Few topics get more air time in marketing circles than adtech and martech convergence. The commentary spans a spectrum ranging from attempts to agree upon the deceptively simple semantics of adtech and martech (which usually ends when everyone throws up their hands and concedes that it is simply madtech) to existential examinations of the future of marketing itself.
Some reactions to looming convergence approach satire, sometimes even intentionally. Like the war room bound leaders in Dr. Strangelove, we wonder: Are we heading for mutually assured destruction? Is somebody harboring a doomsday device? Have our deterrents been rendered useless? Which side will strike first? Who’s really in charge?
Yet these questions are surprisingly apt in the context of convergence. It should surprise no-one that adtech and martech convergence evokes strong feelings. Modern marketing is a technology-driven discipline, and any widespread change will reverberate throughout the ecosystem. Convergence impacts the future of thousands of vendors (and their investors). It affects day-to-day marketing operations for tens of thousands of brands (and their agencies). The excitement, mystery, and controversy surrounding convergence speaks volumes about the marketing industry’s collective aspirations and fears.
First, this is my inaugural post since rejoining Forrester Research in May. I’m a boomerang in Forrester parlance — a former employee returning to the company — and it’s been wonderful to immerse myself in the marketing world and reconnect with so many clients, vendors, and colleagues. In the time since my first tour at Forrester, I’ve held several executive roles, spanning global marketing technology, adtech, and SaaS technology. One of the interesting aspects of being a boomerang is bringing my range of experiences back to Forrester, which I believe will make me a better analyst and resource for clients. I am partnering with my colleague Rusty Warner to cover enterprise marketing technology. It’s a big topic! By teaming up, Rusty and I are in a great position to maintain the Enterprise Marketing Technology playbook, extend coverage of marketing technology into new and expanded topics, and work closely with Forrester clients on a global basis. In particular, I’ll be focusing on the future state of marketing and advertising technologies.
Three of the four leading vendors – Adobe, Salesforce, and Oracle – base their CCCM solutions on email service provider acquisitions. All have expanded their cross-channel coverage, and their customer data management and analytics functionality continues to evolve. Conversely, SAS is the only leader among traditional CCCM vendors, because of its customer data management and analytics prowess, as well as evolving digital marketing capabilities.
IBM is a strong performer because of its enterprise CCCM and digital marketing capabilities, but it has yet to fully integrate its acquired assets. Similarly, Selligent is currently integrating its CCCM and digital marketing capabilities for the mid-market. Pitney Bowes and Pegasystems offer solid analytics and RTIM capabilities, though they lag the leaders when it comes to outbound digital marketing. SmartFocus, Emarsys, and Experian are challenging established CCCM and digital marketing vendors with their interaction-focused solutions. RedPoint Global offers customer data management and marketing automation to support CCCM execution.
What is context? According to Merriam-Webster, context is “the situation in which something happens or the group of conditions that exist where and when something happens.” We’ve been using it since late Middle English speakers adapted the Latin contextus, from con (together) and texere (to weave). For marketers, context means understanding attitudes, behaviors, and preferences to address the requirements of individual customers in their moments of need.
It is critical for marketers to embrace customer context. Why? Winning in the age of the customer depends on the interactions that people have with your brand, and compelling customer experiences materialize only when your firm understands its customers and anticipates their needs. The context of all those interactions determines whether customers will engage and, more importantly, transact with your brand again. Marketing’s job is to harness the power of customer context to create a repeatable cycle of interactions, drive deeper engagement, and learn more about the customer in the process.
I’ll be brief, because I know you’re busy. If you’re a customer-obsessed marketer, you should plan to attend Forrester’s annual Forum designed just for you – MARKETING 2016. Join us and 600+ marketing leaders in New York City on April 26-27 as we dive deep into the issues that matter most to you. Our agenda this year is comprised of five sections:
1. Thriving In The Post-Digital Age: Led by our own VP/Principal Analyst Shar VanBoskirk, hear our latest research on what it takes to succeed as a marketing leader in a world where digital embeds in everything.
2. Customer Understanding: Sick of all the noise about big data? Join VP and Research Director Srividya Sridharan as she uncovers how to move from data, to insights, to business action.
3. Contextual Engagement: Principal Analyst Rusty Warner will be joined onstage by eBay and J&J as they discuss best practices in using situational context to drive deeper customer engagement.
4. The Leadership Question: Forrester’s Michelle Moorehead will moderate a superstar panel on the changing leadership role for CMOs.
5. The Power Of Trust: Principal Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo will discuss how your ability to manage consumer privacy will be a key differentiator in building trust.
A CMO and a CIO walk into a hotel bar (Let’s call them Tom and Dick). After ordering a drink, Tom says, “Dick, I really need to start working with a DMP this year, and I want your help selecting one.” Dick says, “A DMP? My enterprise architecture team is building a near real-time, self-service data management platform. We’ll be done by the end of the year. You’re going to love it in 2017!” With an absent look on his face, Tom says “A DMP is a piece of AdTech that we can use to quickly target tailored audiences with our ad campaigns. It’s not a back-office data warehouse”. Dick laughs and says, “Ad campaigns? Didn’t you just buy a campaign management tool from one of those so-called marketing cloud vendors? You know, our CRM system has a campaign module, not to mention an enormous customer database.” Tom’s response: “You’re not getting it. Cross-Channel Campaign Management is a MarTech tool, not CRM. And a DMP is not a customer database.” Exasperated, Dick shouts, “What the hell is the difference between MarTech and AdTech anyway!”
We all know the opening part of Pope’s often-quoted adage. Certainly some acquisitions in the enterprise marketing technology arena are now looking like foolish decisions. In yesterday’s 2015 trading update, SDL announced it will sell multiple products that are “non-core to its future strategy,” including social intelligence, campaign management, and its Fredhopper eCommerce recommendation engine. SDL paid $110 million for the first two solutions when it completed its acquisition of Alterian in early 2012. The SDL announcement echoes Teradata’s similar announcement in November to sell its marketing application division. Teradata acquired Aprimo in late 2010 for $525 million, and then added smaller acquisitions of eCircle, Argyle Social, Ozone, Apoxxee, and FLXone – the last pick-up coming less than one month before the sell-off announcement.
By breaking the marketing technology landscape into two basic categories -- systems of insight and systems of engagement -- the report both organizes an increasingly complex technology landscape and gives concrete examples of the types of solutions available to marketers today.
We’ve all seen comprehensive diagrams featuring hundreds of vendor logos across multiple marketing technology categories. So, when tasked with mapping the technologies required to deliver contextual marketing, I decided to simplify things. For more details, see my new report “Combine Systems Of Insight And Engagement For Contextual Marketing.”
Forrester has defined broad “systems of X” categories that include systems of record, design, operation/automation, insight, and engagement. The latter two lend themselves to the enterprise marketing technology landscape.
Real-time analytics and insights drive the contextual marketing engine (below), and these tools fit squarely into the systems of insight category. Customer data bases and big data repositories fuel the engine, and as customer behavior refreshes them frequently, they, too, are systems of insight (as opposed to more static systems of record).
To successfully grow in Asia Pacific (AP), you must excel at understanding customers’ needs, wants, and behaviors and have the capabilities necessary to transform this insight into improved customer engagement. But that’s true everywhere. What sets the AP region apart are the continued vast differences between markets. Appreciating these market differences, and the impact they have on customers’ expectations, is critical when sourcing enterprise marketing capabilities.