Tech Tool Tourist: Gartner's Digital Marketing Transit Map
Feeling turned upside down by the digital marketing landscape? There's an app for th... well, at least Gartner has taken the time to build a handy transit map style infographic to show us the digital marketing toolkit in a somewhat navigable way.

Digital Marketing Hoods

Look at that map. Just, look at it. We find it hard to believe there is any one person alive, including the Gartner analysts who created this map, who really understands how all those tools fit together. But that's okay. We are here to learn. We are tech tool tourists.

Like a proper tourist, it's best to stare at the map blankly for a minute just to sort of try and orient yourself. Go ahead. We'll wait. Now, tilt your head to the side - that's it. Don't know where to go or which route to take, eh? That's exactly how many organizations feel because there is a glut of marketing tools out there, and the terminology isn't exactly standardized, so the world is rife with confusion.

The map we have here is good, but the Garter version is interactive, and all the tracks can be turned off to view a simpler map without all the station names. Each route can then be highlighted individually so selected routes can be more closely examined without all the noisy text. Additionally, in the interactive map, the neighborhood names pop out some details when hovered over. Our static map doesn't show that data, but we'll lay it out here.

Neighborhoods in our digital marketing city are Ad Ops, Design, Social Ops, Mobility, Web Ops and Data Ops. They're labeled with the grayed out, all caps text. Each neighborhood is more or less made up of related tools in that area. Mobility, for example, has tracks for analytics, marketing management, real time data, mobile (obviously) and emerging technologies. Finally, all the tools meet up in the center, the marketing hub.

Neighborhoods are defined as:

  • Ad Ops - The management of paid media, like search, display and video across online, mobile and social destinations, and the use of programmatic techniques to measure advertising.
  • Design - Creation of style and creative assets like Web pages, images, video and apps that grab attention and communicate information and offers.
  • Social Ops - Customer and public interactions through social channels to distribute engaging content and offers through earned media.
  • Mobility - Programs and offers in any context at any time or place.
  • Web Ops - Management of an organization's owned media assets, like website, apps, and social media pages.
  • Data Ops - Hub for collecting and distributing data while protecting privacy, usage restrictions and data integrity.

Plan and Manage Technology Effectively

Drilling down a bit more, we get to the tracks, and like the neighborhoods, the track names are interactive on the Gartner website. There's ad technology, analytics, creative, commerce, emerging technologies, marketing management, mobile, real time data, search, social, strategy and user experience.

Learning Opportunities

On each track, there are product and vendor stations by type, so they're vendor neutral. No company names given, just terms that can be used as definitions, and a starting point.

Tracks are defined as:

  • Ad technology - Technology for managing ads including search, display, video, mobile and social, with functions for targeting, design, bid management, analytics, optimization and automation of digital advertising.
  • Analytics - Discovery and evaluation of patterns in data, like addressing specific business issues rather than generic business intelligence tools.
  • Creative - Designing marketing programs and elements, from idea through execution.
  • Commerce - Transactions like shopping.
  • Emerging technologies - Technology innovations in an early stage of maturity, such as initial commercialization of technology, with typically less than 5% market penetration. Emerging technology is usually first generation and high priced, and requires customization.
  • Marketing management - Execution of marketing programs and the administration of marketing activities.
  • Mobile - Communication, applications and activities through wireless devices like handhelds, tablets and portable computers.
  • Real time data - On demand analytics in real time for marketers to assist in rapid-response decision making.
  • Search - Technology for finding relevant content on websites and displaying results in easy to use formats. 
  • Social - Environments, apps, technologies, businesses and cultures that focus on interpersonal communication.
  • Strategy - Understanding market opportunities, cultivating markets and customers, and generating awareness and demand for products and services.
  • User experience - Designing and implementing user centric customer experiences that are conducive to business objectives such as customer acquisition , support, satisfaction and advocacy.

Transit maps are fun and useful, and these definitions are great places to start when shopping for the right digital marketing tools. We particularly like to see the intersections of these technologies because it helps paint a more vivid image of what combined, more advanced systems can do.

Large vendors certainly like to say they can do it all when it comes to marketing. However, there are so many links in the digital marketing transit map, it's easy to see how they could be outmaneuvered by companies that focus on just one track.