Skills shortages, cross-functional challenges and an upcoming cookieless world are shaping the future of martech.
As we head into 2023, it will be important for martech leaders to have a firm handle on new adtech and commerce technologies, to address data privacy changes and to devise strategies to ensure closer collaboration with IT.
Emphasis on First-Party Data
Katrina Wong, vice president of marketing for Twilio Segment, said marketing teams best prepare for a cookieless future by implementing the right marketing technology stack to support a first-party data strategy. She added the truth is that marketers have long wanted to use first-party data but have lacked the tools to properly manage it.
“Yet those tools exist now and we’re approaching the ban on third-party cookies, and 81% of businesses are still dependent on them," Wong said. "The transition from third- to first-party data isn’t easy and the sooner marketers develop a first-party data strategy, the better.”
Benjamin Bloom, vice president and analyst in the Gartner marketing practice, advised marketing teams to embrace the idea that martech and adtech are diverging, rather than converging.
"The cookie was often a bridge — if a poor one — between these two worlds, but at the same time encouraged data collection without consideration of how or even whether the data would be used," he explained. "Now, audiences are much more aware of their privacy interests and have higher expectations to match — as do increasingly active regulators."
Marketers should use this opportunity to think about what data they actually need and consider pausing the collection of data their teams collect but haven’t used.
“Match the granularity of the data you collect with the value you provide to your audience, and ensure you are testing new behavioral and contextual capabilities as they become available, to build your knowledge and identify potential winners,” he said.
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Changes to CMO Teams
Bloom added that changes must come to the CMO team and structure from the need to treat the martech stack itself as a product.
He pointed out 57 % of respondents to the Gartner 2022 Martech survey said they use a formal martech roadmap, but in many organizations, the grand strategic vision fails for lack of quick wins through experimentation to drive real-world validation.
"It’s only after teams put technology solutions to work that they can deliver the business capabilities that drive marketing outcomes, and on which leaders are measured," he said.
He added that although marketing teams are claiming increasing ownership of martech activities, 64 percent of martech leaders agree that their team lacks technical skills and receives insufficient support to increase the use of their martech stack.
“CMOs should establish a clear digital vision with their CIO counterparts to ensure everyone is on the same page, allowing teams to focus on the work, instead of who reports to whom,” he explained.
He's also seeing a rise in "fusion teams" in which blended business and technical resources work in a highly networked fashion, leveraging product management techniques rather than linear project management.
"The highest performing digital teams aren’t hamstrung by risk management — they are highly connected to empowered stakeholders who can make exceptions to or change governance policies," Bloom said.
Instead of being told a dead-end “no” and wasting months of work, the teams that find a way to say “yes” will unlock faster and greater ROI when configuring, integrating or customizing martech solutions.
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Fostering Consumer Trust, Building Brand Equity
Ian Clayton, chief product officer at Redpoint Global, said to differentiate in a cookieless world, it will be the companies that prioritize building brand equity that will be most effective at fostering consumer trust.
“These businesses know that poor usage and accountability of data will cause their brand equity and trust among consumers to decrease," he said. “With this in mind, brands should pay closer attention to the use of, protection of and the stewardship of their customer data.”
That means marketing teams will need to set the standard by ensuring all customer data never leaves the control of the organization, becoming increasingly reluctant to push it out to managed services.
Bloom predicted behavioral or contextual targeting approaches will rise in significance, while data collaboration technologies such as data clean rooms enable large advertisers to match large personal identifying information-based datasets to those of their publishing partners with greater privacy protections.
“In 2023, the adtech world will increasingly be driven by programmatic segment-based advertising (PSBA) targeting approaches, which allow advertisers to target and measure digital ad campaigns using IDs that represent defined clusters of users rather than individuals,” he said.
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Practicing Data-Driven Marketing
Wong said now that customer data is in the marketing department’s domain, CMOs and other leaders need to ensure every member of their team buys-in on the value of data and is practicing true data-driven marketing.
“Today’s teams need to understand how to leverage customer data differently than they have in the past — moving beyond running campaign reports to acting on customer data in real-time to deliver personalized experiences,” she said.
Clayton added that with their responsibilities becoming more intertwined than ever, marketing and IT teams must work together to deliver the best customer experience possible.
“From finding a means to removing siloes to creating a ‘golden record’ or single point-of-truth for all customer data, these teams must work together to establish a holistic view of each individual customer that can allow for even more tailored personalization and real-time looks at a customer’s journey,” he said.
From Clayton's perspective, building lasting customer relationships today requires the most accurate real-time customer data accessible through a continually updated single customer view, which can only be achieved when marketing and IT teams work together.
Bloom said marketing leaders should look to retail media networks, identity resolution and data clean room technologies as fertile sources of experimentation as they seek to control their own destiny in a world of more fallible identifiers.
“Still, these investments in identity resolution or data clean rooms aren’t for the faint of heart,” he cautioned. “They are costly and require advanced data engineering and compliance oversight.”