Takeaways from MarTech 2018

by Michael Cruz, Chief Content Officer, 15 May 2018

Takeaways from MarTech 2018

There’s no question MarTech solutions are revolutionizing marketing and will continue to over the next several years. The MarTech Conference was a great crossroads of solutions, allowing me to see the strengths and weaknesses of each one. I was able to fully understand how each focused on various combinations of technology, people and processes to properly market, run sales and manage projects. And while the amount of AI and automation across disciplines was very impressive, it was clear how much we as marketers will need to prep to embrace the change.

Some strong platform attendees:

This year, there was a large focus on real-time visibility and project management from  companies like Workforce, which gets you real-time data, automates administrative work and claims to eliminate excess tools. Percolate was also interesting, mostly because it built deployment functionality into their tool. With that functionality, you can essentially work on a task between different groups, and deploy the campaign once it’s ready; the challenge, of course, is bringing all the right insights into this tool to automate the deployment decision. I didn't see evidence that they tied in well across CDPs (customer data platforms), or DMPs (data management platforms), which, in my opinion, is important.

For video, I thought HapYak was interesting. While it doesn’t provide anything groundbreaking, the idea of overlaying a question that measures sentiment through interactive video with a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down may garner interesting insights. That simple action worked for HomeDepot; with a goal of increasing positive sentiment, HomeDepot used HapYak’s data to lift effectiveness and inform placement of video, thus increasing relativity and, ultimately, usefulness. Knowing how to hit your target with the right type of content at the right time proves once again to be a critical part for achieving success with your content.

I was, however, disappointed to not find any video solution that focused on attribution, or one that measured active engagement vs. passive engagement. Do we know when a video’s volume is turned up or turned down? Do we know if the viewer is on an active tab or not? I feel like this space is ripe for improvement, and Brightcove is sitting pretty with nothing new, while HapYak is putting work back on viewers to gain insights. I also didn’t see or hear about innovations within full personalization in video all the way through deployment.

When thinking about singularity and deployment focused around elements like continuity, Merkle’s enablement and cloud-based platform was definitely highly flexible. With an always-on marketing focus, and intelligent engagement process, it looked to deliver continuity across all touch points, from digital to the call centers—and everything in between. They know that connectivity and optimization is vital to launching successful campaigns today. Merkle is definitely close to creating a holistic communication experience for brands.

Overall, it became clear many brands and agencies have overbought technology, or have understaffed the management of it.  Many are now reaching the point where they need to step back and see if their tech stack is right-sized for their needs.

The crown jewel of MarTech

While one would assume a company focused on predictive, artificial intelligence and machine learning would take this spot, Scott Brinker believes the space is dying as a standalone solution. Predictive, AI and machine learning are so integrated into everything that companies focused on just those applications are dying out. It’s everywhere and nowhere at the same time; this is a clear example of where open source and vertical competition gets interesting. The crown jewel, in my opinion, is Pega. With the goal of being channel agnostic, Pega uses its one-brain approach to manage outbound and inbound marketing on a single canvas. It’s actually a beautiful tool that works at scale.

I’ve also found that when it comes to campaign management and decisions, Pega empowers your ability to personalize. CDPs (customer data platforms) are the new big players and have a lot of power in the way they leverage and integrate data. MDPs (marketing data platforms), while old news, are still essential in managing complex tasks like IDs and big data, but they have been challenged with delivering the data across all platforms. DMPs (data management platforms) are big with focusing on audience information and are best leveraged for programmatic media buys.

Pega is the crown jewel because it’s the closest in making the three work together. Pega provides a great interface with a very agile approach to setting strategies that push data into the proper orchestration. Not only does it seem to merge management, sales and marketing, but it also focuses on customer retention, personalization, omni-channel service and effectiveness around sales—it seems like a dream tool for marketers.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” – Alvin Toffle

At the end of the day, remember these are all just platforms. They all need clean, useful data fed in and strategic people driving it from the top. Without that, it’s a waste of the investment. So let’s make sure to always calibrate our efforts against the best in our industry, and remember tech and process will always require people.

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