Imagine a super machine that is constantly amassing new parts to increase its power, but each one is made by a different manufacturer and comes with its own instructions. Before long, managing the mechanisms becomes so mystifying the whole thing slows to a crawl, yet without the ability to identify what is working and what isn’t, the source of the fault is hard to find.

An example of such a case in action is the challenges currently facing the marketing and advertising industries as they try to reconcile a vast range of disparate technology solutions.

Each addition to the adtech and martech landscape enables brands to achieve greater relevance, scale and engagement, but also spreads performance data, customer insights and budgets across a myriad of disjointed systems — making it difficult to measure overall success and the value of each tool. According to a report by the Winterberry Group, the average brand marketer utilises more than 12 unique tools on a regular basis and some use over 31 per campaign.

So, how can brands break down these silos to ensure every aspect of their campaigns is unified and impactful? To start with, we’ll lift the hood on the inner workings of adtech and martech to see exactly what they do, why it matters, and how they differ.

Martech: insight and personalisation

The core function of most marketing technology platforms is providing brands with the means to better understand and engage their audiences. Principally used to enhance customer relationship management, these tools can pull together multiple sources of consumer information and turn the disordered mass into usable insights that drive many personalised communications — such as direct mail, prospect profiling, omni-channel marketing, email, and tailored deals.

When operations are smooth, the benefits for brands and consumers can be great. Armed with a comprehensive view of what their customers and prospects want, brands can personalise messages to ensure they are relevant. This in turn makes consumers more likely to remain loyal to the brand, opt-in to communications, and be receptive to product suggestions — significantly expanding opportunities for cross-selling and up-selling.

Yet marketing technologies have their failings. As solutions are usually more complex than adtech, integration is longer and requires extensive change management, which can slow adoption. What’s more, their tendency to operate separately from advertising activity also means it can be difficult for brands to measure performance and track conversions.

Adtech: sophisticated targeting and delivery

For brands, the biggest attraction of adtech solutions is their ability to transform the scope and effectiveness of campaign targeting. Where once, digital advertising was limited to direct deals between buyers and publishers that focused on simple targeting elements — such as gender, age and income — the rise of anonymous user-generated data has opened up a new world of precise targeting, and an array of automated delivery methods.

Using smart adtech software, brands can identify their ideal audience and target messages according to past purchases, individual interests, brand engagement and psychographics. They can also serve messages that instantly reach specific users on the most appropriate channel and at the best time to elicit a positive response — boosting interactions and revenue.

Integration is simple and fast, which makes adtech solutions appealing for any brand and means every aspect of campaigns can be set up quickly — including measurement of the site visits, clicks and conversions they produce. Yet once more we encounter the issue of silos. Tracking is frequently restricted to the confines of each solution and dependent on last-touch attribution, which allocates conversion credit to the most recent interaction — giving brands an incomplete view of the impact of each interaction along the customer journey and whether it can be improved.

What benefits can consolidation bring?

It’s clear that as independent mechanisms, martech and adtech solutions are not short of unique benefits and capabilities. There is, however, a limit to what they can do in isolation — especially when it comes to providing the performance insights brands need to adapt and optimise their campaigns. The best way for brands to achieve ultimate effectiveness is to combine these two different forces through attribution into one streamlined machine.

For those not yet convinced, here are three reasons why consolidation via attribution is the best way forward:

Combining abilities will ensure greater understanding: At present the data generated by campaign tracking is locked inside a network’s separate systems, making both access and interpretation problematic. But if brands use attribution to bring together disparate data from all platforms — martech and adtech alike — they will at last be able to identify which parts of the overall machine are working, and which are not.

Maximising budget allocation and reduce wastage: Armed with an all-encompassing view of the marketing and advertising techniques that produce the best results, brands can build a firm foundation for efficient strategy. Using this detailed insight, they will have the means to pinpoint areas that would benefit from further investment and those that should be discontinued to save costs.

Improving future targeting and resonance: By drawing together a vast and ever-growing pool of insights from multiple areas, brands can not only gain an understanding of performance but use this to enhance future efforts. Over time, advertising and marketing data will reveal trends in audience behaviour that can be used to predict which purchase or interaction is coming next, so brands can target consumers with messages that anticipate their needs before they are even aware of them. Furthermore, analysis of previous campaigns against current messages may prove invaluable for keeping content consistently relevant and inspiring.

For today’s brands, navigating the complicated assembly of individual systems that make up marketing and advertising machines is a mystifying task that can be a sizeable barrier to campaign success — and as more new tools arise, the situation is likely to get worse.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. By uniting adtech and martech solutions through attribution, brands can close the chasm in campaign management and achieve unprecedented efficiency. With the advanced audience understanding and targeting abilities that consolidation brings, brands can build a machine that not only runs harmoniously, but without a hitch.

Ben Samuel

Ben Samuel


Ben Samuel, VP Sales at Nielsen Marketing Effectiveness..