The advertising and marketing technology sectors are currently experiencing a stage of explosive growth. Indeed, Gartner recently predicted that CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs by 2017.

Until now the ad-tech and mar-tech sectors, although undeniably linked, have both experienced growth separately in their respective, traditional silos. With much debate recently within the vendor industry of a collision of the two, mainly focused on interest around potential M&A activity, what does this actually mean for brands?

From a brand’s point of view, ad-tech companies facilitate the buying and selling of online ad space where marketing technology companies have traditionally provided services including email services and CRM – helping brands to run more effective campaigns to power sales. However, with the valuable data that can now be gleaned from such activities, the services offered by both types of company are beginning to overlap.

When the programmatic marketplace first started taking shape, for marketers ad-tech was generally left for agencies to deal with. Mar-tech was a separate group of tools and for big brands this often means a service licensed from one, or a mix of large SAAS vendors such as Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.

Programmatic is coming in-house

Over the past two years, programmatic advertising has gone from something that client-side marketers could safely ignore and leave to the ‘experts’ to something that is, or will soon become, central to every online brand strategy. Over the next few years programmatic will account for the majority of digital advertising spend in the UK, largely driven by marketers demand?

Marketers are now becoming more active and knowledgeable and more involved in sourcing the right technology solution. The industry evolves constantly; different sources of data are required to feed new thinking and decision making.

While it continues to represent an area of innovation and growth in digital display advertising, programmatic is set to expand across other marketing functions including inbound customer calls, radio and TV, blurring the lines between the ad-tech and mar-tech sectors further.

For brands, the collision of ad-tech and mar-tech in an ideal world is actually a desired outcome. Marketers’ current key goals are to connect better with customers. They need to sell more to existing customers and convert more prospects. They can find new customers and upsell existing customers using ad-tech. The best way to do this is by using the data they already have in their marketing stack to inform audience segmentation and targeting strategies.

Solutions should be seamless- not forced

This solution is what some are now calling a ‘digital marketing hub’ – a customer centric digital marketing engine that can be supplied by one or a series of vendors to meet individual brand requirements.

However, brands need to take care as, just because a series of product offerings are fronted by one company, it does not mean that these products are deeply integrated. The recent M&A activity in this space has led to large companies collecting various products (DMPs, DSPs, CRM, ESP, and CMS) but they have failed to truly integrate these products for the development of one platform.

Marketers should look to deploy an end-to-end solution where mar-tech and ad-tech work together in partnership; offering brands the most advanced solutions from both sides. This holistic approach is most likely to revolutionise the space over the next few years. Experimentation with programmatic models mean clients explore new working relationships and technologies as well as discovering how this channel can help inform personalised marketing experiences in email and on brand websites.

Marketers are likely to continue to experiment in specific programmatic areas e.g. brand, performance or retargeting, while continuing to gradually evolve the way they build their digital brand presence.

In order to ensure a solid foundation as the market continues to evolve, marketers need to be asking the right questions to ensure the solution is the best fit for them and that they have a system that is fully integrated across the overall marketing suite. During this time transparency is key - the ability of all parties involved to have access to data and to understand how to apply it.


By Mike Peralta, CEO of AudienceScience. 

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