When AdTech Meets MarTech, Part 1
Converge, consolidate, unite … call it what you want, but ad technology (AdTech) and marketing technology (MarTech) are on an irreversible (some might say collision) course to merge data as a source for tracking, anticipating and building customer relationships. However, just because it has to happen doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. There are plenty of internal hurdles facing retail marketers while they try to connect directly with customers without creeping them out. Here are some top obstacles and motivators that are driving the AdTech/MarTech convergence — and the big payoffs it promises.
Fear and Loathing and Google
Google basically created paid search. Some say it’s a monopoly, some say it’s a superior service winning out. Whatever you think of the search engine, Google Analytics knows everything about us and it’s all that data that really puts it so far ahead of the pack. Apple can’t touch Google. Facebook is coming on, but it’s still in the rear-view mirror. Google has bought and controlled clickstream pretty much universally. The result? Yes, Google has delivered a major marketing breakthrough, but there's basically a tax when you click on paid vs. organic. And Google continues to build, gobbling up companies that will reinforce its position, like YouTube.
That kind of power can breed some fear and loathing as consumers worry about privacy and marketers try to cash in on the big data frenzy.
The AdTech/MarTech opportunity promises a new era of customer recognition and relationship-building power for retailers. Solutions, promises and debates abound. However, marketers have had no way to directly connect to their own data. Websites are online stores that already have dozens of tracking pixels on them that offer clickstream data, but traditionally businesses have outsourced to create data collection and perform engagement analysis. That’s a lot of activity beyond their control — with their data.
Meanwhile, red hot AdTech, where VCs saw the opportunity to “make money while you sleep,” isn’t growing so easily anymore. The big IPOs aren’t coming like before as AdTech providers have either maxed out or been bought by bigger platforms. It’s Google and Facebook that are really cleaning up. MarTech is stepping up in new ways to give marketers a chance to finally take control of their own data.
Retail’s Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated
There's been a lot of talk about retail “dying.” And yes, there has been and will likely continue to be news about store closings. But the retail industry — $5 trillion in the U.S. — isn’t dying, it’s changing. One example is the way high-end shoppers are moving from malls to “lifestyle” shopping outlets, which are popping up all over. The shopping experience is becoming more about creating a destination. These outlets are not really cannibalizing core business; they're tapping into new segments.
Amazon.com doesn’t think it’s dying either, as it opens physical stores, much to the consternation of competitors like Wal-Mart. The online retailer understands — as should we all — that despite the coverage and buzz, e-commerce accounts for less than 15 percent of all retail purchases. The remaining 85 percent is spent in stores.
Retail marketers need to take advantage of the AdTech/MarTech convergence to see all these purchases — online and in-store — in a stack to really get a handle on their customers.
In part two of this two-part series, I’ll look at non-celebrity stalking, dancing not tackling, and CMOs under fire.
Augie MacCurrach is the CEO of Boston-based Customer Portfolios, a marketing technology leader that uses insight and analytics to increase customer value.