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Several new technologies and trends are poised to occupy the coveted (sarcasm alert) position of the “Year of [ ]” in 2018. So which one should marketers be most worried about? As it stands, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the trend for which marketers feel most unprepared, according to a recent study [download page] from Conductor.

A Different Kind of Intelligence

As part of its study, Conductor identified 4 key trends and asked 500 marketing industry respondents to identify the one for which they feel most unprepared.

Artificial Intelligence emerged on top of that list, cited by roughly one-third (34%) of respondents.

About half of marketers globally are already using artificial intelligence in their marketing efforts, research from Salesforce has found. And AI is the fastest-growing marketing tool or technology in terms of planned usage, with another 27% expecting to adopt AI in their marketing within the next couple of years.

AI is being used in areas such as SEO and email, and is also considered to be one of the most important online trends affecting user experience in the next 5 years.

Yet marketers have their work cut out for them in getting ahead of the curve, as evidenced by the Conductor survey results.

A Different Kind of Reality

Close behind AI, roughly 3 in 10 survey respondents pointed to Virtual Reality (VR) / Augmented Reality (AR) as the trend for which they feel the most unprepared in 2018.

In terms of marketers’ applications of VR and AR, people are most interested in seeing brands and advertisers use virtual reality to demo products before purchase. Some also say they’d be interested in how-to and DIY instructions from brands using virtual reality. A number of virtual shopping concepts also find appeal among early adopters of these technologies.

A Different Kind of Search

Meanwhile, fewer – but still a significant number (23%) of – marketers indicate that Voice Search is the trend for which they feel the most underprepared in 2018. With Smart Speaker penetration poised to hit an important milestone this holiday season, this seems like a particularly fast-moving trend, especially as Google reports that voice already accounts for 1 in 5 searches. There are also signs that as Smart Speaker adoption grows, voice is replacing swiping and typing.

Other Survey Highlights: MarTech Stats

  • More than 7 in 10 respondents to Conductor’s survey report using at least 6 marketing technologies.
  • Roughly 9 in 10 introduced at least one new marketing technology this year.
  • Two-thirds of marketing executives anticipate spending more on marketing technology next year, including 44% who expect their budgets to increase by more than 10%.
  • A majority (56%) agree that in general they’re overwhelmed by the amount of data they have available in their marketing stack because it takes too much time and analysis to find insight.

The full study is available for download here [download page].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 500 marketing executives from B2B (29%), B2C (14%) and both B2B & B2C (26%) companies, along with agencies, publishers, and others.

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