Bengaluru: The goal was always the same for marketers and advertisers online: to earn higher revenue at the lowest cost. Only their approaches differed.
While advertising technology, or ad-tech, focused on ways to monetize and target consumers on the Internet by using third-party data like cookies, the marketing focus was largely on collecting data from consumers, reaching them via channels like email and getting and following up on leads.
The rising importance of questions like which customer to target, how best to target them and when have blurred the lines between the two otherwise separate approaches.
In this scenario, firms that offer end-to-end solutions for marketing are coming to the fore. This is because a consistent view and targeting of a customer from when they start showing an interest to when they complete a transaction yields better returns than working in silos with fragmented data.
“Advertising and marketing technologies grew up separately but I think there’s a merger of ad-tech and mar-tech happening," said Andy Frawley, chief executive officer, Epsilon, a marketing firm that offers full-stack solutions for brands. Epsilon is owned by Alliance Data and is based in Dallas and recently entered India.
Such an integrated approach enables a more consistent experience for consumers, Frawley said. “Most importantly, without the integration of ad-tech and mar-tech, it’s very hard to do cross-device omni-channel attribution. The biggest problem in the industry right now is the state of attribution," he said.
The complexity in the ad-tech ecosystem is also a hindrance. An advertiser has to deal with multiple technology vendors to optimise ad placement and make sure the ad reaches the right customers at the right places. With a full-stack solution, these extra steps are pared down.
“As brands look to really take a more audience-centric approach to reaching and engaging their audiences, they both want and need tools and technologies that make it easier to reach those audiences across whichever channel or format they’re in. Certainly, a more holistic ad-tech-mar-tech solution would make this easier," said Lauren Fisher, senior analyst at market research firm eMarketer Inc.
Indian start-ups like Adadyn Technologies Pvt. Ltd and OfferGrid are also offering platforms that make the advertising process simpler than it is.
However, this does not mean that advertising technology firms will go away. Firms that develop business models that target areas that Google and Facebook don’t operate in will continue to thrive, said Karan Mohla, executive director, IDG Ventures, an investor in ad-tech companies Vserv Digital Services Pvt. Ltd, Silverpush Inc. and Adadyn.
“I don’t think one is going to make the other redundant. Mar-tech is a much broader function, and ad-tech is a part of it. There are other segments within mar-tech which are becoming automated, where ad-tech becomes not as important any more, or its relative importance is less because you’re getting more solutions from some of the other sides," he said.
Widespread adoption in India will take some time.
“In India that’s still very early. Going forward, as marketers themselves become used to figuring out where to spend dollars as opposed to giving them to an agency, once that shift happens then you’ll see full-stack solutions from companies becoming a lot more commonplace," said Mohla.