The worlds of advertising technology (AdTech) and marketing technology (MarTech) —  which for decades have developed in parallel — are converging.

That conflation is driven by the desire of MarTech platform vendors to provide a consolidated view of all marketing activity to brands, and the importance of identification in creating market-leading customer experiences, according to a whitepaper by AdRoll. With brands increasingly competing on these experiences, the criticality of data has also driven the convergence as companies strive to unify their understanding of the customer.

And, according to AdRoll’s Asia-Pacific VP and Managing Director Ben Sharp, there is a growing consistency in the technology being used across the two disciplines that makes convergence easier.

Acquisition of data management platforms (DMPs) by companies like Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce are the most obvious manifestation of this trend. However, in truth, it has been happening for some time.

Called “The Convergence of Ad Tech and Martech”, AdRoll’s study and associated whitepaper makes a number of points. Among the key findings:

  • There is no single absolute definition that distinguishes one from the other. Instead, the disciplines of AdTech and MarTech most commonly differ over the types of data they rely on, the types of campaign activity they support, who — brands or agencies — typically manages the systems, the way services are priced and whether the media is paid for or owned.
  • While there is clearly a convergence underway, significant roadblocks remain. Customer sets are different, as are the decision makers. Likewise, the types of companies involved vary, as does the level of uncertainty around the impact of changing customer behaviours.
  • Silos remain a major problem. Silos exist between and within the two disciplines as well as across the wider enterprise and beyond its borders. Where the worlds do intersect, the data layer is critical.

AdRoll comes at the discussion from a fairly unique position, as one of the leading AdTech vendors with a rich heritage in performance marketing that has extended into MarTech. Most of the traffic runs in the other direction.

However, the company broke new ground when it launched SendRoll — later renamed AdRoll Email — which brings the disciplines of performance marketing to what has traditionally been a feature of marketing technology platforms.

According to a company spokesperson, “Marketing is undergoing dramatic changes. Technology is recasting the nature of the role and the kinds of people who will succeed in the profession. Today, data sits at the nexus of the twin disciplines of advertising technology and marketing technology. The data layer is where these two complementary yet strangely disparate worlds collide.”

The topic will also feature in a panel discussion at Mumbrella360 today, hosted by Which-50 editor Andrew Birmingham (who was also involved in the research that lead to the whitepaper.)

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