Making Sense of the Martech Madness

Written by: Bob Deininger, VP Digital Media & Analytics recently released its Marketing Technology Landscape and it is overwhelming! Marketing technology (martech) companies came on the scene in 2011 with 150 companies — today there are approximately 7,040 all vying for your business.

How does a marketer make sense of this sea of logos? To answer that, we need to start by asking the right questions.

Why So Many Martech Companies?

Martech companies exist to improve the customer experience; however, there are a number of ways to achieve that goal. For example, data management platforms (DMPs) collect data to help marketers better understand customers. Content management systems (CMS) are used to personalize website experiences. Reaching prospects requires channel-specific (e.g., search, social, video, display) management platforms.

As marketers increase in sophistication and their needs evolve, their marketing challenges evolve and become more complex. One example is account based marketing (ABM), a growing area for business-to-business (B2B) marketers which has fueled the growth of platforms like Lattice Engines, Mintigo, Radius, 6sense, and Terminus. ABM companies integrate with ancillary martech platforms but are used to reach specific prospect lists. While a hot topic and buzzy acronym, ABM may not be the right solution.

What Martech Do I Really Need?

Innovation is the application of technology to solve human problems. — Simon Sinek

When evaluating martech solutions, start with what human or “marketing” challenge it is trying to solve.

At a minimum, we believe the following needs or problems exist for every marketer and provide the most compelling reasons to evaluate specific martech solutions.

What’s Next?

Too many players with indistinguishable value propositions is not only generating confusion in the marketplace but creating an environment ripe for consolidation. For example, Acxiom purchased the identity resolution company, LiveRamp, only to be acquired by advertising agency holding group, Interpublic Group (IPG) shortly thereafter.

However, we believe that many martech companies are “bright shiny objects” and Gartner’s Hype Cycle can be used to predict their fate.


We believe that some martech companies are sliding down the “peak of inflated expectations” where solutions fail to deliver on value propositions. Many martech solutions are either in the “peak of inflated expectations” or the “trough of disillusionment” where companies either survive or fail by their ability to satisfy the needs of their customers. A few companies are climbing the “slope of enlightenment” where they have proven that they can add value by truly solving marketer’s problems.

Leaders like Oracle, Adobe, and Salesforce are likely to continue to dominate by acquiring the most successful martech companies in different categories to develop full-stack enterprise solutions for marketers.

What does this mean for your brand?

If you are interested in assessing your current martech stack, we recommend the following actions:

1. Identify what problem you are trying to solve — Is there is a need to develop a better understanding of customers?

2. Determine the business goal of solving the problem — Drive revenue through improving customer relationships

3. Translate the business goal to marketing objective — Implement a cross-sell/upsell email campaign to increase sales

4. Assess current martech stack — Are there gaps? Redundancies? Under-utilization of existing solutions? Unmet needs?

5. Determine if you need to evaluate new martech solutions — Involve your marketing ops team, technology team, marketing end-users or Norbella in the evaluation and decision-making process

As a data-driven media agency for sophisticated marketers, Norbella helps clients navigate the digital technology ecosystem.

We add value to clients by simplifying the complexity of the digital technology ecosystem and then leveraging the most relevant media and technology opportunities to achieve their business goals.

Many of Norbella’s clients have made investments in martech solutions and we are happy to get involved early and often to ask “objective other” questions on how these solutions will help improve the effectiveness and efficiency of marketing. As with any decision in life, it is important to ask, “why the what”?

As the famous Harvard Business School professor, Theodore Leavitt, stated:

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

Think of the “quarter-inch hole” that you want your marketing technology investments to achieve and then determine if and how the myriad of martech solutions can be your “drill”.

Bob Deininger is the Vice President of Digital Media & Analytics at Norbella. He directs client engagement and oversees the team that manages digital channels encompassing display/programmatic, social, mobile, video, SEM and analytics. In his free time, Bob is an amateur ornithologist, maritime historian, and a grateful dad.

Ongoing questions & confessions of a modern-day media agency.