Getting a Grip on the MarTech Ecosystem


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Never has the Marketing Technology (MarTech) ecosystem been so big or complex.

The numbers speak for themselves – over 1800 vendors scattered over 43 different categories. And growing.

It’s enough make any CMO’s head spin.

In such a vast landscape, it’s no wonder that marketers are often paralyzed by the frighteningly broad range of platforms and solutions to choose from when building a marketing stack.

Disorientation or disinformation can lead to hasty and ill-informed decisions or even worse – reticence in management to adopt badly-needed technology solutions to keep marketing departments up-to-speed, a problem highlighted by over half the respondents in a WalkerSands Communications study.

In this series of posts, we will take a closer look at the MarTech landscape, providing insights into its evolution and feature some of the up-and-coming players in key areas.

Why has the MarTech ecosystem gotten so big?

Marketing messages are inherently tied to the mediums through which they are conveyed. In that respect, technology hasn’t changed a thing.

But unlike the dominant mass mediums of the past – TV and print media – the internet, powered by PC’s and now mobile devices, is a user-centered, personalized medium. People choose what they read, watch and interact with rather than submit passively to waves of content designed for the masses.

The vast (and growing) reach of the internet – coupled with an exploding world population and the individualistic nature of consumer behaviour online – has given rise to needs that only technology solutions can provide.

And as they say – necessity is the mother of invention.

Besides, with the World Wide Web as massive as it is, the possibilities for marketers to reach consumers are almost endless.

And herein lies one key to understanding the rapid expansion of marketing technology: the fluid, creative, innovative nature of marketing and marketing tools themselves.

As MarTech guru Scott Brinker has pointed out very adeptly – marketing software lacks the stability and standardization inherent in other corporate functions such as manufacturing and finance.

This opens the door for any number of startups – or anyone with an innovative idea – to jump in with a product for any one of the over 130 different areas of marketing. Hence the explosion of vendors offering solutions for everything from social media ads to loyalty programs to mobile web analytics. No wonder MarTech companies have seen over $130 billion worth of investment over the last 5 years, including a record $47 billion in 2015.

There is another factor as well.

In-House Marketing Drives Increase in Vendors

While tech advances to meet the new demands of the digital marketplace are perhaps the strongest driving force behind the growth of the MarTech ecosystem, the burgeoning array of solutions being offered is also a side effect of brands’ move away from marketing agencies.

What is behind this trend? Two words: customer experience.

As marketers lean more and more on personalized customer experiences to cement the connection between consumers and their brands, there is growing concern that marketing agencies aren’t agile enough to exploit customer data in real time and thus remain effectively close to target audiences.

Therefore companies increasingly prefer to build larger in-house marketing teams, focus on better reacting to consumer needs, while keeping tighter control on their customer data.

This has two effects:

  • Marketers working in-house, especially those with little technical background, need easy-to-use tools, such as tag and data management platforms, that require a minimal learning curve and little upkeep. This has fueled a rapid expansion of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solutions for marketing needs.
  • Brands increasingly want tools that meet their specific needs, not generic solutions built for a wide range of products and services. More customization means more vendors (in particular startups), offering more products, making the landscape even bigger.

Challenges and Opportunities

Far from being a cause for frustration or intimidation, the expanding MarTech ecosystem is actually a boon for both vendors and customers. That’s not to say it is doesn’t present challenges.

For sure there lots of choices for marketers. And it takes time and a little research to build an efficient, effective stack. But this also presents a great opportunity for enterprises to get exactly the right fit, when it comes to selecting the tools they need for their particular field. Ultimately this will help them be more responsive to trends and consumer needs.

There are also exciting opportunities for MarTech companies and startups with the drive to build platforms to address specific pain points. As the internet and technology continue to expand and evolve, so will the opportunities on all fronts.

Have an idea for a new or improved MarTech solution? Want to take it to market quickly and smoothly? Contact us to see how we can help you!

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Mike Sweeney

Head of Marketing

“The AdTech Book is the result
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