MadTech 2017: chatbots and more

Media We Like: “MadTech 2017: Chatbots & Better Use Of Data”

What will 2017 look like in MarTech and AdTech? Here are some thoughts from others we liked. (See our 2016 recap here.)

Marketers from Virgin, IBM, Facebook and FCB Global share their predictions after an eventful year (The Drum)
“Deciphering unstructured data will be a key differentiator.” Plus, “we’ll see customer service transformed online through the proliferation of chatbots.”

Trends for 2017: AR, Chatbots, Influencers 2.0 and more (Marketing Week)
Marketing Week outlines 12 trends, predictions and issues that will gain pace over the next 12 months. More about dark social, micro-influencers and AR (The Huffington Post)

Programmatic ad-buying in 2017: What marketers should know (Marketing Tech News)
With programmatic projected to increase to $42bn in 2020, here points out 3 key trends in 2017: better use of data, programmatic creative, and bringing ad tech in-house.

The Biggest Trend In Ad Tech We’ll See In 2017: The Pay Per Transaction Model (Forbes)
In the era of Voice Search, Pay Per Impression and Pay Per Click models do not translate well here. Which is why Google are considering Pay Per Transaction, in what would be the biggest shift in advertising in years.

Survival Guide 2017: Ad Tech Turns Digital Duopoly Into Three-Way Brawl (AdAge)
Though the three tech titans have a combined market cap of $1.21 trillion, only Google is firmly entrenched among marketers’ and publishers’ automated ad deals. But the meteoric rise of header bidding has Amazon and Facebook smelling opportunity.

5 charts: Forecasting the 2017 global ad market (Digiday)
Researchers predict that digital ad spend will finally usurp TV ad spend next year. Also, mobile will take up nearly all of the global advertising growth, with social video being the major driver.

10 Digital Media and Marketing Predictions for 2017 (AdWeek)
A panel of digital marketing and technology experts shared their predictions for the future of influencer marketing, digital customer service and more.

Dorian also shared his predictions in our previous headline roundup: “It’s Everyone Against Facebook and Google. Plus, Chatbots and AI.”

(Join in! Tweet us or tell us on LinkedIn of media  you think is worth sharing.)

Image Source: GetApp Lab

Email Marketing is Hot, Again?

Email, the oldest form of modern outreach, is newly relevant as a tool of marketing communication. Truth is, it’s never really gone away, and new technological tie-ins make it more effective. At our recent breakfast event, experts discussed what makes for the best email marketing campaigns, and the automation tools that make it better.Cassie Lancellotti-Young

One of our guests, Cassie Lancellotti-Young, EVP Customer Success at Sailthru, told us why it works, the best new practices, and challenges she faces. Here are excerpts of our (email) exchange, lightly edited for clarity and space.

I.I.: Email seems “hot” again? Why?

Yes, definitely. It’s still the most effective channel to hit a consumer, and open rates are on the rise with proliferation of mobile devices and what Forrester calls the “always addressable” customer. People have been talking about the “death of email” for nearly a decade, but it has not come to fruition, and good marketers are getting smarter about targeting with personalization, predictive analytics, etc. There’s definitely been a number of new channels in the mix, but all are a complement to the email program.

Have you got some hard metrics?

More than two thirds of U.S. adults are “always addressable.” They own more than one device and are on the internet more

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WTF is MadTech

Industry Index began using the term “MadTech” as opposed to AdTech or MarTech, as these technologies began to converge and overlap. We think of MadTech as the intersection of AdTech and MarTech. So first some definitions:

The term “AdTech, which is short for advertising technology, broadly refers to different types of analytics and digital tools used in the context of advertising. Discussions about AdTech often revolve around the extensive and complex systems used to direct advertising to individuals and specific target audiences.”  Techopedia

MarTech is the blending of marketing and technology. Virtually anyone involved with digital marketing is dealing with MarTech, since digital by its very nature is technologically-based.” MarTech Today

AdTech was borne by Google. Yes, there were other companies earlier, but Google really created the category.  They figured out how to make gobs of money by leveraging their proprietary technology to sell advertising (via paid search results).  Many others have followed in their wake, but AdTech companies  make money one of two ways:

  1. They sell media married with a proprietary technology. Their income statements have a huge top line, but the next line is an expense, their Cost of Media, and usually runs 60%~90% of total revenue.  This includes DSPs, exchanges, SSPs, ad networks, retargeters and publisher optimization tools.
  2. They sell a technology based upon the number of impressions served (the CPM model).  This started with ad serving and has continued to evolve to include DMPs, creative optimization, rich media, ad verification, measurement and analytics.  (A lot of publisher-centric technologies — which we also cover under MadTech — also follow this model, sometimes counting “pageviews” or “visitors” rather than impressions.)

