S(MAR)T TECH: MAKING INFORMED INVESTMENTS IN MARKETING TECHNOLOGY
Published on June 04, 2020
Today, marketing is as much a science as it is an art. Across a crowded virtual landscape transcending devices and platforms alike, brands have to fight to stay relevant as much as they have to stay visible. Consumers are also tiring of mindless messaging, demanding content that is both engaging and relevant to who they are and what they want. No longer restricted to static spaces, marketers will know that the most successful brand-consumer relationships are those based on full-on experiences.
How does this take place? Technology.
Technology is not only the enabler, it is the experience. It’s what allows for precision targeting, enabling brands to reach the right customers at the right time, personalising messages based on consumer profile, habits and preferences. Compare this to how advertising campaigns were designed in the past, with creatives informed by market research and standardised audience profiles. Progressing in a linear order, once commercials were commissioned, little could be done thereafter to optimise a campaign once live.
Today, real-time data analytics can be used to measure and optimise engagement efforts in near real time in order to maximise results. As an inseparable part of the brand experience, whether immediately visible to consumers or otherwise, technology has the power to shape the success (or failure) of a given campaign and the long-term impression that a consumer might have of a brand.
Clearly, when used well, marketing technologies can help brands gain a competitive advantage over their competitors. Whether that’s through cleverly executed social media campaigns or a well-maintained customer data platform, marketers will know that technology is part and parcel of marketing success in the digital economy.
So where should you begin? Good question.
In this blog post, we’re going to be unpacking what marketers should keep in mind when implementing new marketing technologies and how to ensure they’re getting the most out of their investments.
Regulations are here to stay
As the world continues to transition to an increasingly virtual state, regulations that broadly address the new rules of consumer engagement should come as no surprise. From the European Union’s GDPR to California’s CCPA, these much-spoken about regulatory frameworks have emerged in recent years, prompting marketers to re-evaluate their data collection practices. In many ways, data is a double-edged sword for marketers—despite the benefits to be reaped by way of far more efficient targeting efforts, adhering to increasingly stringent compliance standards continues to challenge marketing veterans.
In early May, the European Data Protection Board updated GDPR guidelines again, to set clearer parameters of what obtaining consumer consent truly entails. Pointing out the current phenomenon of “conditional access” on websites, where cookie walls restrict consumers from accessing content unless they “accept” cookies as a form of consent, the EDPB highlighted that consumers are not being given a genuine choice to offer their consent freely. Frameworks are robustly evolving and it’s clear that more needs to be done by businesses to meet regulators in the middle.
For one, more attention needs to be paid to consent-based, privacy-by-design infrastructures that are built with data compliance in mind. In the case of consent, implementing measures that accommodate separate instances of content requests for each type of data processing activity is one way businesses can ensure that their data collection practices are aligned with relevant regulatory requirements.
While regulators can certainly do more to truly incentivise businesses and vendors to engage in better data collection practises, non-compliance comes at the risk of losing consumer trust altogether. Irrespective of the size of the fine, the cost of reputational damage and lost consumer trust is immeasurable. Even if it’s at the cost of rethinking the vendor you’re working with to supply your customer data management platform, marketers need to look beyond the short-term inconveniences in order to future-proof their businesses.
Less is more
In 2014, eMarketer and Epsilon’s Leading a Digital Marketing Evolution report argued that organisations struggled to “accurately value and implement emerging marketing technologies”. While “leaders” in the sector found that technologies were an enabler for success, less than half of “mainstream” companies could say the same for themselves. Either burdened by legacy infrastructures or unable to cut through the noise of a rapidly growing ecosystem of technology vendors, implementing the necessary tech investments is far from simple.
Six years on, we’d say the argument still stands. Now coloured by a fear of missing out, organisations may have overinvested in marketing technologies, leading to a bloated tech stack. From 2016 to 2017, the industry saw a 40 percent increase in technology solutions providers and by 2019, Luma Partners found that there were now over 40 different platform categories in the martech space, with over 1,000 different providers, each with different offerings.
Rather than being burdened by too many tools in your toolkit, take the time to evaluate what you have and don’t be afraid to ask the difficult questions: Are there any tools that your team hasn’t used in the last 3-6 months? Did you invest in any tools purely because it’s what a partner or team preferred for a specific campaign? Do you have any tools with significant overlap? If it’s a yes to any of those questions, then it’s likely you don’t need it.
Rather than marketing budgets being lost to infrequently used tools, think about where else these financial resources could go instead: from upskilling employees to bolstering the less exciting areas of your infrastructures such as security, less is truly more.
This leads to our next point:
Be holistic, not specific
Technology cannot be the end all be all solution to each and every industry ailment. In fact, a technology is only as good as its implementation and you have to do that well.
Case in point: in the past few weeks, the advertising community found itself in for a rude awakening when a new study produced by UK advertising trade association ISBA, Association of Online Publishers (AOP), and auditor PwC, three remains “a lack of understanding and consistency” across the programmatic supply chain. With an ever-growing ecosystem of intermediaries and solutions providers, the resulting supply chain is messy, inconsistent, and crowded, to the detriment of advertisers and publishers alike. In fact, only 15 percent of all marketing spend for programmatic campaigns ever reaches its intended target, with only 49 percent of entitled profits making its way to publishers.
The findings are certainly startling, but should it come as any surprise? Not really. Advertisers, publishers, and other industry stakeholders are more than well-acquainted with the systemic challenges across the ecosystem and while progress has been made to address them, they’ve largely involved solutions that target specific problems rather than providing a wholly holistic approach. Worst of all, many of them are band-aid fixes that fail to address the root cause of the issue.
Rather than investing in several technologies to comprise your overall tech stack, it’s worth considering whether there are all-in-one alternatives that can allow you to kill two birds with one stone. Our approach at Aqilliz is underscored by a marketing tech stack recognising its potential to immediately address today’s issues as much as the underlying ones that have been building up for decades and the ones we expect tomorrow. For businesses, this can mean no longer being burdened by administrative inefficiencies in the face of smart automation, allowing for increased business agility as well as higher rates of productivity, efficiency, but most of all, cost-savings, across the board.
Ahead of the game
While emerging technologies come and go as they enter the next phase in their maturity, some continue to be met with trepidation, representing a new wave in a completely different brand of automation or governance. Blockchain, for one, continues to be met with trepidation across boardroom discussions for those sceptical of its long-term potential—so ask yourself, is your business a leader or a follower? Because to truly make the long-term changes that the industry sorely needs, we need that willingness to experiment and innovate with “game-changers” that can really transform a sector and its operations for the better. Rather than point for point solutions that only build on top of one another, we need to start from square zero and embrace the innovations that can take us that big step forward once and for all.