10 Years in 1 Day: A Decade in Digital Marketing

9 min readNov 16, 2022


Imagine this: You fell asleep at a friend’s New Year’s party and you’ve just woken up. The only thing is, it was Dec 31 2021 when you arrived but now you look at the calendar on the kitchen wall you realize it’s January 1st 2022! Just like that, 10 years have flown by!

After you struggle out the door, you find yourself standing in a vaguely familiar street and you find that same battered old brown wallet in your back pocket. Somehow you were cryogenically frozen (but that’s a story for another day) and now you have a lot of catching up to do.

Let’s look at the world around and see how things have changed, especially for you — a tech afficionado and one of the first digital people in your company’s marketing department.

Contactless Connectivity

It’s New Year’s morning and the whole world feels a bit disoriented, not just you. You need to find your way home. You stroll to the bus stop, which is still there, (but with a new fancy tracker that tells you when the buses are coming), and realize your annual pass might be out of date. Looking sheepishly at the bus driver while you fumble for coins in your pocket, he asks if you have contactless on your debit or credit card.

You remember that back in 2012 you had noticed the contactless logo on your bank card with skepticism, never imagining it would ever catch on). But now, you’re invited to tap your card on the payment terminal by the driver and take a seat and watch everyone else do the same.

Today, contactless card payments are considered the norm — 60 million contactless journeys were logged in the London Underground the six months following its introduction to the system in 2021. And, this shift towards a cashless, contactless society has changed the consumer playing field for brands across sectors and in many countries where cash is rarely carried.

The mass consumer uptake in contactless technology has led to developments that resulted in mobile payments including Google Pay and Apple Wallet. This rise in payment options has prompted notable enhancements in customer experience (CX) — an element of digital marketing that experts predict will be a primary brand differentiator in 2022.

Over the past decades, contactless and mobile and contactless payments have changed the playing field almost as much as Netflix (what’s that, you say? Don’t worry, you’ll find out later).

Basically, in this brave new world, we have complex miniature computers in our pockets (hence Apply Pay, etc.), meaning that the average consumer lives and breathes mobile. In fact, there are more smartphones on the planet than there are humans.

Omni-channel Experiences

You hop off your bus in the town center. Apart from some new cafes and places offering you to do something called vape, not much has changed. But you, being a techie, can’t help but notice all the digital ads around the place.

Looking at your precious old iPhone 4 (once the envy of your friends), it’s clear it has become worn and even a bit rusty, particularly when you see some teens strut past with huge screens and all kinds of sparkly gadgets dangling from their handsets. Yes, it’s time to grab yourself an upgrade. So, with a newfound spring in your step (and hope that your credit card might work), you waltz into the nearest mobile store.

Everything looks enticing and the in-store ‘mobile guru’ springs over to offer assistance.

After trying not to show how you’re blown away by these beautiful machines, you settle on a satisfactory plan, and your new device soon leaps into action. Immediately, you’re prompted to download the network’s own mobile app and you’re given lots of personalized content based on your discussion with the sales guy.

You don’t know it, but you’ve just stumbled across your first ever omni-channel marketing experience. An evolution that’s taken hold organically over the past decade, omni-channel marketing is focused on creating a seamless journey across every single platform or touchpoint.

By mapping the customer journey cohesively, a host of brands have achieved complete cohesion between their online and offline marketing activities, catalyzing their success in the process. In fact, consumers who have an omni-channel experience boast a 250% higher spending frequency than single-channel shoppers.

You begin to scroll and before long, you’re back on Facebook and Twitter — and thanks to the advice from your personalized mobile app you’re soon setting up accounts on TikTok and Instagram account. Social media feeds and some other features have changed since you’ve been asleep, but maybe you should make your way home first before taking a few hours to really catch up on your friends and acquaintances.

Glancing at the scene around you, it’s clear that no one is really talking on their phones, they’re just ‘getting social.’ There’s a teen sitting outside a nearby vegan cafe choreographing a ‘dairy-free latte dance video’ for their TikTok followers. And, oh, there are a few people taking pictures of themselves by attaching their phones to long sticks while grinning.

Mesmerized by the changes a decade has brought, you continue on your journey with wide-eyed amazement. Before long, you feel a beeping in your pocket.

You receive a notification telling you that you’re entitled to a discount from a nearby home furnishing store, one of your mobile provider’s brand partners. More omni-channel marketing in action.

Immersive technology

You stop to peek inside the furniture store you remember from childhood, now busy with kaleidoscopic digital displays, interactive mobile screens, and weird VR-style headsets, and find it swarming with post-Christmas sale shoppers. Rather than enter, you decide to download the app which you’re delighted to discover is powered by augmented reality (AR), something you’d only ever come across before in the 2002 movie Minority Report.

While you were lying in a frozen state, everything has become personalized.

Back in 2010, a brand that called a customer by name was considered personalization, and now it’s a marketing standard. In today’s hyper-connected digital world, consumers crave value-driven content, offers, and product suggestions that suit their specific needs. Here are some insights that illustrate that notion:

  • 57% of consumers are happy to share personal data in return for personalized offers or discounts.
  • 62% of consumers expect brands to send personalized offers or discounts based on the items they’ve already purchased.
  • 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide relevant offers, deals, and content recommendations.

