What CMOs Need to Know About Synthesizing Ad Tech and Mar Tech

Adweek led a Slack chat ahead of Dmexco with 4 industry leaders about this year's hot topic

Adweek held an online panel with (clockwise from top left) Arun Kumar, CTO/CDO, IPG; Suzanne O’Kelley, vp, product for buyers, Xandr; Bobby Jania, vp, product marketing, Salesforce; and Des Cahill, vp, CMO, Oracle CX. Illustration: Augusto Costanzo for Adweek
Headshot of Ronan Shields

According to the latest Gartner CMO Spend Survey, companies are spending nearly one-third (29%) of their marketing budgets on mar tech—up from 22% in 2017—with 9% of participating CMOs claiming that “marketing innovation” will be a key part of their practice in 2019.

If the numbers suggest a shift toward a more data-led practice, Ewan McIntyre, vp, analyst, Gartner for Marketers and the report’s co-author, thinks it’s about time. He says the findings also show that marketers still predominantly focus on metrics that hold little meaning outside of their own departments.

Illustration: Augusto Costanzo for Adweek

For instance, only 16% of those surveyed cited “customer acquisition” (via paid-for media) as a top-three capability. McIntyre says marketers should start to lean in on KPIs that demonstrate real value to their wider enterprises.

In doing so, CMOs will foster a greater internal appreciation for the value of marketing efforts and investment, and a greater understanding that using ad tech to acquire new customers is the key to demonstrating such ROI.

Simply put, all customer experience (CX) programs must create business value, which is gained through acquiring and retaining profitable customers, argues McIntyre. Achieving that value requires better synchronization of ad tech and mar tech. Knowing how to successfully synthesize the two will prove a valuable skill for marketers looking to further their careers.

Ahead of this year’s Dmexco (short for Digital Marketing Expo and Conference) in Cologne, Germany, Adweek held an online panel conversation via Slack with four experts in the field to gauge their insights on how the intersection of ad tech and mar tech plays out. (The following transcript has been edited for brevity and narrative flow.)

Panel participants:

Ronan Shields, programmatic editor, Adweek

Des Cahill, vp, CMO, Oracle CX

Bobby Jania, vp, product marketing, Salesforce

Arun Kumar, CTO/CDO, IPG

Suzanne O’Kelley, vp, product for buyers, Xandr

Adweek: The intersection of ad tech and mar tech has been much debated recently. Can you offer your assessment as to what this actually means? For instance, what will the tangible benefits for marketers be? Less wastage on media spend, etc.?

Des Cahill: Technically, it’s the capability to manage customer and prospect identity and data across the journey. … Marketers can benefit by personalizing to the customer from unknown to known—across customer journey/lifecycle. More personalization equals more conversion.

Bobby Jania: The continued merger of ad tech and mar tech represents a desire on the part of marketers to unify their strategies across all customer touch points and deliver personalized engagement. Marketers continuously tell us they want to consolidate the view they have of their customers and be able to act on immediate insights across multiple channels, including digital advertising.

Cahill: I think Bobby’s point on “act on immediate insights” is a key thing. Also, the ability to act across channels with the same insights.

Arun Kumar: One of the tangible benefits of a fully connected data technology and services solution is that it can constantly optimize consumer engagement and media spend for marketers. We see this when our clients take advantage of our integrated stack and publisher marketplace as a singular solution.

Illustration: Augusto Costanzo for Adweek

@Arun Kumar, can you explain how the integration of Acxiom is helping marketers to get better efficiency out of their media budgets with you?

Kumar: Like some have said before, it helps us bring the known and the unknown worlds together. For example, we have an automobile client who spends budgets on both advertising and incentives. … The two were never connected. Why would you bombard a person who is a lifetime buyer of your product repeatedly instead of going after growth and new customers? This results in massive efficiencies but also a better experience for customers and better conversion for clients. Ultimately, suppression in media is hugely important.

@Suzanne O’Kelley, your outfit [Xandr] is in the process of putting together what some might call a “unique offering” in this respect. Do you care to offer more on how the integration of the AppNexus ad tech assets is progressing the Xandr offering?

Suzanne O’Kelley: Regardless of the technology they’re using, marketers are continuously looking for opportunities to better understand their customers’ needs. … Mar tech platforms generally provide visibility for a marketer’s engagements with their customers across a swath of touch points, and may enable engagement in certain areas—say, blogging or email marketing.

Ad tech platforms have typically been more limited to helping marketers engage with customers through ads, and with the work we’re doing on the Xandr Invest platform, we’re looking to blur those lines.

[At Xandr], we’re working on pulling together all the insights we have access to across a broad swath of AT&T and other touch points to help marketers improve their engagements with their customers, similar to the stories @Arun Kumar referenced above [through new ad formats].

In my research for this conversation, I came across an analyst presentation that asserts that this convergence has to happen because the “ad tech/mar tech ecosystem is broken”—their theory being that there are fundamental cultural differences between the pair. For instance: ad tech is focused on a media model; mar tech has a customer-centric model. Some would even argue there are fundamental cultural differences between both constituencies.

Cahill: Agree on the cultural differences between ad tech and mar tech on the practitioner side and the vendor side as well. But … customers are customers, and I am unhappy that I am still being retargeted four months after buying a new car. How many times do they want me to buy it?

It’s all about creating a central customer profile … and bringing those together via DMP and ID Graph integration. We think of this [Oracle’s suite of tools] as a customer intelligence platform that spans ad tech and mar tech.

Jania: Brands are recognizing that they need to put the customer at the center of every interaction, which means that mar tech and ad tech have to leverage the same customer profile. A brand can’t meet today’s customers’ expectations without mar tech and ad tech campaigns being aligned.

Illustration: Augusto Costanzo for Adweek

This story first appeared in the Sept. 2, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@ronan_shields ronan.shields@adweek.com Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.