Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

Riley, Emily I read the recent press release from Havas that they selected RFP and campaign management tool Traffiq to be implemented across their major US media buying offices. The timing for this news is pretty cool. I'm planning some major research around these kinds of technologies next month.

Many of you have read from my and Nate Elliott's reports and blog posts that the interactive marketers we recently surveyed don't rate their measurement capabilities very well. In many cases, we recommend some combination of human and technological expertise in order to get better at things like measurement. So often though, marketers are totally overwhelmed by the "stack" of different technologies they need to master in order to be fully functional. I'm planning to survey interactive marketers about the trouble with the stack, and plan to ask about the following:

  • Ad servers - What exactly are interactive marketers using their ad server for? And what things aren't working very well? (like frequency capping, behavioral targeting, billing, etc.)
  • RFP tools - How well are technologies working to make the RFP process easier? How seamless are they at interacting with ad servers?

  • Inventory management systems - Are interactive marketers and publishers leaving valuable inventory on the table by not using an inventory management system? Or is it more trouble than its worth and it makes more sense to simply use ad networks?

  • Billing and reconciliation - How hard is billing at the end of the month? What tools are typically used for billing?

  • Analytics tools - Are interactive marketers responsible for all of their analytics, or do they have another group or third party helping them? What tools do they use and what needs to they still have?

  • Search and Email tools - How well are these integrated into the rest of the media buying and analytics process? Is measurement, targeting and reconciliation across channels even possible today?

  • Rich media tools - If a marketer serves rich media or video, what technologies do they need to add? Do these campaigns then go into a "dark hole" where they are impossible to compare to media served via more traditional ad servers?

I'd love to hear from you about "the stack" - what kinds of issues you think plague interactive marketers, what additional categories I left out, and what solutions are out there that promise a change for the better. 

Many believe that technology is only be half of the problem, and that marketers simply haven't had to be technically adept in the past. Perhaps it is a matter of hiring for more technical and analytical marketing capabilities, or trusting and relying more heavily on agencies. I hope to have those insights for you by the end of this research process, but I can't do it without you, so please send me comments.

Comments

re: Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

As a B2B online marketer I see experience the need for my peers and me to constantly update our skills and for many "traditional" marketers to acquire new skills. However it's going to take some time and turnover in the B2B world.Relying on agencies, or other functions like an IT web-dev team, for B2B marketing metrics that are meaningful and actionable doesn't work in my experience. They are too removed from the start and setup of campaigns as well as being too removed from the internal business stakeholders and clients.The hiring of new marketers with technical and analytical skills will be a slow process within B2B marketing teams. Even when these skills are recognized as being needed they can also be threatening.B2B marketers in general know that a shift in their profession has occurred. They understand that many things should be very measurable.But that realization is only a start. Knowing what to measure and how is journey. Measuring marketing "activities" is tactically hard but beginning to strategically measure marketing impacts meaningful to management is a journey many are just starting.Avinash Kaushik blogs about marketers running "Branding campaigns" which are often setup and run as an excuse not to do measurement. This is indicative of the pressure on marketers to use, understand and work with the Stack of tools.Perhaps your subject be one of the indicators of the shifting roles and skills needed by modern marketers today.

re: Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

How about this one: Why the discrepancies between adserver/cookie data and site analytics data? 1+1 never equals 2.

re: Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

Could not agree more with James L. The issue is NOT the tools and technologies, but the skill set needed. Most folks in marketing (B2B mostly) do not have a clue what they should track and why. They don't have the experience or skills to understand what to look for and why.Also agree that agencies not only do not work, but don't care about the "results" of their work beyond the scope and time-frame of the project. Agencies are "one and done" oriented around campaigns and projects. Before I get hammered by agency folks who want to claim "au contraire", remember that if they are not part of the team and properly directed as to how they have to integrate their campaigns into the overall process of client acquisition strategy, then they can never succeed in proving value and showing meaningful metrics. Most metric exercises tend to be "self-fulfilling prophesies" vs truly explaining what is working and why.

re: Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

You should look at real time bidding on the exchanges, as a technology it has the potential to subsume and incorporate a lot of the other technologies. Feel free to ping me if you want a briefing

re: Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

Very timely and important topic Emily.Legacy system issues remain barriers to scale. Recent exchange developments can help address some issues, but also up the ante on demand-side players to build, buy or license tools that can meet their various marketing objectives in this dynamic, volatile inventory environment. The infrastructure and expertise required to fully take advantage of some of these newer developments is non-trivial, particularly for brand marketers.Looking forward to the research!

re: Has Technology "Stacked" the Decks Against Marketers?

If you want to look at more forward leaning technology and where the industry is moving as opposed to where it's been I would suggest you look at real-time bidding, data management, ad exchanges and dynamic creative technology. Interestingly in many respects these all solve the problems in the areas you've mentioned above. The majority of display dollars are going to performance anyway - these new systems will only expand that delta.