Kimberly Whitler: What will the media planning landscape look like 10 years from now?

Joanna O’Connell: In 10 years, we won’t have terms like “digital marketing” as the boundaries between “digital” and “traditional” continue to blur, and programmatic media buying—that is to say the automation of process and decisions driven by data, powered by machines—will become the more all-encompassing “programmatic marketing,” where every marketing touch point, whether paid, owned or earned, across the customer lifecycle will be powered programmatically in one way or another. Programmatic marketing takes into account everything mentioned in the previous answer, viewing all marketing and its components as one, as a continuum. It is capable of transforming the way brands interact with consumers where marketing itself powers an ongoing conversation and two-way relationship, rather than one-way “push” messaging or one-off tactics that are highly fragmented and lack relevance.

Whitler: What is “automation” and how is it/will it change what marketers do? Any specific examples?

 O’Connell: Some marketers equate programmatic directly, and solely, with automation, but that’s only part of the story. Automation in its most basic form is the application of technology to manual tasks to streamline and speed up the delivery of products and services. But you still need the human element, most importantly to understand why a business is doing marketing—what is their mission, their passion, their goals—and orchestrate a strategy that maps to that. Even in the realm of machine learning, which underpins the “decisioning” component of programmatic via algorithms, we still need super-smart, strategic data scientists to fulfill its potential.

That said automation plays a key role in powering the convergence of paid and owned media. The interconnectedness of these technologies is necessary to enable better conversations with customers across all of the touch-points they use, and it’s a huge leap forward for the industry and for the discipline of marketing. Just to give a simple example, imagine that upon opening an email from your favorite travel company and clicking on a link for a flight that’s on sale, the next display ad you see features a complementary discounted hotel offer.That interconnected experience is better for the consumer and better for the business’ bottom line.

Whitler: How can C-level leaders quickly get up-to-speed on the changing media environment? Any tips for CMOs?

O’Connell: It’s about a shift to the connectedness of automated systems more than a shift to automation. Programmatic has been helping marketers automate in paid media for the last decade. But there are still many systems that don’t talk to each other, leading to these fragmented consumer experiences I referenced earlier, and to bad marketing in general. That is the next hurdle for marketers to jump. CMOs can get up to speed by thinking about both their marketing tech stack (think the world of the owned) and advertising stack (the world of paid media) and how—and why—to marry the two together, fueled by more holistically managed data. That takes a lot of work, but if you plan on competing in the next decade, the time to start this journey is now.

Read on Forbes.