Most companies today are still struggling to integrate data and technologies within their marketing departments. But an even greater challenge lies on the horizon: integrating marketing technology with advertising. And inevitably this mash-up of MarTech and AdTech will be called MadTech.

It Starts with the Customer

The forces driving MadTech are the same as those pushing for MarTech integration. They start with customers’ expectations that companies will deliver a unified, consistent and highly personalized experience across all touchpoints. Technology gives marketers the potential to meet those expectations by providing ever-increasing volumes of customer information, ever-greater analytical processing power to make sense of that data, and ever-expanding channels for customer interaction.

Insofar as consumers are upset about the near-total loss of privacy — and it’s not clear how many really care — they are consoled with the promise of receiving more personalized goods and services in return. Marketers must deliver those personalized treatments to avoid facing consumers’ merciless, social-media-amplified wrath.

The problem challenge opportunity is that even a fully integrated MarTech stack can’t deliver a wholly consistent customer experience. Advertising still plays a major role in a customer’s brand experience. Moreover, advertising itself is becoming increasingly personalized and interactive. Consumers don’t make a distinction between marketing and advertising interactions. And to meet their expectations, neither can marketers.

The Best of Both Worlds

What does this MadTech world look like? It’s not just an extension of MarTech to ad channels. Rather, it’s a merger of MarTech and AdTech strengths. These fall into three layers:

  • Data: MarTech is built on a marketing database, which stores detailed information about a company’s interactions with named individuals. AdTech is built on data management platforms, which store more-or-less anonymous audiences built with information from many sources. MadTech combines the two: it merges internal and external information into detailed profiles that can be linked to actual people. This requires substantial advancement in current technologies for linking people to addresses, devices and locations and for instantly accessing data outside the company’s own systems. As with all elements of MadTech, the new technologies are not fully developed but the requirements are already clear.
  • Decisions: MarTech systems manage complex, multi-step campaigns and measure their impact on the customer journey with advanced attribution. AdTech systems use real-time bidding and behavior-based recommendations to deliver the highest response at the lowest cost. MadTech will expand the use of advanced analytics to create and select content, pick the best time and place to deliver it, and optimize long-term return on investment. Early versions of these capabilities are available in isolation but they remain to be refined and integrated into a seamless package. They will be.
  • Delivery: MarTech delivers personalized messages in company-owned media such as email and Websites. AdTech delivers targeted messages to audiences in paid media such as display and search ads and in earned media such as publicity and social networks. MadTech will combine these features to deliver personalized messages across all media — something that will become increasingly possible as technology allows real time connections between externally owned channels and media buyers’ execution systems. The scope will include previously-private media such as a company’s emails to its own customers: companies will increasingly discover that delivering carefully selected external messages can add value for customers while generating increased revenue for the firm.


MadTech encompasses every cutting-edge technology you can think of — big data, internet of things, machine intelligence and the rest — but it’s more than just the mother hive of buzzwords. In fact, it implies a fundamental shift in how marketers do their jobs. 

In the MadTech model, anyone with a budget will have equal access to data and delivery, available as external services. This means the only real differentiator appears in the decision layer, where marketers will compete to make the smartest decisions about which messages to deliver to which customers in which media. This will result in a renewed focus on core marketing skills such as branding, positioning, value definition and even — gasp — creative development. 

Today’s obsession with technical issues of data management and message plumbing will fade into the background as those become commoditized utilities available for purchase on demand. The underlying technology will be more sophisticated than ever, but that sophistication will finally reach the level where it frees marketers to do what they do best — anticipate and meet true customer needs.

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License Title image by  rutlo