From Peripheral to Central: The Evolving Role of Technology

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From Peripheral to Central: The Evolving Role of Technology

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Published in Media Digest 2017, author Joseph Leon, President Media V7i

In last year’s Media Digest, I referenced the dawn of a new era of media measurement, driven by a wave of technological innovation and the accelerating convergence of platforms, channels and techniques. Beyond measurement, technology evolution is unlocking a wealth of new marketing opportunities, from omni-channel targeting and dynamic personalization to virtual and augmented reality. But evolution rarely comes without disruption. The role of technology is shifting from peripheral to central and forcing our industry to adapt. The current marketing technology ecosystem is in a sustained state of flux and we are being challenged on three fundamental levels: ownership, expertise and partnership.

Ownership Conundrum

Tech stack, data stack, unified stack, point stack, full stack developer, full stack marketer. We all seem to be obsessed with stacks. Funded by the epic investments of the ‘stackzillas’ (Adobe, Oracle, Saleforce, Google), the rise of the stack has been propelled by the technical integration of two historically distinct silos: Marketing Technology, crudely defined as technology focused on the customer, and Advertising Technology, focused on the prospect.   “While each brand’s approach will vary based on scale, maturity and vertical, the stakeholders have already changed: chief technology officers, chief information officers and chief digital officers are now all at the table, driven by enterprise technology considerations.” This collision is challenging established ownership norms – agency and adtech, brand and martech – in particular around holistic data management and DMPs (data management platforms). While each brand’s approach will vary based on scale, maturity and vertical, the stakeholders have already changed: CTOs, CIOs and CDOs are now all at the table, driven by enterprise technology considerations. Agencies must brace themselves for new challenges, new clients and new ownership models. Adtech cannot and should not continue to operate as an agency-owned silo.

Expertise Vacuum

As technology innovation unlocks opportunity, new questions and challenges arise. Many initially fall between the cracks as the established boundaries of marketing disciplines rapidly blur. An expertise vacuum has emerged as our industry takes time to address the service, skill and resource gaps. Consider the opportunity around ad personalization. As martech has honed personalization via email, SMS and web since the advent of Amazon’s recommendations engine, adtech has languished behind, perhaps distracted by the explosive growth opportunity of programmatic. (And for those eager to protest, crude product retargeting ads do not count as personalization!) Few, if any, viable solutions exist off the shelf and even basic ad personalization requires a custom solution involving several platforms. In this technology gap – between DSP, DMP, adserver, CMS and customer database – lies a thought leadership vacuum and brands need guidance. More than any other discipline, our knowledge of measurement, data and ad platforms should allow us as media agencies, to transcend specialism boundaries; to develop a new, broader technological fluency; and transition our clients into this new age of technology as core.

Partnership & Collaboration

As witnessed by the expertise vacuum above, the surge in integrated solutions and the growing trend for multi-agency pitch teams, technology evolution is proving a potent catalyst for industry change. Quality media services are no longer viable without deep technology fluency, CRM expertise and data management capabilities. Media agencies must learn to partner, collaborate and ultimately integrate with new teams, new agencies and new clients. Technology has made the silos and niche thinking of the past unsustainable. Openness, adaptability and breadth will triumph.

Published in Media Digest 2017, author Joseph Leon, President Media V7i

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