Recently Forrester put out an article called The End of Advertising, The Beginning of Relationships. In it, James McQuivey predicts a massive shift in the status quo: the lack of transparency behind digital display advertising performance will lead major advertisers to drastically pull spending.

If you’ve been in marketing for any length of time, you know that experts have been sounding the death knell of advertising for over a decade. But McQuivey’s key argument—that ‘consumer indifference to advertiser interests’ is already providing evidence that ‘interruption only works if consumers spend time doing interruptible things on interruption-friendly devices’—is an important one to note. The fact that he goes on to rally us all to develop futuristic AI-enabled marketing programs that are very far out of reach for the average brand and its agency partner is a titch beyond the point.

His real big idea isn’t all that big. And it’s not that new, either. It’s actually as old as the profession of marketing itself. What we as marketers really, really need to concentrate on—what we have always needed to concentrate on—is building a relationship with our customers and prospects.

It’s the ‘consumer indifference to advertiser interests’ that we need to overcome. Always has been. Always will be.

What has changed are our delivery and engagement mechanisms, hence McQuivey’s call for robo reps and chat bots as the next wave in marketing nerdery. That shift toward using technology to foster greater engagement between brand and customer—and have the ability to measure and analyze the progression of the relationship—is one of the primary reasons we at Goose Digital have invested our time, effort and training into becoming marketing automation experts. We use marketing automation platforms to help our clients build deeper relationships, create more satisfying conversations and convey brand personality—all the things McQuivey says marketers should be working toward now and in the future.

In fact, research says increasing sales revenue (53%), lead nurturing (43%) and customer engagement (37%) are the most important objectives of a marketing automation strategy. That puts relationship-building strategies (nurturing and engagement) at a whopping 80%.

Think about it. We use compelling, valuable content to entice a prospect to join our conversation by supplying an email address, thus granting us permission to talk a little more. Every time we share more content with that prospect, we learn a little more about them, and they learn a little more about us.

We’re able to gear the content we deliver specifically toward their precise interests and current needs, thus making the conversation more satisfying.

They are getting to know our brand personality. They are receiving value from the information we provide. They are starting to trust the idea that we won’t waste their time. If we have done our job correctly, when they are ready to buy, they will buy from us.

So, while true marketing AI may still be years down the road, we do have technologies today that allow us to do the most important thing: build a strong relationship with our customers.