The convergence of martech and ad tech has been predicted for some time now. Forrester Research cited the trend almost a year ago. The Relevancy Group coined the term “MadTech” to describe this phenomenon even before that, in 2016.
But beyond the great expectations and snappy phrasing, what are the real benefits of combining martech and ad tech for marketers? Parts one and two of this series discussed the tools and data involved in this phenomenon. Part three will explore how this coming-together is impacting engagement and retention strategies today.
One key way is by eliminating data silos and giving marketers not only unified, centralized platforms for customer data but also a way to act upon that data in tangible ways. In other words, the convergence of martech and ad tech is reducing fragmentation and giving effective but disparate marketing tools the ability to work together for better results.
The evolution of interaction
As marketing and advertising technology evolved over the past two decades, every new tool and functionality was hailed as a significant development that would revolutionize the industry, and in most cases, they were, and they did.
The rise of customer relationship management (CRM) systems gave marketers the ability to track, segment and ultimately understand customer activity across multiple touch points. Digital ad networks effectively consolidated the Wild-West free-for-all that was online advertising and turned it into a workable system for marketers — efficient digital media buying finally became a reality.
But as these platforms developed, their ability to integrate and interact with one another lagged. Other intermediate systems gave marketers the ability to combine customer data with targeting, media purchasing and digital advertising inventory management. And now, as “MadTech” has come to prominence, that process is becoming automatic and executable in real time.
This evolution is facilitating engagement tactics that have been priorities for marketers since day one — true personalization, relevance and addressability. None of these are possible, however, without connected customer data, and that is made possible by the martech and ad tech convergence.
Convergence = connection
Martech platforms like CRMs and customer data platforms (CDPs) collect, analyze and parse customer data to facilitate a deeper understanding of customers’ motivations and behaviors. But “MadTech” tools like data management platforms (DMPs) allow marketers to connect digital advertising inventory management with campaign and audience data to optimize future media buys and messaging.
This connection takes customer data that has been collected from a variety of places — the point of sale, loyalty program interactions, the e-commerce platform, and in-store and social media interactions — combines it and takes action on it through digital advertising.
Informing media buys with deep customer insights helps brands get the most out of their advertising dollars. It enables marketers to establish emotional connections with customers because they can identify and engage with them as individuals. It’s a major step forward in customer engagement strategy, made possible by converged marketing and advertising technology.
CRMs, DSPs, CDPs, DMPs… Oh, my!
According to Forrester, this MadTech revolution is being led by enterprise martech vendors. And there’s no shortage of tools available. But this transformation isn’t so much about the tools as about the way the tools are being packaged and used together.
CRMs and CDPs, as mentioned above, still play a crucial role in collecting and segmenting customer activity, and ultimately, data. Demand-side platforms (DSPs) and ad networks, on the other hand, are squarely in the ad tech camp, functioning as digital publishing marketplaces and concerning themselves primarily with media buying.
Systems like DMPs that sit astride these two sets of capabilities are most representative of the martech and ad tech convergence. They enable marketers to craft and deliver personalized communications and offers to existing customers, while simultaneously reaching new customers (identified and informed by existing customer data) through digital advertising.
The benefit of this approach is twofold. Brands know and understand what will resonate with existing customers, leading to more effective engagement with them. And the ability to better target potential customers will lead to a greater return on digital advertising efforts.
Nobody puts data in a silo
The engine that drives both of these outcomes is data — specifically, connected data. Martech and ad tech together can link a brand’s existing customer data, third-party consumer data and advertising interaction data across online and offline touch points, creating true people-based audiences which can be targeted across media ecosystems and the overall digital space. Whereas once these two data sets might have been siloed, with “MadTech” systems, they are integrated, providing a clearer and more complete picture and enabling more effective marketing execution.
In addition to more precise targeting, connected customer data also allows marketers and advertisers to better assess and measure their ad inventory, media buys and outreach programs. Better metrics lead to more effective campaigns, which, in turn, lead to customer acquisition and revenue growth.
Far from being just a novelty of technological evolution, this convergence is fueling truly effective marketing approaches and redefining the way marketers engage with customers and potential customers.