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Madtech: Friend Or Foe?

Depending on the company and the business, technology dollars in support of marketing now flow either into Advertising Technology or Marketing Technology. Adtech or Martech – or increasingly, into their combination: Madtech.



By Peter Orban

This year is the last when the CIO still spends more on technology than the CMO. Depending on the company and the business, technology dollars in support of marketing now flow either into Advertising Technology or Marketing Technology. Adtech or Martech – or increasingly, into their combination: Madtech

The (historical) difference between Adtech & Martech is rapidly disappearing as the disciplines, targeting and outreach platforms or feedback tools used in Consumer and B2B are rapidly converging. Here is quick snapshot about the status quo:


Adtech is as old as the Internet itself and grew out of AdOps (Advertising Operations): the infrastructure and processes necessary to deliver digital advertising to consumers. Today it is a multibillion dollar vertical with a cornucopia of companies stretching across Display, Search, Video, Mobile, Social, Content Marketing/Native Advertising, Gaming and Commerce.   The recent RTB and Programmatic developments not only cast a spotlight onto Adtech but also began to change structural fundamentals – think about Client side DMPs; fraudulent traffic, private exchanges or Ad Blocking.


Martech entered the vernacular relatively recently. When Scott Brinker published the first Martech infographic in 2010 on his blog it contained about a 100 companies.

martech landscape

Last year’s Martech Landscape Supergraphic has more than 1800 companies squeezed on to it.

MARTECH LAndscape2

Martech today is spread across consumer and B2B marketing domains increasingly absorbing the elements of Adtech.

In fact, some industry observers and participants believe that Adtech and Martech are on a merger – or collision – course. David Raab coined the – very appropriate sounding – term ‘Madtech’ to describe the combination. Dave Morgan postulates that Martech will simply eat Adtech, and we also discussed this on Greenbook earlier.

How does this pertain to Researchers?

Whether Martech eats Adtech, they merge or continue to coexist one thing seems to be clear – we are looking at the new, data & software fueled marketing world order. We know software is eating the world and it is certainly eating every aspect of marketing.

But here is the scary thing: in this new world order there is no mention of Marketing Research. Pour through any of the landscapes and there is not a single utterance of the word “research”. Yes, there are research companies mentioned under various different headings, such as: “Customer Experience”, “Performance Attribution”, “Audience & Market Data” and “BI, CI & Data Science” but there is no ‘bucket’ called research.

How does Martech impact Research?

  • As the disintermediation of Research continues, the technologies, platforms and tools created for this space have a profound influence on the input the enterprise uses for decision making. What information is collected, how is it collected, structured, accessed, aggregated, analyzed and applied is driven by software created by non-researchers for non-research purposes.
  • Not all organizations think about data quality the same way. Researcher will increasingly benefit from being able to interact with these systems for more & varied datasets but also to understand (and control for) biases inherent to collection methods or structural limitations.
  • Martech delivers gobs of data, increasingly from 3rd party sources, collected frequently because it easily can be. An indifferent approach to laddering up all these data streams, e.g. into KPIs, can easily misfire – – just think about the ‘click’
  • For that matter, Research itself is increasingly hosted and becoming automated by these very software systems

Insight generation can greatly benefit from Martech but – as evidenced by the absence of the “research bucket” – Research needs to stake its ground to better understand the rapid change and effectively influence it.

How can Research support Martech?

At the same time, Martech can greatly benefit from a Researcher’s touch.

  • You need multiple datasets created with a plethora of methodologies to create a full 360-degree picture of the consume and not just what Martech tools & platforms collect
  • Models of consumer behavior rooted in social science complement data science based approaches naturally, leading to a faster and more effective insight generation process
  • The more (behavioral) data delivered by the various systems the more “why” type of questions will emerge – best suited for Marketing Research to answer.
  • Emotions play a critical role in a plethora of marketing activities: decision making, brand building, etc. – all a sweet spot for Research

So to answer the question in the headline:  Martech, Adtech or Madtech & Research should not only be friends but natural, complementary partners in generating timely and actionable insights.

The prime gathering of the Martech community is the Martech 2016 conference co-produced by Scott Brinker, (the original ‘Chief Marketing Technologist’) held on March 20-21 in San Francisco.

Looking at the list of speakers some very familiar names pop up:

  • Dave Morgan, CEO SImulmedia will talk about how Adtech built for the needs of media intermediaries will give way to Martech built to serve marketers and their customers and how old-style media metrics like GRP’s, CPM’s and Impressions are going away, as marketers focus more and more on business outcomes and ROI.
  • Jennifer Zeszut, CEO of Beckon, and Shubu Mitra, Director of Connection Planning Effectiveness & Productivity at Coca-Cola, will jointly present Agile Marketing Measurement — how to combine science with art, data with storytelling, and logic with emotion to craft a compelling story of marketing performance to internal audiences (such as the CEO and CFO).
  • Pat LaPointe, Chief Growth Officer at Growth Calculus and author of Marketing by the Dashboard Light, will present Bridging the Gap Between Marketing & Finance. He will bring frameworks and stories from large brands to show how attribution and optimization can be transformative tools when used in a people-smart way, using data to build bridges vs. bunkers, and substantially improve the role of marketing as value-driver vs. cost center.

More generally, on one end, we’ll hear from “Main Street” brands such as Frito-Lay, Disney, Heineken, DHL, and Clorox about how they’re organizing and leveraging marketing technology in their marketing and operations.

On the other end, “digital native” pioneers such as Uber, Zendesk, Mozilla, LogMeIn, New Relic, LinkedIn, Akamai will talk about about how they’re pushing the envelope on the next wave of technology-powered marketing and marketing management.

If you have the opportunity to attend act quickly, as 75% of the tickets are sold. Otherwise stay tuned as we’ll be reporting the most interesting and important insights. Moreover, IIEX 2016 will also feature an inaugural Martech track in June – so see you in SF or in Atlanta!

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3 responses to “Madtech: Friend Or Foe?

  1. Peter:

    Thanks for making this point so clearly. I think most client side researchers are aware or being made aware of the need for more automation and the job itself is changing from execution to insights. That said, if the insights are slow, skewed or fail to deliver anything more than confirmation the expenditures are bound to be questioned and they are being questioned.

    Research has always been a cost center and that has been the problem with growth even in good times. Now, as a less effective cost center, it faces a change or die type of option. That said, the tools out there are taking over a lot of the larger and more boring tasks of researchers and opening up avenues for savvy insights managers. It really is about the insights because it really is about the money…always.

    The next generation of Watson like tools is quickly coming to concurrence and with it, the ability to create individual case responses and aggregate direction that is both validated and actionable. It’s not your father’s research but it is research that delivers answers. There are a thousand ways to collect data and a million ways to get information, we aren’t solving for that problem anymore despite our stubborn stance on data collection.

    The winners in this game will figure out how to show an ROI and how to show a direct link that in real time delivers real dollars. The world of AI is already doing that and it is able to use multiple sources of information to create individual value propositions. The next generation of research may well be about using that information for better product and production practices.

    I am currently positioning a new product finishing beta testing that goes even beyond those boundaries. The world of research is healthy, it’s just different and it’s exciting to be a part of a process that is a win/win for profitability and for consumer experience.

  2. The term ‘Madtech’ was not created by David Raab, but by myself, Lucia Mastromauro, Celeny Da Silva, Jay Stevens, Erich Wasserman, Eric Tourtel, Sorosh Takavoli, Jenna Griffith, Erinn Leahey and Ben Barokas in 2013 on a strategy weekend. We’ve been using it ever since

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