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What the heck is MarTech?


There’s only one thing adland loves more than an industry buzzword and that’s a portmanteau: a fancy term for blending together the parts of two or more words. Just as we’ve all got our heads around one of these frankenwords – ad tech – along comes another. Hello MarTech. Ahead of this year’s Marketing Tech Symposium, we’ve got the definitive definition of MarTech along with the lowdown on why you need to be across this latest industry term.


MarTech versus ad tech

MarTech, according to GroupM’s director of technical operations Timothy Whitfield, is the domain of a chief marketing officer while ad tech, that’s the concern of a chief digital officer. He says: “A good way of thinking of the difference is marketing technology would be used by a CMO while ad tech would be used by a CDO. For instance, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution like SalesForce would be a classic example of MarTech.”

Other tools that fall under the MarTech umbrella include call management platforms, automated email marketing and website content management systems while over on the ad tech side you’re looking more at ad servers, programmatic functions and viewability vendors. 

Whitfield says: “There is natural overlap between MarTech and ad tech and a Data Management Platform (DMP) is a classic example of where these two technologies overlap. A DMP plays a role in MarTech, particularly moving data such as Personally identifiable information (PII) from a CRM system into the biddable world but it also plays its part in ad tech enabling pre-bidding on data segments as defined by the CRM system.”

In summary, Whitfield says the ad tech and MarTech models are different but we should think about them in terms of who is at the helm of each piece of technology.

So who needs to know about MarTech?

A recent study of around 500 chief marketing officers (CMOs) and senior marketing executives from around the world conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) on behalf of Marketo found that 86% of marketers say they will own the end-to-end customer experience by 2020. To accomplish this, the report found that marketing leaders must have a single view of the customer that allows them to engage in two-way personalised conversations across technologies, locations, and physical objects.

Greg Taylor, managing director of Marketo, says this means multiple departments within the organisation need to be across MarTech. He says: “Today, every role within a business needs to have some tie to customer relationships making the MarTech stack more relevant to marketing, technology, HR, finance, and management teams than ever before. This makes MarTech relevant to everyone across the senior management team, from Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and CDOs to marketing managers and CEOs.”

Taylor says MarTech can help executives in all of these roles to reach the key performance indicators (KPIs) of their department and the business more broadly. He adds: “While CMOs can leverage MarTech to forge stronger and more personalised customer relationships and translate these relationships into revenue, HR can use marketing automation systems to deploy employee communications ensuring an ongoing conversation with staff that aids in their retention. Finance teams should be aware of how the right marketing technology can save the company time and money.”

In short, lots of people within your organisation need to be across MarTech but as the name suggests, marketers have the most responsibility to get it.  

Marketo’s Taylor concludes: “As marketing continues to take on a bigger role within the management team itself, CMOs will work more closely with CIOs to make technology decisions that are best for the business.”

Right. I’m a marketer. What can MarTech do for me?

According to Marketo’s Taylor, marketers have traditionally relied on ad tech solutions to collect data, help shape marketing campaigns and optimise mass media. However, due to the increase of low-quality intrusive and irrelevant ads, as well as the rise of ad blocking with more than a million Australians now using Adblock Plus alone, further technology is needed. Taylor says MarTech provides a solution to both of these problems. He says: “Poor quality communications can be reduced with effective use of data-driven marketing technologies, which can develop more personalised content and ways of communicating with target audiences.”

In short, marketers should care about MarTech because it can help them with some of the challenges they face on a daily basis.

However, MarTech has its own challenges to grapple with. GroupM’s Whitfield says those experimenting with MarTech need to be aware of clearly defining business objectives and connecting them to shareholder value. Whitfield says: “MarTech should be the central point of truth for these business objectives with clear dashboarding and ad tech campaigns should connect seamlessly into the MarTech reporting structure.”

What’s next for MarTech?

In terms of what’s next for the world of MarTech, some see it merging with ad tech. This will be driven by consolidation in the space, a trend that’s previously been predicted for programmatic.

Marketo’s Taylor says: “The biggest opportunity is integration, though this is also the biggest challenge. Consumers are demanding and expecting more personalised experiences from brands, and MarTech can enable this for marketers and businesses when various information sources are integrated in a strategic way. Unfortunately, many businesses are still looking at technologies like CRM and email marketing in silos, or worse, as the same thing. These are actually very different technologies designed to deliver different kinds of value, which can increase exponentially when integrated together.”

Another challenge for MarTech, which stems from integration, is privacy concerns. Consumers are becoming more aware and concerned of how data shared with one brand can lead to that data being shared with multiple brands they can’t control. Taylor says MarTech players need to recognise the role they play in maintaining customers’ privacy and trust. But there is opportunity in this challenge. Taylor says: “What’s surprising is a recent study by Acxiom showed many consumers are okay with sharing more data with brands, so long as the data is accurate. Correct data leveraged through MarTech and ad tech will lead to more relevant ads, alleviating headaches for consumers and allowing marketers to do their jobs more effectively.”

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Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media About Mark Abay - Content Director, Ashton Media
Mark is Content Director at Ashton Media. It's his job to create interesting and engaging conference programs that stretch the thinking of our attendees. Mark works closely with our industry advisors to ensure the conference content is aligned with the needs and interests of our audiences.