TMW #015 | Synthetic content, marketing agility and behavioral economics

Oct 23, 2020

Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I try to look to where the industry is going and make sense of it all.

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👌Top #3

🏴 Synthetic Content is an emerging trend where content is increasingly becoming automated by machine learning algorithms. It’s both a serious misinformation problem and a significant opportunity for marketers and advertisers. This is because the concept of a machine learning algorithm producing articles, creating fake people to place in advertising and even producing realistic, human-like responses for messenger services all point to reducing content costs without a significant trade off in customer experience. As we're starting to see the lines between real people doing things online and bots powered by misinformation hackers, it's becoming all too real and kinda scary. GPT-3, the latest in ML technology is now writing highly acclaimed thought pieces for major news publications, writing emails for people and creating movie scripts. We can see the potential of synthetic media with IKEA’s use case where the brand created "fake" influencers to showcase their products, with the reception from customers largely positive. We'll eventually see that consumers will care less and less if a real person is endorsing a brand or even if the content they are browsing is even real as the machines start ramping up production. For many brands going synthetic, it can be a significant cost saver, all of sudden you don't need a videographer, an actual celebrity, a set or a lunch table to feed the crew - you just need a few engineers in a room and some computing power. Also, if GPT-3 can continuously crank out marketing copy and design variations for personalisation, the scale of what's possible becomes limitless. Companies like VWO are already doing this, with many to follow. However the question should be asked from an ethics standpoint - what's the trade off when tools like these are in the hands of bad actors? Deep fake videos, and the like are a serious problem for misinformation and one that we're just starting to grasp. But just like the online advertising ecosystem, what makes sense for business may not make sense for society. Artificial Intelligence and it's by product, synthetic content, is already shaping societies, but we all have a responsibility to think about how companies adopt such tech. Here's a fascinating listen on the issue. Link (podcast).

🏃‍♀️ Marketing Agility. Deloitte has recently released their Global Marketing Trends 2021 report with a major focus on agile ways of working and digital transformation. It's a survey conducted with over 2,500 marketers and 400 C-Suite professionals. It's not surprising to see trends towards digital agility in marketing as companies are attempting to adopt more technology to meet their customer’s needs or are pushed into digital channels by the pandemic. If you ask most people working in customer experience what their number one complaint is, most of the time it has something to do with operational silos, lack of resources or process to help them build what they need to build or complexities around data. Another recently published piece of research from Salesforce and Datorama highlights that marketers are spending around 64% of their week harmonising data, which again is compounded by a lack of process to activate on and use technology effectively. But that's changing. Leaders are now seeing that agile ways of working, when pulled off correctly can drive a significant improvement in the ability to deliver customer experiences progressively and at scale. To highlight one success story (in everything else below), is how The New York Times reconfigured their business to digital channels over the past 10 years to bring journalists, IT, design product and marketing together within agile frameworks and saw the newspaper see its first cash positive balance of the decade this year. One of the challenges for non-agile companies is that people in traditional business structures tend to look at principles like decentralised decision making and the concept of cross functional squads and can't make sense of how it can be efficient outside of a hierarchical framework. But as more companies adopt agile as the norm, the trend is moving toward greater creativity, flexibility and innovation which is driving business value and delivering experiences for customers who are increasingly digitally savvy and are expecting nothing but the best from the brands they interact with online. Link

👨‍⚕️ Behavioural economics and CX. I look at how marketers can get an edge by studying behavioural economics and how one brand went deep into this field and got some surprising results. This one is in the subscriber version of TMW. Sign up here to get a link to the full version.

📈Chart Of The Week

I look at some new research from Forrester on why the "single customer view" is the most important capability for companies in the US and EMEA. Sign up here to get a link to the full version and the chart.

📚 Everything Else

The Broem is those super annoying clickbaity LinkedIn posts that are so popular right now. You know the ones that read as one sentence at a time? Here's a great read on why people are doing it and some history behind the trend. Link

6 Months later, Quibi is shutting down. Not surprising. They were burning through $1,400 in cash per minute and spent more than $60 million in advertising. Hubris, over confidence and over investment to the tune of $1.8 billion saw this streaming company's short demise. It’s a cautionary tale for brands who are investing into ideas that have not yet been validated. Link ($)

Disney's digital transformation. An interesting read on Disney's pivot and how the brand is consolidating everything into a digital ecosystem. Link

Holocaust Denial. Facebook has now broken their own freedom of speech rules to remove holocaust deniers the ability to publish on their platform. Things are moving towards social media moderation, can we really still say that Facebook is not a media company? Link

What are the teens doing online? A fascinating report into teenage consumer behaviour during the pandemic. Link

How the New York Times turned things around. The company has seen it's first positive cashflow year in a decade. They got there by investing more into journalists and their digital brand. Currently sitting at 6 million paying subscribers. Link

The Ocean Spray TikTok moment. What can brands learn about that Fleetwood mac video everyone on earth now knows about? Well, you really can't force accidents like that happening. Link

Organising Idea. How can teams move from a customer experience vision to a tactical and strategic direction to realise it? Create an organising idea. Link

AfterPay and Westpac. AfterPay is partnering up with Westpac (Australia’s oldest bank) as a win-win to power next generation banking technology. Also AfterPay gets a proper banking platform to expand their capabilities. Link

Google and Antitrust (again). The US department of justice has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit against Google for maintaining a monopoly on search products. There's some noise about that Chrome will be put forward as one of the business divisions jettisoned instead of a break up of the parent organisation. Link

Barriers to marketing growth. Recent research out of Salesforce and Datorama suggests that marketers are struggling the most with alignment between teams and technology, and it's taking a toll on the bottom line. Link

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Juan Mendoza

Juan Mendoza is an expert in researching global media, marketing, data, and technology trends. He is the CEO of The Martech Weekly, a media and research brand with subscribers in over 65 countries.

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