Collision of Martech & Ad Tech

On Tuesday, October 20, 2015, hundreds of European marketing professionals attended MarTech Europe, a conference that delivers inspiration from industry pioneers as well as firsthand accounts of the implementation, managerial and cultural challenges they overcame whilst accomplishing digital transformation.

Rebecca Muir, ExchangeWire’s head of research and analysis moderated a panel discussion about the collision of martech and ad tech. The panel members were:

– Zuzanna Gierlinska, director data management platforms, Oracle

– Caspar Schlickum, CEO, Xaxis EMEA

– Andy Mihalop, group head UK, Atlas

– Rakesh Patel, commercial director of digital, AutoTrader

In this piece, Muir summarises the panel discussion.

Until now, the ad tech (solutions that facilitate the buying and selling of online ad impressions) and martech (companies that provide services, including email automation and CRM) sectors, although undeniably linked, have both experienced growth separately in their respective, traditional silos.

“The money is moving to the CMO’s office”

 – Zuzanna Gierlinska, director data management platforms, Oracle

The rapid pace of development of ad tech solutions (that typically cost the advertiser a set percentage of their ad spend), and the increase in popularity of data science, contributed towards Gartner Analyst Laura McLellan’s 2012 prediction that by 2017 CMOs will spend more on IT than CIOs.

Today, we’re seeing the martech and ad tech sectors collide through acquisitions and partnerships (Oracle bought BlueKai, Viant introduced a partnership with SalesForce).

These partnerships mean that a brand can integrate CRM data into ad tech solutions and use that first-party data to strategically inform ad-buying decisions, such as targeting lookalike audiences based on best performing customers.

Who can blame traditional martech companies for wanting a slice of the lucrative ad tech market when the data they contain can be used to make advertising spend more efficient?

“Putting the customer at the centre of marketing practice”

 – Rakesh Patel, commercial director of digital, AutoTrader

Brands need to be considerate of their users when making technology decisions.

Ownership of the relationship with the user is key and should not be overlooked.

Consumers expect seamless interactions with brands across multiple connected devices and offline experiences. Technology can facilitate seamless journeys, but customer experience must not be traded with speed of implementation.

“Ad tech can be very loud and shouty, we need to go back to strategy and marketing objectives”

 – Caspar Schlickum, CEO, Xaxis EMEA

Technology is the tool that helps fulfil the marketing objectives – technology is not the objective.

With over 2,000 companies operating in this space, there is a lot of cajoling and raising of literal and metaphorical voices in order to stand out among the crowd.

The problem with that is that it’s not necessarily those who shout the loudest who have the best solutions.

No one has all the data. Therefore, data must be connected and the way in which that is done is dictated by marketing and data strategy. Brands need to decide on their marketing strategy and only partner with vendors who understand that strategy and offer solutions to compliment it – stay away from those who ask you to change your strategy in order to implement their solution.

“Creativity is what engages the user”

 – Andy Mihalop, group head UK, Atlas

Targeting and auction-based ad buying are great, both have vastly improved the efficiency of media trading.

However, consumers do not engage with targeting options, nor do they engage with auctions. Consumers engage with creativity.

Brands must not lose sight of this and continually strive to deliver ads to users that are engaging: Be that through use of new ad formats, like native video, or creativity within traditional ad formats. If a user can’t engage with an ad, no amount of targeting or real-time bidding will result in clicks, brand recall, or sales.

In conclusion, as advertising and marketing functions come closer together, as the lines continue to blur, the challenges faced by marketing and advertising practitioners will become more and more similar until they are inherently the same. Marketers and advertisers need to ensure that as this happens they keep the consumer at the center of their marketing strategy and do not get distracted by loud promises and maintain maximum creativity.