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AI isn’t the only marketing changing technology

When it comes to the trends and technologies shaping marketing today, it’s easy to see why AI has been making headlines.

The rise of generative AI represents a watershed moment for marketers, transforming the landscape of creative expression. To stay relevant in the age of quantum marketing, CMOs must embrace and leverage AI – and the majority of marketers are already starting to do so. But it’s worth remembering that AI is far from the only emerging technology presenting considerable opportunity.

In fact, there are currently around 20 digital technologies disrupting the industry, including augmented and virtual reality, 5G, robotics and wearable devices. The confluence of these technologies will have a profound impact on marketing, influencing every facet of a brand’s relationship with consumers.

To survive in this new paradigm, marketers must be open-minded and move quickly and smartly to adopt, test and prove the value of these technologies, while protecting consumer privacy and data.

Broaden your aperture to seize opportunities in emerging technologies

Marketers must face the reality that technology is changing the way we can and should interact with consumers and customers. Skilled marketers build emotional connections, and that type of creativity can’t be replaced. But new technologies can dramatically enhance our creative capabilities, expand our reach and help us measure results. Achieving this balance creates the best of both worlds and ensures that marketers, not robots, are the ones driving the industry forward.

We are in a period of rapid and ongoing change in consumer behavior that shows no signs of slowing down. For example, Apple’s recent launch of the Vision Pro, with reported sales of 200,000 units, may seem modest, but it serves as a compelling signal for marketers to take note. As AR/VR/MR devices become more commonplace, a multitude of new opportunities will emerge, fundamentally changing the way we interact with audiences on these new platforms.

Participants in Mastercard's Artist Accelerator program pictured in front of a step-and-repeat at the launch event

Mastercard’s Artist Accelerator program is a creative way for the brand to explore new technologies through community and music.


Investing in innovation, experimentation

Adopting a culture of continuous learning is essential to ensure a brand’s resilience in the future, but traditional budgets are primarily focused on short-term performance and results. By dedicating part of the overall budget to innovation, our goal shifts from simply meeting and exceeding benchmarks to stimulating curiosity in real time. This allows us to actively and quickly explore how emerging tools and strategies can deepen our connection with customers.

At Mastercard, “Sandbox” innovation challenges ask employees to submit ideas that solve a specific problem or adopt a new technology. The enthusiasm generated by these challenges has been remarkable, as they give everyone the opportunity to step outside of their usual role and express their creativity. We also budgeted to bring key ideas to life.

One example is the Mastercard Artist Accelerator, a technology and talent-focused music program designed to help emerging artists create, collaborate and monetize their work using emerging technologies like GenAI and Web3. Launched in 2023, the successful initiative went from a Sandbox challenge submission to market launch within weeks.

Prepare to define your own measures of success

It’s important to remember that at the cutting edge of marketing, traditional KPIs alone may not be a good indicator of success. Emerging platforms may have smaller audiences or non-traditional use cases, making them ill-suited for an apples-to-apples comparison. If you’re following a platform or strategy that hasn’t been truly leveraged yet, you don’t have the benefit of established case studies or benchmarks.

On the other hand, new data-driven capabilities allow us to connect the dots throughout the consumer journey, proving quantifiable impact when we simply assumed value before. The upside is that it gives marketers immense freedom to determine if and how investments pay off.

Be smart and responsible data managers

In a world dominated by emerging technologies, where every device is connected and every connected device captures a lot of information, it’s no surprise that marketers have more consumer data than any other professional group. And marketing significantly contributes to and shapes the data ecosystem.

This highlights the critical role CMOs play in responsibly reshaping our approach to collecting, securing and using the data consumers share with us. Consent and privacy by design, a philosophy that minimizes data collection and integrates privacy considerations into every stage of product development, are excellent guiding principles for every business in our rapidly evolving digital landscape.

By embracing change, handling data responsibly, and investing in innovation, brand leaders can make emerging technologies their stepping stones – not their stumbling blocks – as they move the industry forward .

Raja Rajamannar is Chief Marketing and Communications Officer and President of Healthcare at Mastercard.


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