MarTech meanwhile is traditionally sold under a software or service contract and recently adapted to a SaaS model. It’s offered directly to brands rather than through  agencies and other intermediaries.

Another way to differentiate AdTech from MarTech is that AdTech typically targets anonymous audiences, while MarTech targets known customers.

It’s All Melding Together

Today, the distinctions among AdTech and MarTech are no longer clear.

MarTech companies are moving into the realm of AdTech.  They are actively engaging with unknown customers  (think HubSpot and Marketo, who are actively engaging in tracking anonymous website visitors while also managing known visitors). Equally importantly, MarTech is often initiating the decision to target a known or unknown user.

Retargeting, which was traditionally AdTech and therefore anonymous, is now partnering with companies that translate cookies to users, emails, and sometimes names and addresses. AdTech companies, in which we’ll include publishers, are also rapidly trying to move their business models from “media” to “technology.”

Large vendors like Adobe and Oracle have acquired AdTech companies and integrated their technologies into their other marketing technologies and built a marketing and advertising stack, effectively consolidating these categories into a unified offering.

AdTech is beginning a massive transition and likely consolidation. Some of the change is due to the preference equity investors place on “technology” over “media,” but much is due to the frustration of buyers over the lack of transparency and the clearer opportunity to create value for their clients with a “technology” sale. Of course some players, particularly publishers, still seem to prefer the “media” model, but these preferences will also evolve as publishers experience the value and increased revenue opportunities of transparent pricing.

Also, the boundaries among silos within a company are fading as new technologies are deployed. Delineation between call centers, marketing and sales used to be clear. But with a persistent user ID that follows a customer across websites, phone calls and advertisements, companies are forced create far more overlap among these formerly disparate groups.

AdTech and MarTech are becoming interchangeable terms used to describe an assortment of technologies, data sources and tools that  fundamentally focus on reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time and place.
For this reason, Industry Index has decided to call all of this technology MadTech. Now our challenge is to appropriately categorize and organize these different companies into a structure that is understood, searchable, and provides knowledge to our community.

How Ad Ops is Changing

Ad ops managers face the challenge of interacting with internal and external groups, coupled with the challenge of an evolving digital landscape and ever-changing metrics.

At PluggedIn BD’s recent roundtable discussion, industry professionals explored the current demands of ad ops and what we may see in the future.

“The job gets harder over time instead of easier, which is counter-intuitive,” said Ben Reid, CEO of Elasticiti, citing increasing demands and the difficulty of maintaining both quality and scale.

(Sign up for our next breakfast event, here, on Marketing and Email Automation. Jan 25 in New York. Use code ii17 for a 30% discount.)

There was a general consensus that the role of ad ops is changing and, to an extent, uncertain. You can read the rest here.


SpinMedia: Reena Mehta, Senior Director, Advertising Operations

Yeildmo: Dan Contento, SVP Operations

National Geographic: Eileen Moroney, Vice President, Digital Advertising Business and Operations

StudyBreak Media: Ahmed Karim, Senior Yield Operations Specialist

Merkle: Angelina Eng, VP Ad Operations

Yieldbot: Mike Siems, VP Publisher Development

Elasticiti: Ben Reid, CEO

SmartyAds: Ivan Guzenko, CEO

Jun Group: Pallavi Garg, Director, Strategy & Operations

Huddled Masses: Charles Cantu, CEO

The Year Header Bidding Went Mainstream

Media We Like: “Header Bidding & Consolidation: 2016 MadTech Recap”

This week, the I.I. team brings our collection of 2016 recaps in MarTech and AdTech. What is going to happen in 2017? Stay tuned next week.  (See our previous headline roundup here.)

Digital advertising: Where we are now and where we’re headed (The Drum) – Dec. 15, 2016
There’s one theme that unifies much of what happened in ad tech over the past year: change. Header bidding was, without a doubt, the top trend of the year. And other keywords are video and consolidation.

