Ad Tech, Mar Tech or Ad Agencies – Who Wins The Game?

Last week I attended DC Marketing Tech Talks Meetup that hosted a panel discussion “How Do I Spend my Marketing Dollars, Ad Tech, Mar Tech, or Ad Agencies?”

It is always great to have this kind of multi-faceted perspective. How do Ad Tech and Mar Tech relate to each other, when and why do we need an agency, what business cases do they address? How do they handle data, what analytical metrics do they provide – these and other questions were discussed at the meeting.

Key thoughts and my takeaways:

  1. Marketing ecosystem is so abundant that it eliminates any prescriptions and recipes – there are multiple ways, combinations of channels and tools to achieve your business and marketing goals. Complexity is a price of freedom and flexibility.
  2. As Tom Pines, CEO of Real Magnet puts it, there is a shift in the marketing technology – marketers want to be self-served, they want to own and control data and processes. On the other hand, there is an increasing need for strategizing – what goals and objectives does a company want to achieve and how to translate those into an actionable. Thus, there might be a conflict: setting up all data systems inside a company might be easier than finding professionals to govern and operate them. An external consulting team might be a solution, but this undermines the whole idea of managing the data internally.
  3. Ad Tech and Ad Agency might complement each other, and very often they are going together. Martech often implies a set of basic marketing needs that have to be addressed before going further. Within marketing, it’s a lower level of Maslow’s triangle – before running any ad campaign, you need to have CRM and marketing automation set up. Also, the panel speakers agree that there is a strong correlation: B2B tends to use Mar Tech, B2C is primarily focused on Ad Tech.
  4. Matt Ross, Director of Sales at AOL Advertising, says that we are getting too much data- and analytics-driven. But what if our message simply does not resonate? Weak or irrelevant? It reminds me of a great article on Techcrunch that quotes HBR: We never call anything that’s good “content.” Nobody walks out of a movie they loved and says, “Wow! What great content!”. The same issue was raised by Margaret Molloy at recent MOCCA event in NYC on marketing trends. At some point she brought “right-brain” perspective into “left-brain” position presented by Scott Brinker: with all your technologies, you still need a story, a compelling brand, a great genuine message.
  5. The discussion supported my strong feeling that social marketing boom is over, the bubble popped at least several years ago. It is not sexy anymore. But guess what? It became a well-established ad market, armed with technologies, methodology, algorithms, best practices. The same thing happened and happens to other channels at different time – TV, online video, blogging, email marketing. There are new fancy and sexy technologies out there – but at some time, they will become a commodity, a bit boring, well explored and much predictable. There will be no more disruptive innovations, but operational improvements and zealous competition among vendors.
  6. When talking about resources, the speakers were mentioning time on a par with money. Such a great view – to value our time no less than our money, if not more!

Overall, it was a great event, kudos and thanks to the meetup organizers and speakers. Calendar for the next meetups is available here.


One response to “Ad Tech, Mar Tech or Ad Agencies – Who Wins The Game?

  1. Pingback: When 2016 Meets 2017 | Martech.Site·

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