The Big Bang Theory of MarTech

 In Marketing Operations

To begin, I have to admit I’m somewhat of a nerd and have a healthy obsession with the universe. So for this article, I’m going draw a few comparisons between the martech universe and that of our own.

Our Current State

In 2012, there were roughly 350 marketing technology vendors. Five years later, there are nearly 4,000. There are several factors that this “big bang” can be attributed to – advances in sectors like AI, predictive analytics, and personalization have certainly played their part, and recently ABM has had a role as well.

However, my theory is more brutish: Put simply, there is a significant amount of money to be made in the martech space. One estimate suggests that by 2018, spending on marketing technologies will hit $32.3 billion.

With billions of dollars of budget across the industry, it should come as no surprise that martech would experience a period of inflation.

On one hand, the emergence of new vendors has allowed marketers to make great strides in how we as a collective industry are able to execute on objectives. We have become pioneers, exploring new ways to collect, analyze, and utilize data.

For the first time, attribution tools are accurately showing us where our dollars are most effective, and generally speaking, it has allowed us as marketers to do our jobs better.

On the other hand, it has paved the road to new challenges and confusion. In a recent survey by Gartner, they found that the average company had 22 martech platforms/tools in their stack. Effectively using this amount of technology, managing dashboards, and ensuring proper integrations across platforms can become a daunting task for even the most veteran marketer.

Evolution Through Consolidation

Three seconds after the Big Bang, protons, neutrons, and electrons came together to form the nuclei of basic elements. Millions of years after that, stars and galaxies formed. Trillions upon trillions of individual “pieces” began to come together, creating larger pieces until billions of years later the modern universe comprised of galaxies, solar systems, stars, planets, and life took shape.

In this transitional phase, martech vendors will merge and acquire one another until this extremely crowded space is reduced and a point a stability and sustainability is reached, ultimately allowing for a more effective execution of marketing goals. Recently, we’ve seen this with Hootsuite’s acquisition of AdEspresso in early February, followed by LiftMetrix just two weeks later.

Marketers will finally be able to better implement technologies and focus on strategy, rather than being in a relatively constant state of discovery, always searching for the next best piece of tech. The solutions that remain will be widely implemented resulting in better integrations and user experiences. They will also provide marketers peace of mind in knowing that these surviving technologies are around for one reason – they are stronger and more effective than those that fell by the wayside.

The Aftermath

The violence and volatility that gave birth to our universe was followed by order. Yes, there will always be tribulations just as our universe experiences cataclysmic events (think of the dinosaurs), but as a whole, things are relatively peaceful.

During this time, we can expect to see major players in the martech space offering a multitude of solutions. Having acquired and absorbed smaller, more specialized entities, they will be able to offer a la carte solutions and architect programs to fit specific needs. Marketers will be able to piece together technology stacks based on their strategy, allowing them to more effectively deliver on their KPIs and support their organizations.

As an industry, we are still a ways away from “The Aftermath,” but 2017 is likely to be the year in which we see consolidation take a noticeable foothold. Though this change and shift in the marketplace will be disruptive and at times painful, I encourage everyone to seek out the light at the end of the tunnel and get excited about what the future holds for us as marketers.