Transcending competition to avoid chaos
More than 1800 adtech players have burst onto the digital advertising scene in recent years, each pushing their unique selling point and agenda.
This is the nature of any emerging and open market, although the pace and intensity is unprecedented in our industry. It's brought with it an exciting new age of opportunities, careers and possibilities.
But what has it done to the already full and complex world of marketers and publishers?
It's an understatement to say that these guys are being absolutely bombarded.
With the noise not looking to abate anytime soon, I can't help but think that the solution actually sits with us - those creating the rabble - the adtech companies who have gloriously descended upon the custodians of spend and inventory.
We must solve the very challenges we have created, by fitting together more seamlessly. If we don't, I fear the doors previously open may start creaking, potentially robbing all parties of the opportunity for adtech to win and prosper.
It's impossible for any one brand or publisher to have hundreds of suppliers effectively engaged, all operating on different platforms, filling one piece of the puzzle whilst ignoring the others.
A recent study by Econsultancy and Tealium found that 51% of marketers surveyed had 21 or more marketing technology vendors that they worked with. Three years ago, only 36% of them had that many.
The theme of 'partnerships' was also prevalent at the MarTech conference in San Francisco earlier this month. The discussion was around clients having an unsustainable volume of different licenses and solutions.
So far it's been left to the brands, publishers and their agencies using these emerging technologies to figure out how to make multiple data feeds, systems and platforms complement each other.
Staying ahead of the curve with anything close to cohesion and a single view customers is almost impossible when you factor in social listening, data management, media delivery, content sharing, analytics and optimisation tools, to name a few ... all across multiple consumer engagement channels and devices.
The tech companies need to do a better job at aligning their offerings. I'm not necessarily talking about full systems integration, although where commercially viable that obviously makes sense.
Clients are already demanding better cooperation so the reality is we'll soon have no choice. They rightly want both tech and humans to speak to each other which brings me to the most over-used and under-realised term in our industry: partnerships.
In this reference I'm not talking about vendors calling their clients 'partners'. I'm talking about, where it makes sense, calling our competitors 'partners'. Putting the company or personal ego aspect of competition aside and working together to grow the industry and deliver improved experiences and results for brands and publishers. Teaming up pro-actively on workable solutions that genuinely help all parties involved.
Some partnerships just make sense.
Recently (which in part motivated me to write this post) we've formed half a dozen partnerships in Australia, because they're obvious when looked at through the customer's eyes rather than our own.
For example, we're teamed up with an email marketing company, by providing software and a way to programmatically target consumers and their social connections that open eDMs.
We've also partnered with a number of our perceived 'competitors' in the data management and analytics space, by integrating with their platforms to give clients a better end-to-end experience and less touch points.
With quite a few of these companies we haven't even worked out if we are competitors or not - we've stopped caring.
And that's the point.
On board the 'partner'ship
The market is thirsty for simplification and complementary businesses that offer technology solutions rather than technology mazes.
Partnerships will be a big part of the way forward. Partnerships that make sense, where software and services in aggregate are greater than the sum of their parts.
The adtech world is fun, fast, furious, chaotic and loud. Partnerships will play a big part in our individual and collective success as the industry matures and rationalises.
Adam Furness is Director of Strategic Accounts, Asia Pacific at RadiumOne.