The Year Header Bidding Went Mainstream (AdExchanger) – Dec 27, 2016
A timeline listing what the major players did in each month.

M&A 2016: The Year Ad Tech Cautiously Rose Again (AdExchanger) – Dec. 30, 2016
Ad tech M&A has been a roller coaster in recent years, and 2016 certainly didn’t let up. In 2015, public and private marketplace sentiment cooled, but 2016 saw a resurgence – albeit a much more cautious one than in years past.

Why 2016 Was The Beginning of The End of The Current Ad Tech Cycle (ExchangeWire) – Dec. 23, 2016
There is a sense in the industry that there needs to be a ‘clear out’ of the current crop of programmatic vendors – beginning from Adobe’s acquisition of TubeMogul to the coming AppNexus IPO.

The Year in Technology: 2016 in Charts (Bloomberg Gadfly) – Dec 30, 2016
Advertising becomes a two-horse race as Google and Facebook accounted for 58% US digital ad revenue in 2016.

10 Media and Advertising Predictions That Didn’t Come True in 2016 (The Wall Street Journal) – Dec 29, 2016
Things that didn’t happen like “the ad tech sector would be decimated”; “TV advertising, like it always had, would help decide the election”; and “media metrics would get solved.”

(Join in! Tweet us or tell us on LinkedIn some media of interest that you think is worth sharing.)

Image Source: AdExchanger

Researching Whether Research Works

Maybe it seems circular and just a wee bit self-serving to do research that proves the worth of the research we do.

But have you seen our research paper that shows technology buyers think research-based content works better than all other forms of MadTech marketing?

We gathered our data by surveying 164 advertising and brand marketing experts from our inimitable panel of 45,000 execs in advertising, brand marketing and publishing. A sub-group answered follow-up interview questions.

We were surprised by the conclusions they gave us.

We had expected research to come up relatively high on the list of techniques marketers of MadTech should use to reach and influence prospects and generate leads. After all, if you’ve got data to support your assertions, you’re making a stronger case than just saying how great you are or writing fluff.

Plus, crafted well and distributed deftly, research-based content will attract the right kinds of people just as they need the kinds of help you can give them. If nothing else, you look smart, which can’t hurt (unless you’re in a really mean school cafeteria). Over time, research-based content adds up to more leads, more sales and better customers.

Still, we thought buyers of media, advertising and marketing technologies might prefer the high-touch of trade shows or maybe the expediency of emails. They told us, instead, that vendors should lead with research-based content, and use that content to support the shows, newsletters and other forms of outreach.

We lay out the data, our analysis, and more ways you can exploit research-based content in the paper, which you can download for free here, and then also get the underlying data. We’ll present some of the findings at our upcoming breakfast roundtable with PluggedIn BD, all about marketing and email automation. (Discount code “ii17,” for 30% off.)

Oh, and by the way, one of the illustrious sources we interviewed for the study said that research-based content works even when it IS self-serving. So, there.

BIG DATA–The New Monopoly

mo-nop-o-ly (noun) –the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or service.

Generally speaking, monopolies are considered bad for the economy and the consumer.  Two of the most easily remembered monopolies are the original AT&T and Standard Oil.  AT&T was given its monopolistic status by the government, whereas Standard Oil, achieved it through business practices. In both cases, the government eventually broke up these monopolies, and innovation, lower prices, and competition thrived.

Data is the new and most leverageable monopoly commodity!  Big Data companies are successfully creating barriers to entry that stifle competition and create a new type of moat around their success.  Unlike traditional analog monopolies, the marginal cost of a new customer is effectively zero.  No new plants to build, no distribution costs, no new staff to hire (yes, there is a real cost to building and running these data centers, but the costs of that technology continues to drop rapidly).

Today, it appears that some of the largest consumer data aggregators — Google, Amazon, Apple, Facebook, etc. — have emerged as near-monopolies in their ability to collect data and insights about consumers.  Facebook, as one example, built its business on an advertising model, but its real value is data targeting.  It has more and better data about most people (at least in the U.S.)  than almost anyone else.  The more users Facebook engages, the lower Facebook’s data acquisition costs and the higher their value. Amazon has a similarly unique data set as the largest online retailer in the U.S., Google as the dominant search engine, video platform (YouTube) mobile OS (Android), and ad platform (DoubleClick). Apple, through iOS. The other two companies that might be thrown in the mix are AT&T Wireless (thanks to Apple, by the way) and Verizon Wireless (along with its acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo), which have the two largest databases of mobile IDs in the country.

