Say what you want about Scott Brinker's latest Marketing Technology Landscape supergraphic. It's comprehensive. It's colorful. But more than anything, it's complicated.

With 947 marketing software vendors in 43 categories around six major classes, the headache inducing data visualization makes it very clear that even Sisyphus may have had an easier task than today's digital marketers.

Lest you think I'm exaggerating, consider this. Brinker himself told CMSWire there are probably even more vendors in more categories in more classes. And all this begs a very simple question: Does it really have to be so complicated?

Big Isn't Always Better

We told you last week that the marketing software vendor landscape is nine times the size it was a little more than two years ago. Woo-hoo. Bigger isn't necessarily better — and more choices are not always optimal, despite popular misconception.

As Dom Nicastro wrote in his article:

We're sure digital marketers have pain medicine at the ready these days from vendor software migraines. And have you ever walked around some of these marketing conventions? You don't need bourbon to feel a little woozy after the endless pitches and demos. By the way, it's funny, isn't it, how all of them are the 'leaders' of digital marketing software? Pretty cool. 947 software vendors. 947 leaders."

That's exactly what I heard this weekend from a group of digital marketers who were lamenting the increasingly complex world they are forced to live in. And while proponents of choice argue that competition breeds better ideas, the reality is that most digital marketers lack the time, resources, energy or patience to evaluate pitches from endless streams of companies, large and small.

Learning Opportunities

Even fewer of them are willing to gamble that products from multiple vendors will work seamlessly in practice, rather than simply generate headaches that keep them in the office after hours.

Word on the Street

So what do marketers think about the growth in the number of vendors? In informal conversations with a handful of media planners, digital marketers and members of corporate marketing teams, it's clear that choices are not making everyone happy. Here are some of things they had to say:

  • "It doesn't have to be this complicated. I'm all for innovation and creation but really all of these companies do not need to exist. Many of the capabilities the companies offer overlap, they double dip and ultimately try to make the space more complicated than it needs to be. A lot of the digital world is built on smoke and mirrors, even from a B2B standpoint."
  • "The growth in the numbers of vendors has actually made selecting the right partner far more complicated and added to our risks, especially because we have a relatively small team."
  • "We need to simplify.This isn't even the entire communication ecosystem. This is just digital."
  • "As a marketer, I would much prefer to spend time working with clients strategizing, uncovering insights and building solutions versus trying to decipher the fraction of the 1 percent that one company can add to the communications puzzle."

What do you think? If you're a digital marketer, do you prefer the specialized solutions of multiple vendors or the streamlined solutions of a goliath like Google? Has it all become too complicated?

Title image by Semisatch (Shutterstock)