-house teams or creative agencies.

We’ve also seen a recent announcement about being able to have a “conversational product search” with a chatbot on Amazon. It would not be a stretch to think that in 1-2 years similar uses of chatbots could be deployed within Ad Console to help less experienced advertisers get the most out of the platform by asking for strategic advice, suggested optimizations, and audits of existing campaigns.”

— Nick Sandberg, Strategist, Marketplaces at Tinuiti

“I predict that Amazon will greatly enhance their users’ shopping experience by offering more interactive and immersive ad experiences, including more video capabilities and AI. Right now, we are seeing AI create big waves across many industries, and I foresee Amazon being on the forefront of this innovation when it comes to advertising.”

— Lauren Wood, Manager, Marketplaces at Tinuiti

Enhanced collaboration encourages better campaigns and outcomes

We talk a lot about full-funnel advertising, but what about full-funnel collaboration? In today’s holistic advertising landscape, nearly every team not only needs to know what other teams are working on, but can also leverage their individual strengths to support them. As it turns out, team work really does make the dream work.

“In 2024, I expect the gap between the Merchant/Buying teams and the Marketing/Advertising teams to significantly shrink. Currently, some buying teams are not directly involved in marketing efforts that their brands are doing with the retailer. It’s imperative that the retailer marketing teams and buying teams work in closer collaboration to ensure that buying initiatives are tied to marketing initiatives. More and more merchants are becoming aware of the benefits of advertising and the specific levers that can be pulled. I expect this gap to shrink and buyers to become more involved in planning, and requesting, marketing support from the brands.”

— Scott Glaser, Director, Commerce Media at Tinuiti

Pending Kroger and Albertsons merger one to watch

Kroger has been busy with valuable advances for advertisers, including the recently revamped In-House Kroger Advertising Platform that went live in October.

“The launch of the new Kroger Ad Platform enables Tinuiti to manage our Kroger buys more efficiently by allowing us to see everything we need for our on-site campaigns within one platform. This gives us the ability to measure, gather insights and optimize campaigns quickly to drive better performance for our clients.”

— Raquel Kozlowski, Associate Director of Retail Programmatic at Tinuiti

But that isn’t all Kroger has been up to.

“It’s not every day that a retailer builds their own ad-serving platform. After Walmart’s launch in 2019 and Instacart’s in 2020, it’s been a quiet ride until now. Kroger won’t be the last, but there may not be another for a year or two. So for now, we’re closely watching to see the full effects of the potential Albertsons merger. If Kroger and Albertsons combine, they would have more physical locations than even Walmart.”

— Elizabeth Marsten, VP, Commerce Strategic Services at Tinuit

Conclusion

Want to learn more about what to expect from Amazon, Walmart, Instacart, Target, Kroger and other retail media networks next year? Be sure to download our 2024 Amazon & Retail Media Marketing Guide for more great insights, including which top retail media networks are most worth your attention. Our guide aims to help you in kicking off or growing your own retail media investment, with better clarity about your options and where it makes sense to devote your ad budget.

Editor’s Note: This blog post is updated annually to reflect the current and expected trends in the year ahead.

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

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The Future of Content Success Is Social

Here’s a challenge: search “SEO RFP” on Google. Click on the results, and tell me how similar they are.

We did the same thing every other SEO does: We asked, “What words are thematically relevant?” Which themes have my competitors missed?” How can I put them in?” AND “How can I do everything just slightly better than they can?”

Then they do the same, and it becomes a cycle of beating mediocre content with slightly less mediocre content.

When I looked at our high-ranking content, I felt uncomfortable. Yes, it ranked, but it wasn’t overly helpful compared to everything else that ranked.

Ranking isn’t the job to be done; it is just a proxy.

Why would a high-ranking keyword make me feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that the whole freaking job to be done? Not for me. The job to be done is to help educate people, and ranking is a byproduct of doing that well.

I looked at our own content, and I put myself in the seat of a searcher, not an SEO; I looked at the top four rankings and decided that our content felt easy, almost ChatGPT-ish. It was predictable, it was repeatable, and it lacked hot takes and spicy punches.

So, I removed 80% of the content and replaced it with the 38 questions I would ask if I was hiring an SEO. I’m a 25-year SME, and I know what I would be looking for in these turbulent times. I wanted to write the questions that didn’t exist on anything ranking in the top ten. This was a risk, why? Because, semantically, I was going against what Google was likely expecting to see on this topic. This is when Mike King told me about information gain. Google will give you a boost in ranking signals if you bring it new info. Maybe breaking out of the sea of sameness + some social signals could be a key factor in improving rankings on top of doing the traditional SEO work.

What’s worth more?

Ten visits to my SEO RFP post from people to my content via a private procurement WhatsApp group or LinkedIn group?

One hundred people to the same content from search?

I had to make a call, and I was willing to lose rankings (that were getting low traffic but highly valued traffic) to write something that when people read it, they thought enough about it to share it in emails, groups, etc.

SME as the unlock to standout content?

I literally just asked myself, “Wil, what would you ask yourself if you were hiring an SEO company? Then I riffed for 6—8 hours and had tons of chats with ChatGPT. I was asking ChatGPT to get me thinking differently. Things like, “what would create the most value?” I never constrained myself to “what is the search volume,” I started with the riffs.

