As marketers, you have dabbled with both and are aware you need both equally at different execution points of your marketing strategies. Adtech and martech have always been an inevitable requirement in every marketer’s bid to convert a prospect to customer.
Even as the adtech-martech convergence debate continues, with industry experts divided on whether the two are really two sides of the same coin or can only operate in distinct spheres in any organization, MarTech Advisor thrashes out why the two being distinct need to come together.
MarTech: Redefining Customer Interactions
The advent of digital marketing has marked a significant shift in the organizational role of marketing. Consumers suddenly, got a lot closer to the marketer, effectively redefining marketing priorities of brands the world over. Digital ushered in limitless possibilities for marketers, and at the same time offered consumers a wide array of options to connect with the brand – be it on social, contact centers or through chats and emails.
Digital transformation furthered the scope of engagement with customers, providing marketers with an incredible opportunity to reach their customers through digital channels. And, martech has helped facilitate interactions with customers across multiple channels at every stage of their customer journey with ease, and includes all applications, platforms, and tools that enable marketers to engage with their customers in the digital realm.
Martech operates by consolidating different sources of consumer information and converts it into actionable insights that fuel relevant and personalized communication – be it messaging, customized emails on offers and more. These interactions have been used by marketers to find opportunities for new selling, cross-selling, and upselling opportunities that go on to augment revenue and lifetime value.
AdTech: Publishing Made Smarter
While martech was born within the enterprise with the increasing need to automate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for Sales, and later automation for marketing, adtech came about with digital publishing, with its origins being traced back to the Internet itself. One of the first ads displayed was a banner ad as early as 1993. Adtech evolved with consumer-facing websites looking for a viable monetization model. From media planners negotiating direct deals with networks and publishers, to adtech facilitating a more refined form of customer targeting, the digital advertising industry has grown in leaps and bounds over the past two decades.
Unlike martech, adtech doesn’t require complex integrations for businesses, which make it easier to adopt. However, where martech has been successful in providing transparent and accurate tracking, adtech relies on last-touch attribution to determine conversions. Moreover, adtech metrics such as clicks, impressions, and conversions are common for all marketers, and there is little scope for brands to align these metrics to their business objectives and key performance indicators.
MarTech and AdTech: Two Sides of the Marketing Coin?
Martech and adtech are often thought to be operating in the same space, but are they really? When asked about the differences or nuances between martech and adtech, Adam Berke, CMO at AdRoll said, “Marketers don’t care about these definitions, and I don’t think anyone has a particular interest in there being silos between “ad tech” and “martech” regardless of how one defines these increasingly blurry categories. Marketers think in terms of solutions to the challenges they face executing digital marketing in an increasingly complex environment. They want to reach specific audiences across channels in an orchestrated way and have the ability to measure the impact. Look at the B2B space and the rise of ABM. Executing an ABM strategy involves focusing on specific accounts across all channels (paid, owned, and earned) and tracking the progress of those accounts through the pipeline. Does that mean ABM solutions are adtech or martech? I’d suggest it really doesn’t matter, it’s about solving a problem for the marketer.”
However, organizationally both martech and adtech have enjoyed distinct identities. Adtech has, for long, been recognized as a brand building tool, primarily transactional in nature driven by impressions, click-through rates, frequency and more. Moreover, interaction with unknown prospects is one of the key points of distinction between adtech and martech.
Marketing is defined by its precision and first-party data sets (known customers) and implies a continuing relationship with a known customer, rather than shots in the dark. Marketers focus on building long-lasting relationships with customers since this is the foundation for long-term success.
AdTech and MarTech: A Marriage of Convenience?
Although APIs have integrated martech and adtech onto common platforms for ease of use in most organizations, the two functions are still not close to seamlessly converging for a cohesive output. However, it’s an undeniable reality that marketers can no longer rely on executing adtech and martech solutions in a siloed manner, while building competitive brand advantages. For marketers to deliver differentiated, personalized marketing experiences, they need to break down these silos.
On why companies need a combined approach, Giovani Strocchi, CEO at ADMantX, says, “Essentially martech covers data ownership, marketing dollar ROI linked to overall marketing processes, and marketing action activation and measurement, while adtech is focused on quality inventory purchases and delivering these transactions at scale to the right customer through the best digital media. These processes exist to provide a service individually, but for a brand to effectively activate data for its marketing strategy, a combined approach is needed. Martech requires a brand to implement attribution models and utilize insights from its owned customer first-party data through DMP management – these insights inform a targeted adtech strategy. Adtech allows a brand to buy inventory at scale via a customer ID (cookie or mobile ID), explore different buying options whether that is direct or through an open exchange, and manage inventory quality such as viewability, brand safety, and fraud issues.”
Optimizing adtech and martech solutions to drive marketing efficacy is integral for the modern marketer, believes Giovani Strocchi. Addressing the key aspects marketers must know about both adtech and martech to derive their full benefit, he says, “To reach its full potential, martech needs to look at how different parts – internal marketing, customer management processes and internal customer information (eCRM and first party data) – can be integrated to derive the maximum advantage. For adtech, however, marketers must look at how different adtech elements can influence effective and qualitative marketing dollar spend. For example, a programmatic environment may offer a brand a wider reach of customers or prospects, or provide stronger brand safety filters.”
Much of the confusion surrounding the martech and adtech convergence debate stems from the fact that advertising is the most visible form of marketing. However, the needs of modern marketing dictate that organizations and marketers need to focus on finding a sustainable path for martech and adtech convergence to realize the true promise of these data-driven technologies.
Adroll’s Adam sums up the debate well, when he asserts, “I don’t think it’s important for marketers to know about the distinction at all, because it has nothing to do with them doing their job well. They should focus on the outcomes they’re trying to drive and the solutions that will help them drive those outcomes. I don’t think marketers wake up in the morning worried about whether a solution fits into either “ad tech” or “mar tech”. They should focus on how the technology provider helps them address a particular problem.”
That said, the end goal for both, marketers and businesses, would have to be a better customer experience using both adtech and martech.