Is Mar Tech Or Ad Tech The Future? For Clues, Look To The East

mattkeiser-updated"Data-Driven Thinking" is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Matt Keiser, founder and CEO at LiveIntent.

The only way to get data to flow from marketing to advertising and back again is through an identity graph.

The Japanese were way ahead of the rest of the world when thinking about this new era in our industry. Asia was more mobile-first than the rest of the world, at an earlier point in time, so players in Asia were more likely to find new solutions.

They figured out that identity is the bridge between marketing and adverting and the solution to advertising, measurement and attribution in a mobile-first world. The Eastern market was reacting to the world that we are now starting to experience.

The Focus On Identity

In 2013, Yahoo Japan invested and partnered in BrightTag, which later became Signal, to create a data management platform (DMP) because it understood the importance of cross-channel marketing. It embraced the concept of identity before it had a name and built out an identity-driven DMP before Acxiom purchased LiveRamp, Salesforce purchased ExactTarget or Oracle purchased Responsys, BlueKai and Datalogix.

Yahoo Japan moved before Google announced CRM targeting for search and Gmail. Yahoo Japan also moved before Merkle announced a publisher-addressable marketplace for marketing to people and before IBM or Adobe really got serious.

Japanese companies realized that they needed to go beyond targeting cookies (devices) in a mobile-first world, since traditional third-party cookies don’t work across much of mobile. They understood the winning solution isn’t mar tech or ad tech but having both first-party marketing data and ad tech, united through identity, enabling people-based advertising and marketing across earned, owned and paid media.

Companies like Yahoo Japan have pioneered the use of identity and deterministic data to create an ecosystem with them at the center, dominating like perhaps no other market.

The culture lives on. Dentsu continued this tradition with its recent acquisition of Merkle. Merkle is well-known for being a master of CRM and, because of that CRM, a master of identity. Dentsu’s acquisition of Merkle, a company focused on people-based marketing, signals something new. Dentsu has figured out a better way to market and advertise to people in a mobile-first world across all media types is by investing in marketing data, the core of identity, and not in mar tech.

As East figured all of this out, agencies in the West were buying mar tech that was already antiquated and needed to be rebuilt to deliver people-based marketing across owned, earned and purchased media. Brands will demand that their data is unified through a graph to the point where advertising will become a function of the marketing stack.

The question is how will it happen? And who will move first?

Lessons From the East And The Past 

Mar tech’s gold star is its data, not its technology. Mar tech runs mainly primitive rule-based campaigns. However, we’re beginning to see glimpses of the future.

Companies like Salesforce are putting the underpinnings of rules-based mar tech marketing to death. They enable marketers to leverage dynamic audiences maintained in real time using machine learning and artificial intelligence, previously the provenance of ad tech and its sophisticated brethren.

Will Salesforce see around the corner again and leverage the vast assets already in its marketing cloud to further streamline a holistic marketing and advertising strategy to become the agency of the future?

Will Oracle merge its data cloud and its marketing cloud? It has the capability to be one of the first in the US to do both ad tech and mar tech. Oracle hasn’t yet done ad tech but could easily turn on the spigot. It has taken risks before and is among the most likely to color outside the lines. Could it be the agency of the future?

Or will the agencies of the West look East and to the marketing clouds, and change their strategy from mar tech to identity to enable people-based marketing and advertising in a mobile-first world?

In the end, we know that mar tech may not want to be ad tech because of valuation concerns. But that doesn’t mean ad tech and agencies don’t want a combined solution for servicing their customers wherever they spend time or earned, owned or paid media. I predict the winner will be the cloud or agency that succeeds in melding these worlds.

Follow Matt Keiser (@mrkeiser), LiveIntent (@LiveIntent) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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