Forget Ad Tech. It’s All about Marketing Tech.

Posted by Scott Vaughan on December 12th, 2013 at 11:05 am

It’s no secret that CMOs are bamboozled about the how and the why of ad tech and the digital advertising industry as a whole. According to the Outsell, Inc. 2013 Marketing & Advertising Study, 62% of marketers simply dismiss the premise of ad tech and it ranks very low on their priorities.  It is a mystery greater than the Bermuda Triangle.

I regularly hear my CMO peers lash out in frustration when asked about the digital ad tech world with comebacks such as “Too many acronyms”, “I am not sure who’s selling and who’s buying”, and “digital advertising shouldn’t be this complicated”.  The lack of transparency and clarity and the rocket science spouted by many of the pundits leave CMOs and their marketing teams shaking their heads and, even worse, tuning out the noise.

Ad Tech has been hustling and bustling for a decade plus, with a tremendous amount of innovation to help marketers and their agencies find and connect with audiences across the hyper-dynamic Internet world.  Despite genuine intentions, it’s still hard for marketers to understand the value, what they are getting and how it ties back to marketing ROI and impact.

How can this be?  There are incredibly effective techniques and technologies (and media pros using them) enabling smart ways to significantly improve engagement with increasingly always-on, connected consumers and business pros. Are ad tech companies holding secret keys to unlock marketing potential and demonstrate clear return?

As a practicing CMO, I am committed to figuring it out.  It starts with understanding what’s on the CMO’s and marketing department’s agenda.  At the top of the CMO must-do list are driving revenue, creating customers and deepening relationships.  This new world requires that they connect with audiences, create prospects, and measure everything they do to demonstrate business and customer value—the most important metric being return on marketing investment.

My proposal: we need a new way of presenting the value of ad tech.  Heck, we need a MARKETING CAMPAIGN!

As we sit down to plan this high-impact campaign, here are some data points, ideas and things to think about to re-engage CMOs and get them to take another look.

  • Change Our Language. It starts with shifting the language into words and concepts that are relevant to CMOs and aligned with their goals.  The ultimate goal is to communicate how ad tech contributes to engaging and creating customers.
  • Articulate How Ad Tech Integrates with their Marketing Process and Operations. Ad tech is on an island disconnected from marketing tech (the other marketing systems CMOs and their teams rely on such as CRM, marketing automation, social analytics, e-commerce, etc.).
  • Focus on the True Value of Ad Tech – Audience Development and Customer Creation. Marketers today are effectively media companies charged with building their own attention, content and audience.  Ad tech is the perfect fuel to find audiences and develop prospects and customers, something missing from all the other tech they have in their arsenal.
  • Shift from Ad Serving to Customer Serving.  Shift focus from the details of the algorithm and being the “smartest person in the room” to articulating how your solution can help discover, engage and excite prospects and customers.
  • Lay Off the Tech, Align with Marketing Essentials. So many ad tech conversations start and end with explaining or dismissing the black box of “tech”.  Rather, focus on the marketing essentials – message, content, storytelling, audience, metrics and expected outcomes.
  • Eyeballs are Nice, Engagement is Essential.  Nobody, including CMOs have ever seen a bazillion of anything, so don’t spout numbers no human can grasp.  “Access to millions of decision makers” doesn’t mean anything to marketers who are targeting specific audiences.  And having total available market data on the segments and the markets CMOs are pursuing after will lift your credibility and relevancy tenfold.
  • Offer Your Services, Sharing What You Know.  CMOs are trying to build modern marketing organizations.  So share and transfer your company’s/team’s expertise on specific issues.  And provide services that train and develop their staff and teams so their organizational marketing talent can take the lead.  It benefits their organization, while differentiating you and your brand moving you up the preferred provider list.

In the CMO role, I’m on a quest to make this happen. Any ideas for campaigns, initiatives or techniques to fuse ad tech into marketing are welcome in this game changing quest for all of us in the marketing profession.

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