Trends in Marketing Technologies

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Karl Van BurenAI and ML are certainly disrupting marketing, and have seen some significant advancements over the past decade, like the growing number of tools that provide behavioral intent data targeting and analytics capabilities, says Karl Van Buren, Co-Founder & CEO at Audyence.

 

  1. What has been the single biggest factor impacting technology adoption by marketers over the recent past? 

Technology helps marketers do more with less. Put differently, marketers always chase better performance at accelerated rates and cheaper costs. Technology enables them to do this in a variety of ways.

Workflow automation technology helps save them time and labor hours, helping them get to market with greater velocity and making optimizations with greater agility.

Data-driven technologies also help improve the performance of their marketing spend by enabling them to better understand customer behavior, personalize marketing campaigns, and measure ROI more effectively.

  1. What role do you see AI and automation playing in technology-driving marketing? It’s now on its way, but what do you foresee over the next year or so?

These ingredient technologies empower speed, performance, and cost savings in multiple industries. In marketing, you hear how generative AI enables more content and creative output. So, from a volume perspective, these technologies are extremely powerful. We can certainly develop more, more quickly.

However, my opinion is that the quality just isn’t there yet. It’s pretty apparent to me when ChatGPT has written something, and multiple studies suggest brand and demand advertising perform better with human-led creative. But it’s early. Over the next year and beyond, I think you’ll see drastic improvements in the quality of output driven by AI tools.

The more exciting developments are the advances that AI is making in the predictive analytics arena. AI, of course, has the power to analyze vast amounts of data quickly and efficiently.

For example, AI can process real-time customer data from various sources, such as website interactions, social media behavior, and purchase history, to predict future trends and customer behavior. This capability allows marketers to tailor their campaigns more effectively, ensuring they reach the right audience with the right message at the right time.

AI is also really revolutionizing the strength of machine learning algorithms. With AI, we can identify patterns and trends in our data that may not have been evident to human analysts. We can analyze more data and a much more diverse set of data.

For example, AI can enhance the algorithms used in customer segmentation and audience targeting. Humans might quickly identify key target industries, company sizes, geographies, and personas. But it’s much more difficult to segment these audiences by deeper behavioral data, demographic data, historical purchase patterns, and other less obvious trends. AI makes this a lot easier.

I think you’ll see leaders in the major martech and ad tech categories deploying AI to boost their predictive analytics offerings and historical performance reporting. I’m excited about what that will mean for the industry – making more intelligent decisions faster to drive better decisions ultimately.

We’re also leveraging AI to allow marketers to make better decisions regarding channel selection, audience targeting, content alignment, and more. With the level of predictive intelligence, we plan to bring to market later this year, marketers will be able to improve the performance of their demand-generation campaigns dramatically.

  1. The launch of the first ever RTD platform will add a lot of value to marketing tools. Why do you feel it was not done earlier? Digital transformation of other processes started a few years ago, why did we only now get a digital platform for marketing processes?

Business-to-business technologies, particularly marketing and advertising, have always lagged behind business-to-consumer tech. But you have seen some significant advancements over the past decade, like the growing number of tools that provide behavioral intent data targeting and analytics capabilities, for example.

We’re focused on transforming how people purchase, manage, and optimize a specific tactic: B2B content syndication. We’re not the first to try this, but we are the first to apply a programmatic solution to solving it. Many have previously failed in their efforts. Some just couldn’t overcome the cold-start problem.

It’s difficult to build products but even more challenging to create markets. You have to be able to attract supply and demand, and one wants enough of the other to be interested. My co-founder and I have both been in this industry for a long time – 40+ years combined. We’re fortunate to have the relationships required to build a market.

Others have failed, frankly, because, in my opinion, they got too greedy in squeezing too much margin out of the ecosystem for their benefit and to the detriment of their customers and suppliers. Companies that build markets and transform industries often achieve that by changing the very economics of that industry.

They’ve built solutions that benefit the entire ecosystem – buyers and sellers – even to the detriment of their easy profits. This forces them to take new, innovative approaches to solving old problems that plague those industries. It forces them to operate efficiently. And it forces them to look at the entire ecosystem as “customers” or at least “beneficiaries” of their product or service. That outlook leads to different decision-making in building the company, including its products.

We’ve taken that approach as well.

Some call Audyence a disruptor, which I suppose is flattering, but I see us as enablers. We want to help everyone involved in the buying and selling of content syndication campaigns. That includes agencies, marketers, publishers, and data providers. So we take that mindset to everything we build and see that pay off in big ways. We’ve created a solution that, for example, allows the supply side to earn more at a higher rate of profitability while also decreasing costs for buyers. We’re changing the economics of B2B content syndication for everyone’s benefit and seeing people take notice.

