The New Era of Marketing and Technology: Looking Ahead

Dave Zitting Future of Marketing

By: Dave Zitting and John Seroka
This was originally published in California Mortgage Finance News, a California Mortgage Bankers Association publication.

Results. We want them quicker now than ever before. There’s an app for just about everything you want to do in your life. Want to get healthy? There’s an app for that – try Fitbit which allows you to control your weight, set goals, monitor your physical activity and calories burned, map your running routes and much more all in one place. No need to build spreadsheets and gather information from a collection of devices. Would you like a personal assistant? There’s an app for that too – try Speaktoit which will search for websites, make calls, get weather data and help you prepare for meetings. Suffice it to say that since the birth of the iPhone, we’ve been conditioned as a society to expect more and more from technology.

It used to be that enterprises (medium to large businesses) were the primary users of technology. Enterprise technology vendors like IBM, Oracle, Salesforce and many others would, and still do in many cases, target the CIO of an organization with their solutions. The focus of the technology was to capture, store, manage and deliver content and documents to eliminate paper, lower costs and create other efficiencies. However, the accelerated growth of content and information, the Cloud, analytics and collaborative technologies at a time when workforces were becoming increasingly mobile started to drive change.

Enterprises are no longer the primary purchasers and users of technology. This change has happened largely over the last decade and arguably started about 20 years ago. Remember the Palm OS released back in 1996? A bit clumsy to use, but early adopters were all over it. It was the first true PDA (personal digital assistant) that allowed for basic functions to organize your day, store contacts and take notes. Then, shortly thereafter, was the introduction of the Nokia phone that came with a game called “Snake” which landed in the pockets of millions. Fast forward to the release of the iPhone in ’07 and about a year later the App Store was launched with 552 apps created by third party alpha “rock star” developers…and life changed as 10 million app downloads were recorded within a week!

Now, Android users have access to over 1.6 million apps. Apple’s App Store gives consumers access to over 1.5 million apps. This kind of rapid innovation makes it so that consumers just want an end result, which is what these apps all do their best to provide – constantly updating to provide the best user experience they can deliver.

Today, the bottom line is that enterprise level technology platforms like IBM, Salesforce and others that you use to manage your business, sales efforts, marketing and more are becoming obsolete. We now live in a world of apps that are designed to provide us with the results we’re looking for in an instant. And, not just any result, but the very end result. For example, if you’re in a rental car travelling to a meeting and want to get a Starbucks coffee on the way, you don’t need to pull over to Google it and then open a separate app to find a location, you just ask Siri and she’ll find it for you and start telling you how to get there in about 5 seconds. This is the level of responsiveness that people expect from technology now. Anything less is too much work and wears quickly on the nerves of a populace accustomed to instant gratification.

What does this mean for the future of marketing?

When it comes to marketing, businesses are demanding the same thing – just bring me the end result. They don’t care what steps you took to get there, they just want to have the customer materialize in front of them. So, much like their alpha developer counterparts, enterprise developers are creating apps that businesses and business people can use with the goal of delivering the end result to replace older platforms still in broad use today that enable users to simply “do a lot of marketing.” Newer platforms, however, focus on smarter, data-driven marketing to help businesses find only their most valuable prospects.

So, where does this data come from and how is it used?

Frequently, companies will turn to 3rd party data sources like BlueKai or eXelerate which are data aggregators. For the most part, they pay publishers to let them collect information on site visitors and then segment the data into various user profiles. Then, this data gets sold to advertisers who use it to develop highly targeted online ad campaigns, called “programmatic display.” The data they sell is great for demographic, behavioral and contextual targeting of online ads. These online ads are programmed to reach the specific people that fit the correct profile when they visit particular websites. These people are targeted according to their behavior, demographic makeup and context…the closest you can get to PII (personally identifiable information) without actually having it.

Here’s one example of how all of this comes together to the benefit of all parties in a real estate transaction…

Not long ago, Nationstar launched an end-to-end real estate platform called “Xome,” giving homebuyers a better alternative to Zillow, Trulia and other apps with far less functionality. Once in the Xome app, users can search homes, place offers, sell a home, arrange inspections, arrange appraisals, become prequalified by a Nationstar MLO, receive and e-sign most mortgage documents and more. Users also receive a minimum 1% savings on the transaction if they close through Xome which also means using a Xome-approved Realtor®. Accordingly, this app provides a win-win-win situation for the consumer, Xome and the Realtor®.

From what we can see, Xome has a site retargeting strategy (based upon ads that we’ve seen after visiting their site) and likely has a programmatic display strategy in place as well that leverages third party data sources. That’s just a guess, but probably accurate and would make sense since it was just launched and they surely want to build their brand awareness and drive users.

In an interview with investors, Jay Bray, Nationstar CEO, states “Today, real estate search engines allow you to search for homes, find the estimated property value of your home and, somewhat realistically, those of your neighbors.” He goes on to say, “However, these search engines are not currently designed to allow consumers to transact.”

The future of marketing is upon us and it’s all about obtaining real results. We’re quickly moving away from a long era of enterprise technology solutions that capture, store and manage data and into an era where data is analyzed, correlations are made and real results can be instantly provided. In fact, right now, there are new technologies that we’re either aware of or directly participate in, that will change the game for real estate professionals and consumers alike – all with the end result as the top priority!

Stay tuned…