If I was going to lose my rankings, I had to socially promote it so people knew it existed. That was an unlock, too, if you go this route. It’s work, you are now going to rely on spikes from social, so having a reason to update it and put it back in social is very important.

Most of my “followers” aren’t looking for SEO services as they are digital marketers themselves. So I didn’t expect this post to take off HUGLEY, but given the content, I was shocked at how well it did and how much engagement it got from real actual people.

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

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7 Things Creators Should Know About Marketing Their Book

Writing a book is a gargantuan task, and reaching the finish line is a feat equal to summiting a mountain.

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Being position-less secures a marketer’s position for a lifetime

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Optimove Positionless Marketer Optimove

On March 20, 2024, the Position-less Marketer was introduced on MarTech.org and my keynote address at Optimove’s user conference.

Since that initial announcement, we have introduced the term “Position-less Marketer” to hundreds of leading marketing executives and learned that readers and the audience interpreted it in several ways. This article will document a few of those interpretations and clarify what “position-less” means regarding marketing prowess.

As a reminder, data analytics and AI, integrated marketing platforms, automation and more make the Position-less Marketer possible. Plus, new generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Canna-GPT, Github, Copilot and DALL-E offer human access to powerful new capabilities that generate computer code, images, songs and videos, respectively, with human guidance.

Position-less Marketer does not mean a marketer without a role; quite the opposite

Speaking with a senior-level marketer at a global retailer, their first interpretation may be a marketer without a role/position. This was a first-glance definition from more than 60% of the marketers who first heard the term. But on hearing the story and relating it to “be position-less” in other professions, including music and sports, most understood it as a multidimensional marketer — or, as we noted, realizing your multipotentiality. 

One executive said, phrasing position-less in a way that clarified it for me was “unlocking your multidimensionality.” She said, “I like this phrase immensely.” In reality, the word we used was “multipotentiality,” and the fact that she landed on multidimensionality is correct. As we noted, you can do more than one thing.

The other 40% of marketing executives did think of the “Position-less Marketer” as a marketing professional who is not confined or defined by traditional marketing roles or boundaries. In that sense, they are not focused only on branding or digital marketing; instead, they are versatile and agile enough to adjust to the new conditions created by the tools that new technology has to offer. As a result, the Position-less Marketer should be comfortable working across channels, platforms and strategies, integrating different approaches to achieve marketing goals effectively.

Navigating the spectrum: Balancing specialization and Position-less Marketing

Some of the most in-depth feedback came from data analytic experts from consulting firms and Chief Marketing Officers who took a more holistic view.

Most discussions of the “Position-less Marketer” concept began with a nuanced perspective on the dichotomy between entrepreneurial companies and large enterprises.

They noted that entrepreneurial companies are agile and innovative, but lack scalability and efficiency. Conversely, large enterprises excel at execution but struggle with innovation due to rigid processes.

Drawing parallels, many related this to marketing functionality, with specialists excelling in their domain, but needing a more holistic perspective and Position-less Marketers having a broader understanding but needing deep expertise.

Some argued that neither extreme is ideal and emphasized the importance of balancing specialization and generalization based on the company’s growth stage and competitive landscape.

They highlight the need for leaders to protect processes while fostering innovation, citing Steve Jobs’ approach of creating separate teams to drive innovation within Apple. They stress the significance of breaking down silos and encouraging collaboration across functions, even if it means challenging existing paradigms.

Ultimately, these experts recommended adopting a Position-less Marketing approach as a competitive advantage in today’s landscape, where tight specialization is common. They suggest that by connecting dots across different functions, companies can offer unique value to customers. However, they caution against viewing generalization as an absolute solution, emphasizing the importance of context and competitive positioning.

These marketing leaders advocate for a balanced marketing approach that leverages specialization and generalization to drive innovation and competitive advantage while acknowledging the need to adapt strategies based on industry dynamics and competitive positioning.

Be position-less, but not too position-less — realize your multipotentiality

This supports what was noted in the March 20th article: to be position-less, but not too position-less. When we realize our multipotentiality and multidimensionality, we excel as humans. AI becomes an augmentation.

But just because you can individually execute on all cylinders in marketing and perform data analytics, writing, graphics and more from your desktop does not mean you should.

Learn when being position-less is best for the organization and when it isn’t. Just because you can write copy with ChatGPT does not mean you will write with the same skill and finesse as a professional copywriter. So be position-less, but not too position-less.

Position-less vs. being pigeonholed

At the same time, if you are a manager, do not pigeonhole people. Let them spread their wings using today’s latest AI tools for human augmentation.

For managers, finding the right balance between guiding marketing pros to be position-less and, at other times, holding their position as specialists and bringing in specialists from different marketing disciplines will take a lot of work. We are at the beginning of this new era. However, working toward the right balance is a step forward in a new world where humans and AI work hand-in-hand to optimize marketing teams.

We are at a pivot point for the marketing profession. Those who can be position-less and managers who can optimize teams with flawless position-less execution will secure their position for a lifetime.

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