Why Advertisers Are 'Intimidated' by Marketing Technology

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Judy Shapiro, CEO/founder of engageSimply
Judy Shapiro, CEO/founder of engageSimply Credit: Courtesy engageSimply

Judy Shapiro, CEO and founder of programmatic content marketing company EngageSimply, doesn't hold back when talking about the potential she sees with marketing technology. She wants marketers to embrace it, and worries they largely have not yet done so.

The way she sees it, marketing automation and data are not yet working well for big companies, and it may still be a few years before things truly click. Before she addresses the Ad Age IQ Marketing and Technology conference on Jan. 17, Ms. Shapiro shared some of her thoughts on why marketing instincts still matter, even as the marketing technology world becomes more and more automated.

Advertising Age: If there was one thing you could fix in marketing technology, what would it be?

Ms. Shapiro: I would love marketers to love the technology, and that's really difficult because none of them actually use it. There's a genuine intimidation. There's just not enough playful experimentation, personal. Instead of marketers doing the work, it falls to a tech team. There's a joy here, this is fun. I want people to get the joy of the creative aspect of this. You have now thousands of tools called adtech that are like a crayon box. You can create, and draw and play with them. But while [marketers] might open up the crayon box and see all of the colors, they get frozen in fear. I would love to see more personal experimentation. Work with the stuff, play with it. It's not going to bite you. It's not going to hurt you.

Ad Age: Are you seeing creative teams and technology teams work together more closely, or are they still in silos?

Ms. Shapiro: In some of the sharper digital agencies, you absolutely are seeing it. They create core teams and everybody has accountability for all of the pieces. I'm not seeing it on the client side, not because marketers don't want to see it, but because you have big CIO teams that are run separate. We're seeing some big marketing teams developing their own ad ops. Ad ops has never evolved to what it needed to be, because it got overtaken by the CIO. Companies are struggling more than agencies.

Ad Age: If you were making a hire in this area, say at a smaller agency or marketer, what skills do people need to have now or for the next five years?

Ms. Shapiro: The best skills are great marketing skills, not great tech skills, believe it or not. Great marketing is a talent, it's an intuition. Anyone with an open mind can learn the tech. If they have great marketing instincts, that's No. 1. The tech is an easier skill to learn. Once you dive in, it really is like swimming. You realize how much fun it is. I just would love every proverbial agency person who is standing on the edge of the pool to just dive in. I won't let them drown.

Want to learn more? Register for the Ad Age IQ Marketing & Technology Conference here.

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