While you’ve been exploring scandi-style sofas on your immersive furniture app, you’ve noticed that it’s serving up tailored product and content suggestions based on your preferences and browser behavior. This is modern personalization in action and you’re impressed. And then you notice the augmented reality-based retail shopping experience.

The app you’ve landed on is Ikea Place. You know, the one you downloaded rather than going into the store. An AR-driven mobile platform that lets you play around with different items of furniture virtually, you can see how it matches to existing decorations or things within your home. Pretty handy, right?

An early adopter of immersive consumer technology, Ikea generated €35 billion in sales in 2016, and this app was a driving force in the brand’s success.

An innovator of digital transformation within the retail sector, Ikea recently launched an ideas hub named Space10. This cutting-edge digital platform is a space for developing disruptive new products and ideas in a collaborative environment — an initiative that has so far resulted in the brand’s ground-breaking new autonomous car designs.

You’ve picked a nice sideboard to go in your lounge based on the suggestions and immersive functions of the app (although, the decor in your home might be a little different than it was when you last left it).

In addition to AR, virtual reality (VR) has also taken off since you’ve been ‘asleep’. To date, 75% of the biggest brands on the planet have injected VR into their marketing strategy. Plus, experts project that the VR market will be worth a sizable $209 billion by 2021.

VR is a potent marketing tool as it allows consumers to get up close and personal with a brand and its products, placing the shopper at the heart of the experience. As the market grows and immersive technology continues to evolve at a rapid rate, we’re likely to witness some impressive feats of VR marketing in 2020.

While you hop on the bus back home, you can ponder the rise of VR by exploring these seven examples of successful virtual reality marketing.

It’s time to go home and see if everything is still intact — or if the key you found in your pocket even works.

Autonomous technology

On the way home, your bus gets stuck in roadworks (yes, they’re still everywhere), so you follow every other passenger’s lead and turn to your smartphone to pass the time.

You fire up Google and start punching in a multitude of search queries (you’ve been out of touch for 10 years, after all) and notice the results are much closer to what you’re actually looking for. That’s because search results (SERPS) have changed dramatically over the last decade.

The results you see are far more nuanced and based on the context of your search, rather than returning content based very rigidly on the exact key terms you punched into the engine. Yes, search engine optimization (SEO) has changed dramatically — and semantic search is one of the driving forces.

Powered by autonomous technology, semantic search is based on delivering results that are more nuanced and, therefore, customized to the user. Machine learning (ML) is used to help understand a user on a deeper level. And, because of this development, search marketers must create meaningful campaigns based on an understanding of why someone is searching rather than merely producing watery content based on a key term alone. Viva la content revolution.

There are a host of autonomous concepts used these days — and artificial intelligence is changing digital marketing in a number of exciting ways.

Before you finally hop off the bus, you realize you have a sizing inquiry about the nice sideboard you bought, so you quickly hop onto a live chat on your phone. Within moments your query is solved thanks to a swift interchange with a helpful customer service agent named Anna. She is actually a chatbot — an AI-powered bot with the ability to converse and carry out a range of basic actions completely autonomously.

Guess what? Chatbots are now the norm. In fact, 90% of today’s businesses confirm swifter complaint resolution rates with chatbots.

Voice command

Finally, you’re home and your key worked! You’ve still got the same carpet and the same wallpaper and when you enter your lounge, rather amazingly, you still have the same roommates — AND somehow, they’ve been expecting you (now there’s a sci-fi twist).

After a rapid-fire round of hugs and explanations, your roommate, Bob, says he wants to play you a song from 2021; he’s puffing on an electric cigarette, which is weird. You hear him say, “Alexa, play Old Town Road,” and to your amazement, a little circular device in the corner of the room starts playing the twangy hit.

In your absence, voice technology devices have become a regular fixture in many consumer homes across the globe. In fact, by 2022, it’s predicted that there will be eight million active voice tech devices in existence.

From playing music to shopping, controlling devices in the home, and beyond, the intuitive nature of voice tech has proved incredibly popular in recent years, presenting a host of fresh opportunities for digital marketers looking to connect with a wider target audience.

Voice technology is on the rise — and in 2022, it’s certainly a channel worth exploring in more depth. Particularly given the fact that by the end of 2020, 30% of all searches will be conducted without a screen.

“What is now proved was once only imagined”William Blake

Into the Unknown

It’s been a mind-blowing day (it turns out that you’d volunteered to be frozen for a decade as part of a social/medical experiment, and now you’re a millionaire, hurrah!) and it’s clear that digital marketing has evolved rapidly in the short space of 10 years. You can’t fully get your head around everything that has changed, but as the song from that old movie says, “Let it Go”.

It’s impossible to predict exactly what will happen in the next decade, but by keeping your finger on the pulse, you’ll be able to evolve with the times, riding the crest of the ever-rewarding technological wave time and time again. Here’s to 2022… and finding yourself 10 years younger!