Opinions about the current and future state of Ad Tech & MarTech are as varied as the technologies, services and players that populate these complex ecosystems.
There’s plenty of evidence that Ad Tech & MarTech have hit turbulent times – from consolidation by players like Adobe, Oracle and Neustar to increased competition and lack of transparency about fees. Venture funding is reportedly drying up and many Ad Tech stocks have suffered.
But many believe the death knell for Ad Tech & MarTech is premature – or as Julie Langley, a Partner at Results International said, “Adtech isn’t in trouble – it’s just misunderstood.” Digital marketing and advertising budgets are on the rise. According to The Global Review of Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising, a report put out by GDMA and Winterberry Group, 63 percent of panelists reported that their data-driven marketing and advertising spend grew in 2015. 73 percent expected that budgets would rise again in 2016.
As a software development company specializing in building custom marketing and advertising platforms, we have a unique vantage point on where things stand and where they’re headed. But we’re also avid learners – eager to hear what other industry insiders and experts have to say. To capture some of these different viewpoints, we’re launching a new blog series where leaders at brands, agencies and tech companies will opine about their use of Ad Tech & MarTech today and what’s to come.
We kick things off with Clearcode’s own CEO and co-founder Maciej Zawadziński.
1. Can you tell us a bit about your expertise in the Ad Tech & MarTech industry?
I’ve been involved in the Ad Tech and MarTech industry for over 10 years. I started out as a developer working on my own advertising network startup, where I built the in-house technology that powered the ad network.
My business partner, Dominik Jendroszczyk, and I sold that startup and then founded our current company, Clearcode – a software development house that specializes in Ad Tech and MarTech development.
We started Clearcode in 2009 with the intention of building software for clients operating in the advertising, analytics, and marketing industries, as we had experience in these areas and wanted to apply our skills and knowledge on a much larger scale.
Apart from our Ad Tech and MarTech development services, we also offered consulting and custom development services to customers of Piwik – the leading open-source analytics platform. We discovered Piwik when we had our advertising network. At the time we was looking for an analytics platform that we could integrate into our ad network, as we didn’t want to build one from scratch. Piwik was in the very early stages of development, but it had a good foundation. I started contributing to the Piwik project and soon after that I joined the core team. Then in 2013, Clearcode launched Piwik PRO – a company that provides cloud hosting and enterprise services to users of Piwik.
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I’m an avid fan of all things Ad Tech, MarTech, and analytics. I not only enjoy reading about the latest trends and news from the advertising and marketing industries, but I also like learning how these complex technologies work. Over the years, I’ve created a large, accessible knowledge base of resources (e.g. posts, infographics, etc.) that help explain, in easy-to-understand terms, how the various technologies and processes work. These resources are published on the Clearcode blog and on other media sites. You can connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter.
2. What specifically does your company do, and how does it fit into the larger digital marketing picture?
As mentioned above, Clearcode specializes in building enterprise-grade SaaS and custom analytics for the advertising and marketing industries. We don’t consider ourselves a generic software development company, which means we attract a lot of clients who require specific skills and experience to build custom and quality Ad Tech and MarTech platforms and applications.
We’re an established company with 100+ employees working in our offices in Europe and the U.S. We have over seven years of experience in Ad Tech and MarTech development and have worked with companies of all sizes – from startups to corporations.
Apart from building software for our clients, we’ve also founded a few Ad Tech and MarTech companies of our own.
The first company Clearcode founded was Piwik PRO (mentioned above in the previous section).
We then founded Kanary NEST – a demand-side platform (DSP) that was acquired by Gravity4 in August, 2014.
And more recently, we founded 7suite – a fully customizable Data management stack for Ad Tech & MarTech companies, ad agencies, publishers, and app developers. 7suite consists of a DMP (data management platform), tag manager, and content personalization engine, all which can be tailored to the specific needs of each client or end user.
