Grab the aspirin, find your magnifying glass and pour yourself a glass of wine.

The number of marketing technology solutions featured in Scott Brinker’s much-anticipated yearly landscape graphic grew for the fifth straight time, eclipsing the 5,000 mark.

Brinker, editor of and chair of the MarTech conference that kicks off today in San Francisco, included 5,381 solutions on the graphic released today, 39 percent more than last year, at 3,874.

A Quickly Growing Ecosystem

5,000? Yikes. Marketers thought 1,800 was "frightening" back in 2015.

Brinker's first graphic in 2011 included 150 solutions.

Six years later, the Marketing Technology Landscape 2017 — which Brinker dubbed the "MarTech 5000" — features 4,891 unique companies, up 40 percent from last year. 

Brinker, aided in graphic production by Anand Thaker, CEO of IntelliPhi, removed only 4.7 percent of the solutions from 2016. Another 3.5 percent changed.

“A lot of these new companies are not trying to replace Salesforce or be the next Marketo,” Brinker said in an interview with CMSWire this week. “They’re actually looking at these companies like Salesforce, Marketo, HubSpot and Oracle increasingly as platforms on which they can add something on top of their ecosystems and provide a better way of analyzing data. Or a better way of pulling together the content you want to use. Or a better way of bringing in new social networks that haven’t been mainstream into those core products. All of that is exciting because once you get to that level you start to see a lot more variety.”

Brinker also noted that not all MarTech companies are supported by venture capital:

  • 6.9 percent are enterprises, with more than 1,000 employees, or are public
  • 44.2 percent are private businesses with less than 1,000 employees, or with no funding data
  • 48.8 percent are investor-funded startups at any pre-exit stage

MarTech graphic

Playing Nice in the MarTech Market

This means more MarTech companies play nicely with each other through integrations and partnerships. When Brinker first launched the MarTech Conference in Boston in 2014, the debate was “suite versus best-of-breed.”

Marketers still face those choices today. However, Brinker found many have gone with each approach, using large suites as foundational platforms while plugging in point solutions.

Brinker said hundreds of MarTech companies orchestrate a niche set of capabilities on top of existing suite platforms in order to provide things like deeper attribution models.

“It really seems like it’s suite and best-of-breed,” Brinker said. “Maybe the suite or best-of-breed discussion is coming to an end.”

Even the large marketing clouds have become open to the idea, Brinker found. He calls this a “meaningful shift in the industry.”

Enterprise marketing cloud players have tapped into an “incredible opportunity” to show marketers they can embrace innovation, specialization and vertical solutions from a “blossoming range of marketing software extensions.”

“I kinda feel like this past year something really significantly changed,” Brinker said. “I’ve heard publicly now from pretty much all of the major marketing cloud vendors that all of a sudden the ecosystem matters to them. They’ve realized there is no way they’re going to be able to do it all themselves.”

MarTech landscape through the years.

'Progress and Disruption'

Brinker breaks down the MarTech supergraphic into six categories:

  • Advertising and promotion
  • Content and experience
  • Social and relationships
  • Commerce and sales
  • Data
  • Management

Each, he said, has seen innovations over the past year, even in the area of one of the oldest in the space: content management systems (CMS). 

Learning Opportunities

“If any one category was going to be done innovating, this would be it,” Brinker said. “But the past year has seen this explosion in headless CMS where we are really thinking about splitting content and experience. It’s stirred incredible new progress and disruption into that space using that architecture.”

Brinker said he was excited to see more technologies that aim to provide a “single view of the customer." He calls this "customer experience marketing across an incredible array of touchpoints.”

Platformization Takes Shape

The single most exciting vendor trend is platformization, he added.

Brinker splits this into three categories:

  1. Classic platforms: Based around CRM, marketing automation and content management systems, these have centralized repositories of data and services that other solutions plug into. These include Adobe, HubSpot, IBM, Marketo, Oracle, Salesforce and Sitecore.
  2. Centralized platforms: Integration-Platform-as-a-Service (iPaaS) solutions allow companies to create "distributed" platforms that dynamically pipe data between marketing applications and their own independent marketing data lakes, Brinker said. He cited Dell Boomi, Informatica, Jitterbit, Mulesoft, Segment and Zapier as iPaaS and microservice platform enablers.
  3. Data management platforms (DMP): Customer data platforms (CDPs) and real-time interaction management (RTIM) solutions land here. CDPs include firms like AgilOne, Lytics, RedPoint, Tealium, Treasure Data and Usermind. Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce all offer DMPs, but so do stand-alone vendors such as DataXu, MediaMath, Neustar, Rocketfuel, etc. RTIMs include Experian, Infor, Pegasystems, SAS and Teradata. 

Where's the Consolidation?

Don't more solutions mean more headaches for marketers? Yes. Brinker acknowledges the pain associated with finding the right MarTech solutions in a deep sea of vendors.

The growth in the market, however, is a “good thing” because it drives competition, innovation and drives down prices. He cited MailChimp’s free marketing automation platform as an example.

“All this competition should drive down prices,” Brinker said. “And while that’s been a theory and the evidence hasn’t been crystal clear for that, this year it’s changed.”

How Does He Do It?

So are there really 1,500 new MarTech companies since last year? 

"Definitely not," Brinker said.

“Of course, not all of the new companies were launched in the year in which we added them to the landscape — many had been around earlier before we discovered them,” Brinker wrote in a blog post today. "And we're quite sure that there are many others that we missed this year, too. Sorry.”

Brinker calls himself an “obsessive compulsive marketer” who “Googles the heck out of it” and finds companies through organic and paid-ad results.

He also uses crowdsourcing sites like G2 Crowd, Trust Radius and Capterra.

“A lot of these MarTech companies have been around longer and it wasn’t until this year that I discovered them,” Brinker told CMSWire. “One reason is the international players. There are some really fascinating MarTech companies growing up in Europe and Asia that we had no idea about. I just spoke to one marketing cloud player in China, and they don’t care if anyone in the US knows about them or not because the market in China is so huge for them.”