Marketing is at a crossroads. While every group in a business is surfing on the wave of digital transformation and technology innovation, Marketing - and one of its avatars Customer Relationship - is the only department that is not yet truly optimized in terms of performance and return on investment. Why is that? A plethoric and fragmented technology “stack” that does not deliver on its promise. And an increasingly blurred border between retention of existing customers ("MarTech") and acquisition of new customers ("AdTech").

MarTech and AdTech: generating Marketing fatigue and frustration

For the past few years, we have been watching helplessly as digital advertising reached its limits. Purchasing banners or retargeting people based on their browsing history no longer works, it does not convert as it used to (if it converts at all…). Today, consumers perfectly understand the trick and they hate feeling retargeted again and again. Overwhelmed and frustrated by poorly targeted advertising messages, they are equipped with ad blockers (according to Reuters, 47% of internet users in the US have an ad blocker) or subscribe to premium offers from content providers such as Spotify, just to get rid of all advertising.

Despite the unprecedented availability of massive data volumes, messages are rarely relevant or accurate. They are based on continued interruption of consumers, who receive messages at inappropriate times via irrelevant channels. Despite the promise of hyper-personalization made by Brands every day, Mass Marketing is far from being dead. It remains the principal rule and barely reaches a ROI of 2%, which pushes marketers to use and abuse of these techniques. Meanwhile, Marketing fatigue is increasing exponentially: half of the consumers ignore all messages of a brand from the moment they receive a poorly targeted email, according to a survey by Gigya.

A plethoric technological offer: “MadTech”

Traditionally released every year in the spring, the well known "Marketing Technology Landscape" from analyst Scott Brinker now includes nearly 7000 vendors! From mobile marketing and programmatic advertising solutions to customer experience, customer relationship management, and customer data management, it becomes difficult if not impossible to navigate. Moreover, some providers remain unclear in their message and perpetuate the confusion between AdTech and MarTech because they try to position themselves astride the two worlds.

If this plethora of technologies certainly reflects on the vitality of the market (+12% compared to 2017), it does not necessarily ensure the success of software vendors. The solutions are generally fragmented, only dealing with part of the marketing problem and they can barely be interfaced with each other. Moreover, with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies must revise their data governance processes and therefore forgo some of the practices which have been trendy in the past. They must now collect the explicit consent of individuals to whom they wish to send messages, whatever channel is used (SMS, email, mail, etc.) and make sure they restrict the number of messages sent to each contact every month.

Towards an absorption of AdTech by MarTech?

Even if it is possible to simplify Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape, in order to keep just the most important offerings and to reorganize them around specific business needs, the confusion between AdTech and MarTech remains. Knowing that a US company uses an average of 91 cloud Marketing services, are new solutions really able to simplify the task of Marketers?

Today, we would answer by the positive to this question considering the democratization of Artificial Intelligence solutions and especially Machine Learning, which analyzes through unsupervised algorithms multiple data of all types: behavioral, third party, historical, etc. These algorithms can find causality relationships on known individuals and thus extrapolate the same type of relationship to unknown individuals. The whole point of advertising - acquire new contacts who are not yet listed in the company's databases - is being eroded in favor of a technology capable of creating bridges between the two worlds of Advertising and Marketing.

It is clear that today Advertising agencies must reinvent themselves. They are well aware of this and hire specialists in data - data scientists, data analysts. But MarTech experts are a few years ahead. They have been analyzing and leveraging data for much longer. Personalized Marketing is likely to ring the end of Advertising as we know it.

Despite the lead of MarTech on data processing and the explosion of "buzzwords" related to personalization, most tools that are currently available to marketers do not significantly boost the performance of Marketing campaigns. While the power of algorithms is currently disrupting entire sectors of the economy - automotive, health, industry, agriculture, etc. - Marketing technology is still struggling to take full advantage of the power of Artificial Intelligence. AI is however able to cure the methodological and technical biases of Marketers to finally recreate connections and loyalty between brands and customers.