We’re in the process of recruiting members for our Early Adopters Program – companies that will be the first users of 7suite. To date, we’ve received quite a lot of interest in 7suite and have already added a number of companies to our Early Adopters Program, but there is still a few available places for companies wanting to take advantage of this opportunity. To find out more about 7suite’s Early Adopters Program, please contact the team at [email protected]
With regard to how we fit into the larger digital marketing picture, I’d say that we are what every company needs when building a new Ad Tech or MarTech solution, and that is a team that can provide the expertise, skills, first hand industry experience, and resources needed to build and grow successful software. Our position is also quite unique, in the sense that we can work with all kinds of companies in the Ad Tech and MarTech spaces – from building custom platforms for advertising agencies to help them take their media buying in-house, through to helping Ad Tech companies expand their client offer by building upon their existing solutions.
3. As a B2B company building marketing and advertising software, what does your own marketing stack look like?
Our marketing team utilizes a number of various marketing and advertising tools and platforms on a daily basis.
We group our tools and marketing platform in accordance with our sales process. We use a different set of tools for lead acquisition, a different set for lead nurturing, and we also have different tools for outbound marketing and direct sales. For example, at the top of our sales funnel we use LinkedIn Ads and AdWords to promote our content, Marketo to capture new leads, and WordPress to help us to manage our content and optimize it. Going down the funnel, you will see that the tools change and we start using tools like Salesforce and SalesLoft to help our sales team close more deals. Apart from the sales process, we use MarTech tools to support our marketing team’s daily work – ie. 7tag for marketing tag management, and Optimizely and Crazy Egg for UX and CRO tasks.
We recently created an illustration to visually represent the marketing and advertising tools and platforms we use here at Clearcode for the Stackie Awards from chiefmartech. The illustration contains our current marketing and advertising stack:
You’ll notice that we use the tools we’ve built ourselves (Piwik PRO and 7tag) and will add 7suite to the list in early April once 7data and 7ad are released.
4. What do you see as the single most disruptive force coming to the world of Ad Tech & MarTech?
The Ad Tech and MarTech worlds are getting more and more integrated. The data sets landing in the hands of marketers are richer than ever before, and the possibilities of delivering personalized one-to-one marketing and advertising is getting greater with every passing year.
Also, there’s more data coming to the ecosystem via offline channels (e.g. new data points coming from beacons and from data onboarding) so I believe this will also change the way advertisers and marketers look at data and how it can be applied to their online campaigns.
Over the years there have been a number of mergers and acquisitions, but I predict that we’ll see even more M&As in the coming years and an overall consolidation of various tools and platforms that will result in complete and advanced marketing and advertising technology stacks.
5. What in your opinion are the biggest challenges that the Ad Tech & MarTech industry face?
We see a lot of frustration from the consumer perspective.
For example, one main challenge publishers are fighting against on a daily basis is high adblock adoption rate.
At the same time, it seems self-regulation in the industry has failed, at least to some extent, and the regulators are taking action by introducing new laws (such as the FTC on native advertising, or the EU invalidating the safe harbour treaty, and the upcoming new privacy laws taking effect in 2018 regulating when data can and cannot be used for marketing & advertising purposes).
6. There are thousands of companies in the Ad Tech & MarTech industry and the whole ecosystem gets more complex every year. Do you have any recommendations for marketers how to navigate this space and choose the right vendor?
It’s definitely challenging to stay up-to-date with technology stacks, but my advice would be to learn a lot about the solutions so that you can ask the right questions when talking to a potential vendor.
Here’s a short checklist you can use when searching for a new vendor:
- Competent staff and support that can help you during the implementation.
- Get to know the technology and make sure you focus on what you want to achieve with it, not the “nice-to-haves”.
- Take into consideration the data privacy and security factors. Pay special attention to the privacy regulations that are enforced in the markets where your company operates and/or where your clients are, as well as where you’re incorporated (the latter alone won’t be enough).
- Run a proof of concept and make sure the vendor’s tech delivers!
Insider’s View is a Q&A series where leaders at brands, agencies and tech companies opine about their use of Ad Tech & MarTech today and what’s to come.