Marketing 'Word Of The Year,' This Time It's Personal

"Personalization" is 2019's word-of-the-year, according to results of an annual survey of the members of the Association of National Advertisers.

The selection signals a shift in marketing's Holy Grail from a brand-centric to a consumer-centric orientation, supplanting 2018's winning term "brand purpose."

Past year's winners have largely focused on technological implications such as "artificial intelligence" (2017) and "programmatic" (2014), though "transparency" was the consensus in 2016, a year in which the ANA exposed some questionable industry practices on that topic.

The ANA did not disclose explicit runners-up for 2019, but it said "other top choices" included “equality and inclusion,” “data,” and “in-house.”

While far from a new term, personalization appears to have reached peak buzzworthiness in 2019 for a variety of reasons, according to verbatim responses from anonymized ANA members:

  • "Personalization is what customers expect. Every current and prospective customer expects that your brand knows them and can deliver what they want."
  • "Consumers are busy. Too busy to invest time with anything that’s not relevant to them personally. It’s all about relevancy, aka personalization. 'Make it all about me.'"
  • "We now have the tools to pay off this benefit. Technology is enabling marketers to personalize consumer experiences and communication."
  • "In today’s world of 'me,' personalization is how people want to consume information. Experiences need to be relevant and unique to the end user at nearly every interaction."
  • "We’re all striving to show value to customers in a way that’s relevant to them. Technology is changing the way marketers are able to do so, and we’re all united by our efforts to showcase personalization."
  • "As marketers, we can no longer think about customers as just a single large group. If we assume all customers are the same, then we are not meeting their needs."
  • "Personalization is the Holy Grail of brand marketing. It provides the ability to speak directly to the consumer or shopper with the right message, at the right time, in the right medium."




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