What’s needed from marketing clouds, part II

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Credit: Shutterstock / Cienpies Design

Although I’m trying to resist using the term “marketing clouds,” there’s just too much buzz around it. Marketing tech is hot, so Gigaom Research wanted to figure out what trends were most critical for this space in the near term, so that advertisers and marketers can gauge potential suppliers, and the would-be providers can prioritize feature sets and acquisitions. What did we find? Some of the big guys are too focused on their CRM roots.

Six weeks ago, we launched our analysis with a Gigaom reader poll. We asked our readers what they thought were the most disruptive forces in marketing technology. The results: big data and mobile.

Gigaom reader perceptions of marketing tech disruptors

I’ll give you big data, even if most marketing campaigns don’t deal in the kind of volumes that define “big,” and most buying and selling isn’t dependent on real-time analysis. Yes, social media and search generate tons of data, and search and programmatic buying depend on real-time bidding. Retargeting and lookalike profiling can use those data types, too.

But right now, most mobile-marketing spending is going to Google for search, and to Facebook and, recently, Twitter. Mobile Facebook spending is mostly on app promotion. In time, brands using apps for marketing is going to be big, especially as gaming and personal utility cools. But if your marketing tools can handle search and social, you’ve got a year or so before you need tons of mobile tools. Especially if you’re waiting for beacons and sophisticated geotargeting.

Disruption Vectors in the marketing-tech platform sector

MarketingTechVectors-e1409152895156

Key: vector weighting sums to 100%

Source: Gigaom Research

The chart above maps what Gigaom Research determined were the key technologies and trends disrupting marketing technology today. We call them Disruption Vectors, because, hey, we’re analysts and we have to try to brand our methodologies. The graphic illustrates the six most critical forces in the sector, and their relative importance compared with each other.

Social media. We found from interviews and a survey of digital marketers that social media marketing is where the most big spenders are increasing their budgets. That, social’s role in mobile, and the fact that over 50 percent of marketers think it’s difficult to prove social ROI, moved it to the top of our list.

Multichannel means managing campaigns and programs across digital channels – email, search, display, mobile – but also incorporating them in traditional media, like television and print. The big spenders use all media, and they’re grappling with marketing-mix modeling and attribution.

Multi-objective. All those channels are needed to reach fragmented audiences in support of the classic marketing objectives: customer awareness, acquisition, conversion, and retention. Our survey showed that marketers rate all four as important parts of their digital marketing. Marketing-tech platforms need to address branding as well as direct response goals.

Mobile. As noted, stay tuned. Soon to be critical.

Digital video. The biggest budgets – TV budgets – stay on TV for its reach and emotion. TV’s still the branding medium of choice. Startups, big online players, and traditional TV networks alike are arming for the online and OTT video wars. But like mobile, handling the other vectors addresses many digital video issues. Also, it’s going to take a while for TV buyers to get comfortable with digital targeting and buying. They will do so, but they’ll also likely be able to do that on the big screen by the time they’re ready.

Programmatic buying is more than disruptive for online publishers. It’s wrenching, forcing them to re-invent sponsorships as “native advertising,” and huddle together in premium exchanges. But right now, most programmatic buying is focused on online display.

So take a look at our Sector Roadmap report for more details and see which platforms are in the best position to take advantage of these trends. We evaluated a representative selection of suppliers, including some niche specialists, more for their strategic focus and vision than for their product sets, which will continue to evolve at light speed. Of the companies we examined, IgnitionOne and Adobe currently align best with the trends. Neustar and Salesforce.com are also well positioned. HubSpot and Bronto Software offer compelling but narrowly focused platforms.

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