People-based marketing is all about creating an integrated marketing system that can center on individual customers and update itself with any data that they provide. This enables brands to be much more strategic when it comes to how they target and communicate with their customers, and it also enables them to provide much more relevant messaging and content.

The concept is hardly a new one, but marketers have historically struggled to get it right. The good news is that when they’re able to build up a strong profile of their customers, they can be proactive instead of reactive, using predictive analytics and other technologies to figure out what people are most likely to respond to.

And as technology becomes more and more powerful, more and more companies are springing up to take advantage of it. At the same time, the laws of supply and demand ensure that if marketers want the technology, an entrepreneur somewhere is going to supply it.

Here are nine people-based marketing companies to watch in 2018:

#1 BounceX

BounceX offers a people-based marketing cloud and is the first new revenue channel with scale in ten years. Their proprietary identification technology means marketers can now activate users and convert unidentified, high-intent prospects into buyers by sending the right message at the right time on any device.

#2 LiveRamp

LiveRamp is one to watch because they recently sank $140 million into people-based marketing by acquiring Arbor, a people-based data marketplace, and Circulate, which aims to help app developers to monetize user data. LiveRamp describes itself as “an identity resolution provider offering data onboarding” and claims to tie “all of your marketing back to real people”.

#3 AppNexus

This company is one of the industry-leading bidding solutions that aims to help publishers to make more sense of digital advertising. As part of this, the company has partnered with LiveRamp and several others to create a people-based framework for advertisers who want to use programmatic ads outside of the walled gardens of Facebook and Google.

#4 Rocket Fuel

Rocket Fuel puts the predictive in predictive marketing, using a mixture of artificial intelligence and real-time data to anticipate what people need before they even know it. This is good news for marketers, because it makes it easier than ever for them to create content that’s specifically designed to resonate with their target audience.

#5 Targeto

Targeto makes it easy for you to manage marketing across a whole suite of different platforms – including Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and Twitter Ads – within a centralized interface. They say they help to “establish one-to-one, cross-channel interactions between marketers and consumers”, leading to increased customer loyalty, a better customer experience and improved revenues across the board. It’s win/win for everyone.

#6 LiveIntent

This company realizes that brands need to be present wherever their customers are, and the solutions that they offer are designed to foster genuine relationships between the two of them. They say that their people-based marketing software helps you to “never treat [your] best customers like strangers and always treat strangers like [your] best customers.”

#7 MediaMath

Technically speaking, this one is more of a programmatic advertising company than a people-based marketing startup. What’s interesting about MediaMath, though, is that as well as being one of the leaders in the programmatic field, they’re also putting a heavy focus on interlinked data and omnichannel marketing. So while they might not technically be a people-based marketing company, they’re certainly heading in that direction.

#8 Adelphic

This real-time mobile DSP provider was recently acquired by Time Inc., and the massive media company is said to be building its own “people-based DSP”. With Adelphic’s expertise and Time’s budget, this looks set to be a partnership which will get the competition sitting up and paying attention, and it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with in 2018 and beyond.

#9 Index Exchange

Index Exchange is interesting because it’s specifically built with neutrality in mind. They describe themselves as “built on the pillars of neutrality, openness, and the most reliable technology”, and the exchange that they offer is designed so that digital publishers and suppliers can sell ad impressions programmatically and in real-time. In a world where marketing is dominated by behemoths like Google and Facebook, it’s reassuring to know that you can still take the indie route without sacrificing your commitment to people-based marketing and personalization.

What’s next?

As more and more marketers wise up to the value that people-based marketing has to offer, it’s likely that more and more providers will rise to meet the demand. But it’s those that are already active and innovating who are likely to lead the way, and those who are late to the party may struggle to gain traction.

Still, if the current level of innovation is anything to go by then we’re set to see further disruption in the coming years as the industry finds its feet. And what’s interesting about people-based marketing is that while the technology is vital for it to work, it’s the mindset itself which has the most potential for growth and evolution.

In the future, then, it’s likely that people-based marketing will be almost unrecognizable, because the technology will continue to develop and to allow us to harness and use personalized data in new and exciting ways. It’s a great time to be a marketer, and it’s only going to get better.

And there’s one more prediction that we can safely make, because it’s something we’ve been moving towards for several years now. In the future, people-based marketing won’t be called people-based marketing because that would be redundant.

In the future, we’ll just call it ‘marketing’.