5 marketing tech articles for holiday reading

If you’re here in the States, maybe your July 4th celebration involves three days of hot dogs, barbecue, and ice cold beers and sodas. Or maybe you’re planning to do some catching up on those longer articles you bookmarked, “Pocket”-ed, or emailed to yourself, and never got around to reading.

We’re here to help you out–or add to your burden–with some of the more intriguing (hey, we don’t necessarily agree with them) marketing tech articles that have crossed out virtual desks in the last few weeks. In no particular order:

1. 4 Topologies of Integrated Marketing Technology Stacks

This is one for the geeks and visionaries; a high altitude survey of future options for marketing tech by Scott Brinker, the brain behind the chiefmartec blog. He posits that the holy grail for digital entrepreneurs is developing, not successful individual products, but an industry-planning platform with enough gravitational pull to suck a whole range of products and services into its eco-system.

He cites Windows OS as the prime example of a dominant digital platform, with the critical mass to attract the best efforts of the best software designers. It took years, he says, for Steve Jobs to recognize the importance of iOS as a platform, rather than as the common element in a series of neatly designed gadgets.

In the marketing tech world, a number of big players have seemed to commit to platform models (the Salesforces, Marketos, and Adobes), but they all seem more focused on their own portfolio of features ahead of truly providing opportunities to integrate independently developed software solutions. The result has been a landscape of multiple “weak” platforms, and a proliferation of specialist products. But Brinker sees some potential benefits to where we are now–as you’ll find out.

2. Marketing tech pros,‘Frankenstack’ tools and the future

Honestly, we’ll read anything with “Frankenstack” in the headline, but this Q&A Tom Kaneshige conducted with Scott Brinker makes a nice companion piece to the article above. They look at what can go wrong–a lot–when marketers are cast in the role of IT procurers and data scientists, trying to build a workable marketing stack from the countless promising products Brinker dutifully tracks on his Martec “Landscape” graphics.

Often enough, the result has been “the Frankenstack–a hodge-podge bunch of tools and data islands not integrated, not working in concert.” Transforming these marvels of chaos into workable architectures will, in some cases, be the task of the next decade, says Brinker. And Kaneshige describes Brinker as a “calming voice”!

Brinker does build some solid advice, however, on the underlying foundation of data panic. Consider a centralized data repository, take a gradualist approach to integration, and allow IT to have some governance over the solutions marketers are impulsively downloading, configuring, and running.

3. Facebook Uses Ad Tech to Dominate the Social Advertising Ecosystem

This piece by Chris Horton of Business 2 Community may have appeared in the spring, but the story it represents will be with us all summer, and probably for the next few years. Here at The Hub, we looked at Facebook’s threat to become the dominant online publisher, and overwhelmingly the most important digital channel by which brands can reach audiences. But if Facebook is moving from social platform to publisher, it’s also, as Horton observes, the dominant force in social advertising.

That’s a more-than-potent combination. Imagine Facebook as the primary portal for any mainstream news or entertainment publication–and also as the agency selling advertising around all that content, using its own rich trove of data to enhance targeting. Faceworld. We’re not there yet, but Horton does a great job of showing how Facebook has been putting the pieces of its ad tech strategy together.

4. Stop Building Marketing Platforms For Marketers

At Marketing Land, John Williams begged for mercy on behalf of customers who are increasingly treated as leads rather than people. The staggering proliferation of marketing tech products, he says, “serves marketers, not buyers.”

Despite the remarkable advances in customer journey tracking represented by tools such as Salesforce Pardot, Williams seems convinced that buyers are now empowered to construct their own, individual journeys-to-purchase, in subtly different ways that even the best solutions won’t be able to capture. This is because evaluation of products and services, especially in the B2B world, now takes place entirely independently of any contact with the vendor.

A buyer-focused experience is certainly desirable, but does Williams really know what an automated version of that would look like? You be the judges.

5. Is Programmatic Advertising the Future of Marketing?

Okay, this piece isn’t so long, but it is about programmatic–and yes, you do need to spend time reading and thinking about programmatic, because it’s more than just the current buzzword. The reason, as I tried to explain back in May is that programmatic is not just a automated market for trading ad space–although it is at least that. In essence, it’s big data about audiences, moving at the speed of light. If harnessed, that data could square the marketing automation circle, showing how to provide highly personalized customer experiences on a giant scale.

Jeffrey F. Rayport at the Harvard Business Review gets this, writing: “Bidding on ad exchanges already happens in real time; enhancements in media placement and creative execution (for example, what image goes with what copy for a given recipient) will occur with similar speed.” 

And he calls these developments “mind-bending,” which is just about right. Here at The Hub, we look forward to bending your minds again next week. Happy Independence Day to any of our readers who celebrate it.

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