We’re in a period of unparalleled marketing and ad technology growth. By 2017, Gartner predicts, CMOs will outpace CIOs in terms of tech spending. “The transfer of power,” writes industry site CIO, “is nearly complete.”

What’s driving this transition? Marketing clouds, for one, as well as the proliferation of programmatic buying. Whereas the universe was, up until recently, split into AdTech for sales and MarTech for delivery, the shift in how we buy and execute on ad campaigns has blurred the lines significantly. Matters are about to get murkier with the introduction of programmatic TV and radio buying, among other extensions, leaving less room for silos and black-and-white approaches to how brands integrate and activate.  

And that’s a good thing … as long as everyone’s ready for the seismic cultural shifts that come with this.   

It’s About People

Successful MarTech/AdTech convergence isn’t just about technology — it’s also about the people and processes that make it all possible. Until recently, marketers could leave it to agencies to deal with the ins and outs of AdTech tied to programmatic buying. But that’s no longer the case. Today’s data-driven marketer is the prevailing archetype and, as a result, technology is his playground.

All of this change starts from the top. Technology, once a telltale differentiator between the creative/marketer and the analyst/technologist, has unified departments and organizations around more clear-cut common goals and responsibilities. Today, marketers are so data-focused that they naturally become technology decision-makers, even jumping ahead of their tech-centric counterparts organizationally. We’re seeing it more and more: companies putting CMOs over CIOs, imbuing marketers with ultimate oversight for technology decisions. That never would have happened even five or 10 years ago. But, because of the data-driven nature of today’s marketing landscape, this leadership shift feels organic in a lot of ways.  

That said, CMOs naturally amass and leverage data differently than do CIOs. Consequently, MarTech solutions have been forced to evolve, delivering information that’s more integrated, consistent and cohesive. It’s these next-generation marketers who have torn down the AdTech/ MarTech walls. The distinction simply doesn’t matter to the evolved CMO. In fact, the convergence helps boost his agenda and maximize what he does best: creating compelling, customer-first connections. 

Everyone’s a Marketer

With the upper echelon squared away, it’s time to extend the trend: Today, everyone’s a marketer. Tech convergence has empowered brands and shifted much of the responsibility from AdTech-focused agencies. Now you’ve got CMOs who are making technology decisions that emerge from their unique needs and priorities. What’s more, thanks to MarTech consolidation, fewer and fewer solution-specific experts are needed, and more and more people can be involved in the processes. Gone are boundary-laden job responsibilities — no one’s just an analyst, content marketer or ad buyer anymore. 

None of this is meant to be menacing or to make technologists or marketers fearful for their jobs. Quite the opposite, actually. The convergence of MarTech and AdTech will require some getting used to, but, without a doubt, the smart, nimble, customer-first organizations will be able to adapt to this shift. The proliferation of programmatic buying will definitely force a lot of hands, but top-down cultural shifts will be central to making the most out of this exciting moment in time. It’s clear that such convergence brings a host of opportunities and seemingly limitless value for brands and consumers. 

Without the traditional boundaries between service-centric roles, data can freely integrate and overlap, delivering exponentially more value for both consumers and organizations. But first, we’ve all got to get on board — and mean it.

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