2020 State of Branding Report Reveals Marketers Divided Over Automation's Role in Branding

Three in four marketers believing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will affect branding.

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New research from Bynder, the global leader in digital asset management (DAM), reveals that although marketers recognize the acute need for technology, they struggle to balance productivity with creative excellence as capabilities evolve from conceptual possibilities into tangible applications.

The 2020 State of Branding Report found that despite three in four marketers believing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will affect branding, they remain divided as to whether they will harm or help in the long term.

Nearly 56% of respondents believe these capabilities will negatively impact their branding efforts in 2020, either by diminishing creativity, eliminating jobs or producing less brand differentiation.

Meanwhile, 24% believe AI will have a positive impact, while 23% believe branding cannot be automated at all. In addition to uncertainty about the lasting consequences of today’s investments, marketers also worry about a range of new challenges accompanying the rise of tech-enabled branding, including skills gaps, data overload and more.

Although marketing and branding professionals are grappling with how new technologies will impact some aspects of their work, they’re not opposed to capitalizing on the early benefits of new solutions—most notably in content creation. Under pressure to engage with audiences across more channels than ever, the report found that 58% of marketers plan to create at least 25% more content this year, relative to last year—leaning on technology to help them do it. Enabling more efficient content creation is considered the top benefit of automation in marketing, with one in two marketers planning to leverage technology to automate administrative tasks associated with content creation in 2020.

“Marketing organizations readily adopted technology for analytics, digital channels and other functions that clearly benefit from automation,” says Andrew Hally, senior vice president of global marketing at Bynder. “The challenge ahead is to harness emerging technologies like AI to maintain creative excellence while satisfying business demand for growing volumes and faster delivery.”

What other trends, opportunities and challenges are top of mind for marketers in 2020?

Growing brand awareness is this year’s top concern. There are countless platforms, channels and strategies to prioritize in the hopes of growing brand awareness. Users have more power than ever before, so figuring out the best way to gain mindshare with an audience is a top concern for this year’s respondents (43%).

As the role of technology in branding evolves, the martech explosion will continue. As the martech industry continues to expand, two-thirds of marketers (68%) plan to increase the number of solutions they use this year, while only 10% intend to decrease. In addition to widespread confusion about who is responsible for implementation, the rise of tech-enabled marketing brings a new set of challenges—most notably a skills gap in the marketing team (21%), data overload (20%) and too many options to choose from (18%).

The impact of enhanced infosecurity regulation is up in the air. When asked whether security and regulation are preventing marketing efforts from reaching their potential impact and audiences, respondents were split57% reported yes, while 43% said no. Overall, despite intensified focus and new regulation like the CCPA, violating consumer privacy remains low on the totem pole of marketer troubles, with only 11% citing this as their top concern in 2020.

Conducted in partnership with an independent market research company, the report features insights from 500 marketing and branding professionals in the United States and 500 in the United Kingdom.