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Scott BrinkerCo-Founder and Chief Technology Officerion interactive
Now that more marketers are taking technology into their own hands, it’s crucial that they stay up to date on the ever-expanding space. eMarketer’s Bryan Yeager spoke with Scott Brinker, co-founder and chief technology officer at interactive content software provider ion interactive and editor of the Chief Marketing Technologist blog, to get his latest take on what’s new and what’s changing in marketing technology.
eMarketer: How did marketing technology evolve in 2015?
Scott Brinker: One of the dominant themes was that marketers looked to collapse their technology into suites from the likes of Adobe, Oracle and others. I hear now from a lot of quadrants that marketers are largely going with a heterogeneous approach. They’re trying to rationalize their marketing stacks and cutting down the random stuff from all over the landscape.
eMarketer: What will happen this year in regards to this shift?
A lot of marketers decided that they want a best-of-breed collection of whatever it is—half a dozen or so different products, maybe two or three main platforms and a collection of more specialized capabilities to work with those platforms. People are getting comfortable with that, partly because vendors have done a much better job on the integration side.
Most of the major platform vendors have grown their ecosystems, but so have the individual marketing products. As anyone who makes a marketing software product now knows, they’re going to get the integration question, “How does that plug into Marketo, Eloqua or HubSpot?”
They have invested the research and development efforts and can say, “We have a good answer for that. We plug into their API [application programming interface] here, and this is how it works.” Marketers are getting to a place where they build their own stack.
eMarketer: Are we on a path to continued expansion of the marketing technology landscape or will we see some consolidation?
Brinker: It’s a complicated reality. If you had asked me this question a month ago, my answer would have been that there are a number of categories that are consolidating—areas like web analytics, ecommerce and marketing automation—and there are other categories like content marketing or even social media where it’s enough of a new thing and there are enough edge-case innovations that they’re probably expanding.
But then I started working on updating my marketing technology landscape graphic, and there are more web analytics companies today than there were a year ago. There is some old stuff that is clearly not going to grow, but it was more surprising to find new entrants in all of those categories—ecommerce, web analytics, web content management and more.
eMarketer: How much will these categories grow?
They have an uphill battle. These are semi-mature categories, but there are still people coming into this as entrepreneurs who think they can do a better job. Some of them might be right.
There is certainly consolidation happening, but the pace of innovation does not seem to have slowed. The landscape is expanding somewhat, but it’s not doubling like it was a few years ago. The net growth is slowing, but there are still thousands of companies that are trying to innovate in the space.
eMarketer: How has the technology evaluation process matured among marketers?
Brinker: It’s maturing at two levels. One is that marketers are being a lot savvier about what they want. Most have gone through the process of buying tools that they didn’t like for various reasons, or having relationships with vendors that they didn’t like. They learned from that experience and they ask a different set of questions the next time around.
The second is that organizations are starting to get more sophisticated in how they deal with SaaS [Software-as-a-Service] relationships. In 2015, procurement departments suddenly discovered that there was a marketing technology landscape that they weren’t aware of. The same can be said for information security.
The level of discipline that’s going into evaluation is at a different level. It’s coming into focus for the rest of the organization that marketing technology is a major dimension of their businesses. These aren’t just little toys on the side—it is now formally part of marketing operations and there is a more mature approach to it.
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