  1. Continuing on that, how do you think the trajectory of technology adoption in marketing has panned out over the last few years? In your opinion, do you think it is satisfactory? If not, what more could have been done to hasten the technology adoption?

The market size in terms of revenue is growing by about 12% per year, and adoption rates are increasing, especially in the mid-market to small-enterprise space. But that’s a general category, which includes a very diverse set of products at different maturity phases and growing at drastically different rates.

Programmatic display platforms, specifically SSPs and DSPs focused primarily on display inventory, are a very mature category. The sub-category has been around for 20+ years, and its growth is slowing.

The demand is certainly still high for it, but it’s in a later maturity phase, so you’re seeing single-digit growth rates in that category. Still, some niches still have a ton of white space within this sub-category.

Other subcategories, too, are seeing tremendous growth and are really the rapid currents driving the development of the overall “Martech” category. Some of the fastest growers include Content & Experience tools, especially those focused on personalization and deploying AI to achieve a level of previously impossible personalization.

Commerce & Sales tools have been growing for many years but continue to post double digits, and we’re seeing a major pick up in adoption amongst B2B companies. Those two are fairly obvious as to why they’re growing so rapidly. A less obvious category is Workflow Automation, or what some might call “Management Tools.”

This sub-category includes vendor analysis and management tools, marketing budget and finance tools, and project workflow tools. We’re seeing a ton of growth there (over 50% y/y), likely because of the changes remote work has brought to how workforces collaborate.

The overall growth of Martech is undoubtedly exciting as a CEO of a Martech company. But it’s these underlying currents that show what types of technologies will drive future development of the category, and we’re leaning into what buyers are looking for.

  1. Do you think B2B marketing is at a disadvantage of sorts, when it comes to adoption of time saving and cost optimal tools running on, maybe automation. What is the reason? Hyper personalization is possible with the right AI tools. So, do you really see a lag between B2B and B2C MarTech adoption??

B2B martech has always lagged behind B2C. Much research has been done to define the “why” behind that statement. It’s a combination of factors, all of which are inherent to the nature of business-to-business transactions.

The primary reason is that (and my B2C marketing counterparts may vehemently disagree with this, but this is my perspective) B2B marketing is more complicated. The purchase process is much more intricate and protracted.

Unlike B2C transactions, which may involve relatively straightforward decision-making processes, B2B purchases often require navigating through complex organizational structures involving multiple stakeholders, extensive research, and negotiations.

Consequently, the marketing technology landscape for B2B must address these complexities with more specialized and sophisticated solutions, which may take longer to develop and implement.

Another contributing factor to the lag in B2B marketing technology is the comparatively smaller size of the B2B market. With fewer potential customers and a narrower target audience, B2B companies may allocate fewer resources to marketing technology than their B2C counterparts.

This limited investment may result in a slower pace of innovation and development within the B2B marketing technology sector as companies prioritize areas with potentially higher returns on investment.

A more understated factor is that the nature of B2B marketing differs significantly from B2C marketing in terms of focus. And I mean that quite literally in terms of the “focus” on audiences.

While B2C marketing often emphasizes branding and mass marketing campaigns aimed at broad consumer audiences, B2B marketing tends to prioritize targeted, personalized approaches tailored to specific decision-makers within organizations.

This shift in focus may lead to fewer advancements in B2B marketing technology that cater to mass consumer audiences, further contributing to the perceived lag.

Legacy systems and processes prevalent in many B2B organizations also hinder the adoption of new marketing technologies. These legacy systems, which may have existed for years, present challenges such as integration with existing infrastructure, data migration, and organizational change management.

Consequently, implementing innovative marketing technologies in the B2B space can be slower than B2C, where companies may have greater flexibility to adopt new solutions. If you’ve ever tried to sell B2B SaaS, including MarTech, to a Fortune 500 company, you’ll understand what I’m saying.

Lastly, regulatory and compliance considerations add another layer of complexity to B2B marketing technology development and implementation. B2B transactions often involve stricter regulations and compliance requirements compared to B2C transactions.

Marketing technologies in the B2B space must adhere to these regulations, which can slow down the pace of innovation and adoption as companies navigate the regulatory landscape.

But B2B is definitely catching up to B2C. I think we’ll see the gap shrink over the next five years.

Check Out The New TalkMartech Podcast.

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