Marketing tech and advertising tech, or their more commonly used abbreviations, martech and adtech, have both rised to prominence in recent years. What links these seemingly disparate areas of technology is a common purpose: to convert individuals into customers.
Martech is generally considered to include technologies such as CRM and SEO, and according to some, focus on groups that are already customers, or for which the brand has knowledge about their past behaviour. Adtech, on the other hand, is generally used to describe technologies that focus on the buying and selling of programmatic advertising.
However, advertising giants like Oracle and Adobe are now attempting to end this distinction. Both have launched 'full stack' solutions that integrate adtech and martech with a range of other functions.
"Many of the brands that we work with understand that having an experience-led advertising strategy - one that spans both marketing and advertising - is really key," Adobe senior product marketing manager, EMEA, Toccara Baker said on Tuesday at Advertising Week, London.
She argued that each area has seen an explosion of various different technological solutions that can create a fractured and sometimes confusing landscape. Delineating these two areas of tech has also helped contributed to siloed teams and data, according to Baker.
"From a consumption standpoint, we have massive amounts of fragmentation," she affirms. This problem of fragmentation can apply variously to campaigns, data and technology.
The uptake of new technologies is faster than ever and individuals may interact with a whole array of different screens and devices on any given day. Of course this raises the problem of how advertisers reach consumers across all of these relevant touch points.
Seasoned ad execs may have been coached on the concept of the funnel: the consumer journey that begins with awareness and ends in purchase. This model may have more pertinent when people were interacting with adverts offline. However, today's digital ecosystem has ruptured this linear process, and effectively retired the funnel metaphor. Now, an individual will to and fro between various platforms and devices, and Toccara says that brands must find a way to slide seamlessly into this journey.
But the problem of fragmentation doesn't just affect how consumers interact with brands, the effect ripples up into the organisation of companies themselves.
"Specifically, when we look within the marketing and the advertising functions, we have so many different teams across the board that are using different pieces of technology," explains Toccara. Each of these different teams may be using a vast array of technology solutions, in addition to legacy systems, Excel spreadsheets, and telephones.
Sometimes these teams speak to each other, but often they are siloed: "In many ways, a lot of times are these teams aren't necessarily sharing their data, they don't have the same sort of goals or strategies, and they're really not working together for that overall experience of managing the journey of the customer."
Toccara asserts that this leads to one notable outcome: "Poorly targeted ads that aren't personal and that aren't contextualised to the consumer."
In fact, she goes further, to say that different strategies across advertising and marketing actually just end up cannibalising one another. Complexity clouds an accurate, holistic view of the customer.
"Really, the question becomes, how do these all speak to each other? How can they work together?" says Toccara.
In her opinion, marrying up different strands of the advertising and marketing strategy is essential to achieving what is commonly agreed as the goal of modern marketing: to drive customer experience rather than mere exposure.
To attempt this in practical terms, Toccara advocates beginning by surveying your whole tech stack, and identifying what you are currently doing in each area. "Most people look at this and their eyes kind of glaze over the like: 'Oh my God, I have no idea'," she says.
But once you begin to marry up adtech and martech, that's when you can start to appraise the streamlined consumer journey your brand is presenting.
She says Adobe recently surveyed 13,000 respondents and quizzed them on their business' approach to marketing and customer experience technology. The respondents were split into either 'customer experience leaders' or the diplomatically named 'other'. A common feature of the leaders was that they were taking up the charge of tech stack integration.
Within marketing, they asked what respondents expected to increase in priority over the coming years. Two areas that rose above the rest were better 'use of data leading to improved customer intelligence', and 'integration of marketing tools'.
Three core strands of advice focused on merging teams and technology, merging data, and from there, revamping the whole process. "That's really in transforming how we actually have workflow," says Baker. It relates to process, which sits across everything and focuses on how companies pull insights, and it also concerns segmentation and optimisation.
Baker says research indicates that 50 percent of marketers believe they have insufficient technology to derive value. However, this stat doesn't convince her. "I kind of call bullshit on this sometimes," she says. "Because it really kind of depends on that exercise of going back to your tech stack. And really looking at what about what products you have."
Delivering better marketing and advertising might entail unifying disparate teams.
Baker focuses on connecting the analytics team - which is very focused on performance data such as click-through rate - with the advertising and marketing teams, which are most likely working with view-through data or impression data.
Baker points out that this is already two factions of the company that have imposed different goalposts on their work, using different technologies and not necessarily communicating. However, joining this data together is the beginning of forming a more holistic view of your customer.
According to Baker, placing experience at the core of an organisation's advertising strategy can lead to improved metrics in areas like brand awareness, return on ad spend and overall customer satisfaction rates.
In pursuit of this aim, the segmentation and optimisation strategies should be led by first party data. At the moment, 85 percent of brands say their segmentation and optimisation strategy is based upon broad and simple clustering, meaning that they are not sufficiently leveraging their first-party data.
In terms of performance, looking at the average conversion for display advertising, it's very low.
"When I used to work at an agency, when we saw a conversion rate was high, we knew there was a problem," says Baker. Across the board, the average conversion of viewers into buyers hovers around a risible 0.1 percent.
Baker says this is because when crafting their segmentation and optimisation strategy, brands tend to focus on the 'pointy end' of the funnel, namely those that have already been converted into customers.
Therefore, their strategy consists of examining converters, creating lookalikes, and optimising against those profiles. However, there are a lot more data sources that can be used to inform this strategy. For example, analytics data or site data. This is because examining the non-converters can be extremely useful too.
"When we look in this audience of non-converters, there are a lot of different actions that they're taking, that can help us actually get more targeted and understand the value of the various audiences within that bucket," says Baker. "Whether that's time spent on site, the number of pages that they viewed, or just kind of hovering over a button.
"In many ways, you can take all these various pockets of data and build out high value audiences against these strategies."
All of this information can be folded into a bespoke algorithm that powers how your company's media is optimised.
Overall, Baker's insights on advertising can be neatly summarised: "It shouldn't sit in silos. It should not sit across various teams. It really shouldn't have politics, and it should leverage best-in-class strategies and transform how you feed data into various systems to understand and manage the journey of the customer."