There is an immense amount of consolidation and diversification in the technology marketplace. Neil Nguyen, President and CEO, Sizmek, speaks exclusively to ExchangeWire about what these changes mean for marketers and how their roles are impacted.
Neil Nguyen: As the ad tech industry matures, many of the larger players are looking to expand their digital advertising offering through acquisition, rather than spending time developing technologies that already exist. This will benefit marketers looking to build, target, serve, optimise and measure ads across a multitude of channels, as it should – in theory – invite simplification and standardisation.
There is a risk that consolidation of the marketplace could also lead to marketers having less choice over the tools they use, and prices may consequently be driven up across the industry as consolidation reduces competition between vendors.
Consolidation is, in part, a result of many marketers now seeking an end-to-end management offering, but what is causing this shift in attitudes?
While marketers want the freedom to choose the best solutions to meet their unique requirements, juggling individual vendors can be problematic and complex. Optimising advertising campaigns across all channels is the goal of most marketers, but this can be difficult to achieve with individual vendors using different technologies that don’t effectively communicate with one another.
An end-to-end management offering provides the best of both worlds; empowering marketers to choose the solutions that will help them achieve their business goals and integrating these into one seamless platform. For example, without unified data, how can a marketer get an accurate and holistic picture of a customer’s cross-device journey and which touchpoints are having the biggest impact on conversion? Yet, a neutral, independent ad management provider is often still a more appealing option for marketers than a major media company that can hold intelligence around the customer journey behind a walled garden. Consolidation has to come with a focus on getting the best results for customers.
In an increasingly cluttered ad tech space, it’s increasingly difficult for marketers to know what different providers actually do. Does consolidation make this easier?
There is a great deal of competition in the ad tech space and an overall lack of transparency makes it difficult for marketers to know what each technology company actually offers. There can be significant crossover in the capabilities of different technology products and marketers may end up paying twice for the same functionality when they are selecting, buying, and integrating separate point solutions – which can be a challenge in itself. But while consolidation provides greater clarity into the distinctions between different capabilities, it again raises its own concerns. Marketers who buy a ‘templated’ solution set from one of the larger consolidators are likely paying for functionality they don’t actually need.
Ultimately, marketers should have the freedom to choose a technology that best fits their needs, rather than being pressured into using the solution that’s best for their technology vendor relationships. We need to challenge the notion of ‘approved partners’ and allow marketers the freedom to choose their own preferred suppliers – encouraging collaboration and a unified approach to managing advertising.
As the lines between ad tech and martech continue to blur, managing and activating data is becoming increasingly important for marketers, so how can an end-to-end management offering help?
Marketers are increasingly keen to join the dots between technology and data, and an integrated technology stack that unifies data enables a more holistic view of customer behaviour and drives targeted, relevant interactions. A marketer’s first-party data is a critical part of that set, but working with multiple point solutions puts it at risk, as there is a greater risk of losing control – and a brand’s competitive edge – if numerous companies are accessing the same data.
Likewise, allowing consolidators who own media to manage marketers’ whole ad-tech business, including their data, means the consolidator can potentially control where and how marketers spend. An independent, end-to-end management offering allows marketers to make the best possible use of their data to drive efficient interaction across all channels, without relinquishing control. An integrated solution means marketers can stay in control, as the same data can be used for both remarketing and retargeting, increasing efficiency and reducing the duplication that would be necessary with two individual providers. With the holistic view of the consumer that an integrated management system provides, marketers can view the entire customer journey, ensuring they are delivering the right message, to the right audience, at the right time.