However, our governmental institutions today are ill-equipped to respond to the challenges of global companies growing at exponential rates. Traditionally, the value of a company was built on a combination of intellectual property and physical assets (plants, trucks, machines, etc.). The physical assets were often developed and acquired based upon the underlying intellectual property (think patents).  Today, it still takes around three years to get a patent, but companies’ ability to leverage intellectual property can happen in a few years or even months.  As an example, Uber burst on the scene with its founding as Uber Cab in 2009, and reached a valuation at $3.5 billion in 2013. Had they waited for a patent approval, they would have missed the market opportunity.

Does It Matter?

Each of the big data competitors has emerged with a unique opportunity to collect more and better data and then sell that data to advertisers. Does it matter?

The short answer is yes, it matters. These giant data aggregators are already dominating the ability to leverage data to more effectively to target an ad.  But the insidious part is their ability to disaggregate a supplier from a buyer.  Companies like Amazon or Facebook know (or infer) not just who you are but what you are like. They know not only where you are but they can guess where you are going. They don’t just know what you are doing right now — they have a pretty good idea why you are doing it. And they make excellent guesses about what you will do next, guesses that grow more accurate as you go about your daily life while being carefully observed by the data giants. Amazon is already adjusting its pricing algorithm in real time. Amazon can charge one individual a different amount than another. Since the acquisition costs of many products are pre-negotiated, when it chooses to increase a price, the incremental margin remains with Amazon. Additionally, Amazon knows more about the value of a product than the manufacturer.  Therefore, Amazon can negotiate the price for every item and drive down manufacturers’ margin.

They have users’ shopping data, now married to zip code (which tends to indicate income levels) and to family members (if you set up “sub-accounts” on Prime). Amazon acquires age and demographic information, and if they want to, Amazon can purchase your credit score and other available data to provide a fuller view of a consumer. They can successfully charge you more than the next buyer for something they’re confident you want, like that “soon to obsoleted” piece of technology.

In the narrow confines of online advertising and commerce, combining some of these data clearly makes marketing more efficient by improving targeting, and by identifying and eliminating the famed half of the marketing budget that is wasted. As HBR noted:

“Marketers have trained their big-data telescopes at a single point: predicting each customer’s next transaction. In pursuit of this prize marketers strive to paint an ever more detailed portrait of each consumer, memorizing her media preferences, scrutinizing her shopping habits, and cataloging her interests, aspirations and desires. The result is a detailed, high-resolution close-up of each customer that reveals her next move”.

We have reached an inflection point.  Data are ubiquitous, and the marriage of data from multiple sources is commonplace. We are witnessing the transition from from data improving efficiency, to data becoming a strategy, to data becoming a barrier to entry (monopoly)!

Today, data is a strategy, and we need to start thinking about it as one. While scale is always a source of leverage for a supplier, with data the marginal acquisition cost is near zero and the benefit to data aggregators grows exponentially with each incremental data element. Data should adhere to the same competitive standards as other business strategies. Data monopolists’ ability to block competitors from entering the market is not markedly different from that of the oil monopolist Standard Oil or the telecommunications monopolist AT&T.

The real problem is that our institutions are still moving at the speed of analog while our economy is literally moving at the speed of light. The actions and behaviors of these companies is rational and so far seemingly legal, but left unchecked they will become egregious. Data corrupts and absolute data corrupts absolutely.

Our New Study: Research-Based Content Works

Today, we’re releasing our proprietary study that finds that research-based content works best for generating interest in MadTech. Here’s the news:

News Release

Research-Based Content Is The Most Effective Way to Reach Executives

Technology Decision Makers Prefer Data-Driven, Useful Information

January 13, 2017

NEW YORK — Research-based content is the best way to reach and influence advertising and marketing executives considering technology purchases. Data-driven content elicits the highest level of response, they say.

The executives say they want content that’s useful, relevant and tells them something new. Providing that kind of content will get them to look for, find and do business with technology vendors who provide it, they add.

These are some of the findings of an Industry Index survey of leading marketing and advertising executives.

“The conclusion, frankly, was unexpected,” says Industry Index CEO Jonathon Shaevitz. “We knew research-based content was useful but didn’t realize it would come in on top, above trade shows and even press coverage” as a marketing vehicle.

