Be Like Netflix: Marketers Must Adapt to Growing Tech Map

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Scott Brinker, editor of chiefmartec.com, asks if brands are ready for digital everything at AdAge's IQ Conference: Marketing & Technology.
Scott Brinker, editor of chiefmartec.com, asks if brands are ready for digital everything at AdAge's IQ Conference: Marketing & Technology.
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The marketing technology landscape is changing so rapidly that advertisers can hardly keep up, and they need to rethink how they organize and remain flexible, according to Scott Brinker, editor at Chiefmartec.com.

The marketing technology map is filled with companies that can help with internet, email, mobile app and display ads, but the next area for growth is in wearables, virtual assistants, virtual reality and connected appliances.

"We are starting to enter a new era here," Mr. Brinker said following a presentation at Ad Age's IQ Conference: Marketing & Technology. "There's voice computing, chatbots, wearable devices throughout consumers' lives and out in the marketplace in all these contexts."

"The most sophisticated companies are digital natives," Mr. Brinker said, calling them adaptable as one result. "Netflix, Amazon and Uber."

Mr. Brinker, co-founder of the content software company Ion Interactive, also talked about how advertisers have to implement marketing technology strategies that actually anticipate change.

The future of marketing tech is all about "micro-services," he said, by way of giving marketers a signpost to follow.

"Instead of trying to build one massive piece of software that does everything," Mr. Brinker said, "work with many different pieces of software that are able to integrate with each other."

"In a world where so much is changing, and so quickly, no one company solves everything for us," he added.

But do not become beholden to a marketing stack that requires a lot of labor and time to retool, Mr. Brinker warned. Marketing tech needs to be replaceable as new technology is created and new companies crop up and old companies get bought or fall off. Nobody can really predict the future, so two years down the line everybody needs the flexibility in their systems to move one to what's next in marketing.

That's a lesson learned lately by many brands and advertisers that have chosen technology partners only to find two years down the road that their vendors have been acquired or no longer occupy the leading edge.

The marketing tech map known as the Lumascape has gone form 150 companies in 2011 to about 3,500 today. That's a lot to wade through for brands, but Mr. Brinker said almost all of the marketing the companies are related to yesterday's digital infrastructure, areas like the web and apps.

Now, popping up are whole new wings to the Lumascape, devoted to areas like virtual reality.

"We're not going to slow down the rate of change," Mr. Brinker said. "What we need to do as organizations is adapt to change better."

Nor can marketers can't get a tech partner for every marketing opportunity. They need to narrow their focus, placing a few bets, according to Mr. Brinker.