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The future of audience engagement: Navigating challenges and embracing AI

The future of audience engagement: Navigating challenges and embracing AI

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The landscape of audience engagement is undergoing significant transformations, fuelled by advancements in technology, changing consumer behaviours, and evolving marketing strategies.

A recent round table discussion with senior marketers and leaders in Singapore, in partnership with event technology platform Hubilo, shed light on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in this dynamic environment.

The participants delved into the major challenges faced by marketers, and the impact of emerging trends, particularly generative AI, on the future of audience engagement.

Transitioning to a cookie-less future

The imminent demise of third-party cookies is a continued area of focus for marketers globally. Anne Ng, director of marketing and communications at GroupM, APAC, emphasised the need for brands and publishers to spend more time providing value to consumers.

“For publishers, this involves earning the right to communicate with their audiences through opt-in choices and gathering true consent; while marketers are focusing on building first-party databases where they can understand the passion points of their buyers and communicate better with them over time,” she said.

“The entire industry is pivoting into a new era of digital advertising, founded on addressability that’s driven by consent-based and opted-in first-party data.”

This transition poses both technological and strategic challenges for agencies, as they navigate new ways of working and adapting to the changing digital landscape.

Educating and persuading non-digital natives

Janice Beh, director of marketing and strategy at UPS Healthcare, shed some light on the challenges of educating a more conservative audience about the benefits of digital transformation.

“Our customers include doctors from clinics, from hospitals, etc, and one of our challenges is to change the mindset towards digitalising the entire healthcare ecosystem, because realistically speaking, these customers are more conservative in how they want to be reached,” she said.

“They prefer to touch or see it physically before deciding what to buy. So, it’s become a gap whereby how can I impress a doctor to buy and make decisions online.”

Standout takeaways for audience engagement

Devan Sehgal, enterprise account director at Hubilo, highlighted three key takeaways. “Number one, personalisation is very important when you’re conducting outreach, showing them that you are listening to them and understanding them.

“Number two, contextualisation; you may understand your customer, but when and how are you actually entering into that buying journey, and are you following through, tracking all the footnotes, etc? And number three is providing the right solutions at the right time through the right channels.”

The game-changing potential of generative AI

Discussants unanimously agreed that generative AI holds immense potential for transforming the future of marketing. William Chin, founder and CEO of Mummys Market, likened the impact of AI on marketing to the transformative effect of the iPhone on the world. He predicted that AI would revolutionise graphics, images, videos, and even create AI influencers.

However, Pedro Ramirez, regional digital marketing director at Mindshare, cautioned about the ethical and privacy concerns surrounding AI and its implications for consumer-brand interactions. Ramirez stressed the need for addressing copyright issues and establishing responsible practices in leveraging AI technology.

The proliferation of content and the offline connection

Upali Dasgupta, marketing director for APAC at Meltwater, highlighted the challenge posed by “…the proliferation of content. Not just ads, but content. It’s going to become harder and harder to sift through that content to figure out what is human created, and what is supplemented with AI. And as a result, the offline connection will become more and more important.

“So, what should brands do in that situation to build credibility? It’s many of the same problems we already face, just in a different environment.”

Living and working with AI
There is ample research supporting the observations made by the participants regarding the transformative impact of AI on audience engagement. According to the 2022 Global Artificial Intelligence report by MarketsandMarkets, the global AI market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 29.7% from 2022 to 2027.

This growth is driven by the increasing adoption of AI-powered solutions across various marketing activities, including audience targeting, personalisation, content generation, and customer engagement. The study highlights the potential of AI to revolutionise marketing strategies and enhance customer experiences.

The report also emphasised the significance of AI-generated content and the emergence of AI influencers. It predicts that AI will play a crucial role in creating and optimising content assets such as graphics, images, and videos, enabling marketers to deliver highly personalised and engaging experiences to their audiences. The study also acknowledges the ethical and privacy concerns surrounding AI in marketing, emphasising the need for responsible and transparent practices.

Conclusion

The future of audience engagement will be marked by the ongoing transition to a cookie-less future, the challenges of managing teams through change and uncertainty, and the necessity of educating and relating to one’s target audience.

The key takeaways of personalisation, contextualisation, and providing the right solutions at the right time through the right channels, highlight the strategic approaches necessary to engage audiences effectively.

As the marketing landscape evolves, the transformative potential of generative AI offers both opportunities and ethical considerations that marketers must navigate to create meaningful and impactful audience engagement experiences.

By staying agile, embracing innovation, and adopting responsible practices, marketers can thrive in the dynamic landscape of audience engagement in the years to come.

Reference: MarketsandMarkets research (2022). Global Artificial Intelligence Market in Marketing – Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact, and Forecasts (2022-2027).

This post was written in collaboration with Hubilo.

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