MarTech vs AdTech or MarTech & AdTech?
By Dominic Benton, Data and Platform Strategy Lead, APAC, GroupM
The digital media industry has come a long way from the first banner ad in 1994, when advertisers hoped someone who saw their ads would be interested in their products. Programmatic media buying now allows addressable messaging to the right consumer at the right time. The foundation of this entire concept is identity, and the industry has evolved into a place where exabytes of data are created, processed, analysed and acted upon every day to enable this. We’ve gone from a position of limited targeting to targeting based on demographic proxies to complex machine learning and statistical algorithmic-based audience profiling that allows addressable targeting.
Previously, it was sufficient to say: “We’re able to track X number of users”. However, in a time where all digitally based companies on some level have an idea of the consumer from their own ID, the focus has shifted from quantity of IDs to data density and the realisation of deeper, more detailed audience profiling.
The focus has shifted from quantity of IDs to data density and the realisation of deeper, more detailed audience profiling
This is highlighted by acquisitions such as Facebook’s purchase of Instagram and WhatsApp, where Facebook are not adding numbers of users to their repertoire, but adding depth of knowledge of individuals, giving them a more detailed view of each consumer they track. But with this more data-centric approach comes new challenges. How can data be activated in a way that respects users’ privacy and doesn’t create a perception of the brand as invasive and ‘creepy’? This is a huge challenge for all advertisers where the balance between scale, relevancy and subtlety is difficult to achieve.
The race for data superiority can, in some part, be attributed to the merging of different technologies to form a master data set that has a more holistic view of the consumer. Some of the largest technology companies in the world are spreading their footprint into new areas to solidify their offering as a single stack solution to marketers. Adobe, who started out with Flash Player and Acrobat Reader, are now one of the industry leaders in MarTech, from web analytics software to an enterprise-level data management platform. AT&T, a telco, has acquired both Time Warner and AppNexus in the past 12 months, a move that shows that data becomes all the more valuable with a relevant technology infrastructure. For a lot of companies, it is not possible to go out and acquire the technology to build new divisions or offerings into their business model. For these businesses, it is all about how to use the data they possess to drive better business results. In this instance, an effective MarTech and AdTech strategy is key.
The motivation behind using data and technology platforms is to drive improved and incremental business results as efficiently as possible. Therefore, the most important decision a marketer must make is selecting a mix of MarTech and AdTech providers that fits the budget and achieves the maximum possible outcome. Alternatively, for advertisers seeking more transparency, deciding between a single stack vs. integrated solution might be the priority. MarTech and AdTech platforms can offer huge benefits but only if there is a cohesive approach operated by those with the relevant expertise. With so many considerations and a confusing and disjointed marketplace, marketers are, more than ever, relying on support from their agencies for this knowledge. Therefore the agency model has had to adapt to offer more of a consultative approach to marketers keen to benefit from the data available to them.
Data without the technology to action its use is meaningless and can be distracting. So, deciding on which area of technology to focus on is a primary task for any marketer. It’s clear that to maximise data potential a digital marketing strategy cannot solely rely on one type of technology: MarTech or AdTech. As the enabler of a digital strategy, AdTech is clearly an important part of a marketer’s technology arsenal, but without the context that MarTech brings, the effectiveness of campaigns would suffer. Therefore, how these two coexist in the digital framework is the key to success.