As a university student undertaking a double major in both digital media and marketing, I always try to combine the two disciplines whenever I am tasked with deciding on a project topic. I do this for multiple reasons, the first being that I never want to complete a project on something I’m not passionate about. A project will never reach its full potential that way, due to a lack of interest and dedication. The second reason is that I always want to leverage the work I complete at university to assist with my career trajectory, as I get to discover the things I like and dislike, while also creating something that I can use in my portfolio.
This method of ideation has led me to maintain a digital/marketing focus on all projects completed at university thus far. For example, in BCM206 I used my expertise with marketing, digital media and technology to offer a project consultation service to other students completing BCM projects. An example of this service offering can be found on my blog here:
Project prototyping by focusing on my interests and skills has also assisted me in coming up with research project topics. In BCM241, I conducted a research assessment on how ethnography is used for marketing and communications efforts. I was able to collate a number of case studies to further understand the practice and effective use of marketing ethnography. This was showcased on a personal website for the project that I created, further demonstrating my experience using various technologies.
As shown, my interests lie deep within digital communications and marketing, and this forms the basis for my ideation process. Regarding emerging issues in media and communication, my interest homed in on the upcoming ‘The Robot’ topic in BCM312. My first thought process was to consider how ‘The Robot’ would relate to digital media and marketing, and my mind immediately went to marketing automation as I am currently employed as a Digital Media Assistant in a local marketing automation agency. Marketing automation refers to the utilisation of software solutions that can completely reduce or eliminate repetitive marketing tasks such as nurturing leads or populating a customer database (Hubspot 2019). However, marketing automation isn’t just a fancy name for email marketing, or a simple “sit back and watch the results roll in” type of practice; it requires a comprehensive strategy to be effective (Marketo 2019).
While I was originally led to believe that marketing automation was going to be my sole focus for this research project, my approach shifted to a wider focus after engaging in discussion about the topic:
The existence of the marketing agency I work for relies heavily on the fact that we offer marketing automation/business process automation to clients. So it definitely enhances the workforce for me #bcm325
— Alex Mastronardi (@alexm4stro) March 6, 2019
This dialogue occurred on the BCM325 – Future Cultures hashtag on twitter, as the subject is built around the “representation of the future and the lived realities of the past and present” (Moore 2019). Also featured on the BCM325 hashtag was an infographic detailing the developments of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) over time:
— Christopher Moore (@CL_Moore) March 9, 2019
Hoping to do my #bcm312 research project on something to do with tech, things like automation, AI etc. This is really going to come in handy.
— Alex Mastronardi (@alexm4stro) March 10, 2019
This is why my approach to the topic shifted to a broader focus. I wanted to uncover how marketing and communications is impacted by many different technologies, such as AI, robotics and data mining – not just automation. In my preliminary research for this new approach, I realised that there is scope for an interesting project in the fields of both technology and the future of work. For example, Siau and Yang (2017, p. 1) state that sales and marketing will be significantly impacted by advanced technologies in the near future, including AI, robotics, automation and machine learning. Marketing professionals will soon have to complement robots and best them with skills in creativity and innovation in order to stay competitive (Siau and Yang 2017, p. 1).
After conducting this preliminary research, I formulated my research question: “To what extent is innovative technology being used in marketing and communications?”. However, after analysing best practices into writing a great research question, I realised I needed to work this into a do-able research question and make every term concrete (Evans 2019). Understanding these best practices spawned the research question I will be working with going forward:
“To what extent are innovative technologies, such as AI, robotics and automation being used in marketing and communications; and what are the most prevalent user concerns impacting the utilisation of these technologies?”
I believe this new question has a greater social significance than the previous iteration, as it not only explores the use of new technology in marketing, it also aims to uncover the concerns associated with the use of this technology, such as legal, ethical and business concerns. There is great potential to research the concerns arising from new technology in marketing and communications, as it has become a highly discussed topic in recent years.
Petrescu and Krishen (2018, pp. 41-43) use the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal as an example of concerns about innovative technology; in this case, privacy concerns. They explain that building trust through sound business practices is essential and that “proper and transparent privacy policies lead to higher consumer fairness perceptions” (Petrescu and Krishen 2018, pp. 41-43). Analysing existing research such as this journal article will continue to inform my research project throughout its development.
Evans, N 2019, ‘How to Write a Great Research Question’, PowerPoint Slides, BCM312, University of Wollongong, viewed 15 March.
Hubspot 2019, What Is Marketing Automation?, viewed 17 March, <https://www.hubspot.com/marketing-automation-information>.
Marketo 2019, What Is Marketing Automation?, viewed 17 March, <https://au.marketo.com/marketing-automation/>.
Moore, C 2019, ‘Future Cultures’, Moodle Page, BCM325, University of Wollongong, viewed 17 March.
Petrescu, M & Krishen, S 2018, ‘Analyzing the analytics: data privacy concerns”, Journal of Marketing Analytics, vol. 6, no. 2, pp. 41-43.
Siau, K & Yang, Y 2017, ‘Impact of Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Machine Learning on Sales and Marketing’, Association for Information Systems, vol. 48, p. 1.
Header Image Source: Carlos Muza