David Berkowitz, founding principal of Serial Marketer and former CMO of digital advertising agency MRY, concurs: “If there’s someone that’s actually trying to help me do my job better in some way, then that goes a really long way.”

Review copies of the survey and data, complete with charts and graphs, as well as a research paper summarizing its findings, are available from Industry Index at this link (PDF download). The full findings, comments and interview transcripts are available upon request.

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About Industry Index


* Industry Index has been conducting research in MadTech (AdTech + MarTech) for five years. Customers include PubMatic, Rocket Fuel, Tapad, MarketShare, BrightRoll and many others. We conduct exceptional industry-focused benchmark studies, brand reviews, and create data-driven thought-leadership content. Our research and surveys emerge from the Industry Index, which tracks the entire MadTech landscape via reviews and our proprietary panel.


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Name: Melody Terng


Phone: 626-247-1318


a man looking at laptop

Media We Like: “Data, clarifying lens or shenanigans?”

Here come the I.I. team’s picks for the week. (See our previous headline roundup here.)

Fake it till you make it’: Confessions of a recovering ad tech executive (Digiday) – Jan. 10, 2017
(From Dorian) “Almost all of the tech startups feel like, we’ll fake it until we have enough scale or data or algorithms get smarter.” Until then, it’s “shenanigans.”

Axios launches newsletters, gearing up toward a full-fledged site just in time for the Trump administration (Nieman Journalism Lab) – Jan. 9, 2017
(From Dorian) “We also want to make sure we reach the universe of serious news readers, anyone who on a daily basis consumes serious news. We think that’s roughly 15 to 20 percent of the adult population.”

Forecasts: Programmatic, Native on the up (BizReport) – Dec. 6, 2016
(From Mark C.) There’s a 15% to 20% increase in programmatic display pricing as we head toward 2018. And it is believed the next five years will show strong growth for native formats, with social helping to push growth.

2016 Marketing Technology Landscape ( – March 2016
(From Jonathon) So packed that you have to zoom in and zoom in to see a clear company logo.

Publishers are using their newsletters as labs for new offerings (Digiday) – Nov. 2, 2016
(From Chris) Newsletter subscribers are disproportionately loyal readers, which makes them an ideal group to test ideas on.

EU Proposes New Rules That Could Limit Web Tracking for Ads (The Wall Street Journal) – Jan. 10, 2017
(From Melody) Users would have to consent to website cookies. Potentially hitting the bottom line for big online ad brokers like Google and Facebook.

(Join in! Tweet us or tell us on LinkedIn some media of interest that you think is worth sharing.)

Tension Between Marketing and Editorial Content

The Tension Between Marketing and Editorial Content

Technology companies often want to be seen as authoritative “thought leaders,” believing (correctly) that useful, original content that demonstrates their intelligence accrues to their benefit.

They hope to become a go-to source whose expertise attracts, engages and retains customers impressed by their smarts.

One great way to be seen as smart is for executives to earn bylined placement in leading publications. The best publications want to serve and engage their communities while generating attention. They succeed over time by informing, delighting, amusing, educating, and in the best cases enticing people to share content that further spreads the editorial brand.

The publishers vary in their needs but invariably have editorial standards requiring content submitted for editorial consideration be:

  • New. (Provide real information, data, a fresh perspective.)
  • Interesting. (Be cogent, inviting, intriguing.)
  • Agnostic. (Don’t overtly sell a company’s products or services.)
  • Strong. (Take a position. Make a case. Don’t pull punches.)
  • Controversial. This one isn’t actually required, but eliciting emotion and response can help get a piece accepted.

Those editorial mandates may not align with imperatives of marketers who want to avoid taking risks or causing discomfort. They can have trouble seeing the value of content that doesn’t directly align with messaging they’ve devised for a brand.

A client recently asked me to conceive some op-eds that leading business publications might accept. I based one tempting proposal on ground-breaking posits from one of their executives about how publishers can succeed in a world of automation and social media. The client so far has hesitated to green light the proposal.

The article would show them willing to take a stand for their industry, without surety they’ll generate more sales from the piece. It would demonstrate their willingness to be bold and forward-thinking. It would, in other words, show thought leadership.

Thought leadership requires just that: thoughts and leadership. Being a real leader means being out front and taking risks. As with all risks, there are potential downsides. There is also the potential for big rewards.