Demystifying Marketing Tech

Embracing and adopting new technology was a presiding theme at this year’s Marketing&Tech Innovation Summit. However, it seems that as marketers’ technological options grow, their practical choices shrink. This was one of the key takeaways from a panel at the event, which featured Scott Brinker, cofounder and CTO at ION Interactive; Bhavesh Vaghela, CMO at Response Tap; David Hahn, SVP of product management at Integral Ad Science; and Sharam Fouladgar-Mercer, CEO of AirPR, as the moderator.

When asked how marketers should determine whether a new piece of tech is worth adopting, Brinker opined that, in a perfect world, marketers’ strategies should determine what tech they use. However, he acknowledged that the opposite is often true. “I think the better way to think of this is a little more circular. There’s so much innovation coming out of this space right now,” Brinker said. “You don’t want this [innovation] to drive your strategy per se, but you should keep an eye on how some of this innovation is opening up for potential change in your strategy.”

“We’re seeing a dramatic shift in the way marketers are actually reaching people,” Hahn added. “With a fragmented supply chain, and a much broader way of reaching the people you’re trying to market to, you won’t have the capacity to [reach people] without technology.” This, of course, begged the question of whether marketers should seek all-in-one tech solutions, or explore different tech options for each individual need.

“Tech is never really the limiting factor. It comes down to marketers’ talent with the tech they have,” Brinker opined. “The whole thing with buying a whole suite, or assembling a stack of tech options is really the wrong [approach]. We should be focused on how we can actually execute these customer experiences.”

Indeed, the panel seemed in agreement that updating company culture and focusing on the customer should take precedent over updating tech. “The reality is most marketing teams don’t even use a tenth of the technology they have. They’re buying tech because it’s the coolest thing in town,” Response Tap’s Vaghela said. “You’ve probably got all of the data sets you need. What you need to do is connect it up, and then start using that data to help customers through their journey.” Echoing an earlier Q&A session with Mayur Gupta, Vaghela added that a company culture that embraces tech from the top down, while focusing on the customer, is pivotal to success in today’s rapidly expanding digital environment.

“If we believe that we’re in the age of the customer, and we believe that customers have this power of engaging with us in multiple ways, then we really need to understand how we stitch these [customer] journeys together,” Vaghela said.

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