Brinker also has some thoughts on this whole martech
consolidation thing, and how it will impact advertising. But right
now, he's literally trying to catch his breath. The Martech
Conference ended about an hour ago, and employees at the Hilton
Union Square are stacking thousands of metal chairs from the
hotel's numerous ballrooms as they clear out any remains left over
from the San Francisco event.
"I'm ready to go home and binge on Netflix," Brinker says. "I
gotta catch up on 'Homeland' with my wife. I'm on the newest
season; it's such a good show ... Oh, and Mother's Day dinner."
Normally, Brinker is more apt to be quoted on marketing
technology and the ever growing number of companies that are
propping up in the space. He is widely regarded as an authority on
the subject and the Martech Conference's biggest draw is his
That's where he busts out the single slide -- his version of
Terence Kawaja's infamous LUMAscape for martech -- which causes
nearly everyone in attendance to gasp, snap pictures and share it
on social media.
"It's not like there's a winner-loser block in there," Mark
Hosbein, global managing director at Accenture, said in regards to
Brinker's chart. "But it gets the audience and vendors worked up to
come here, not to mention there's also a PR benefit to it,
To be fair, Hosbein, and nearly everyone else we asked,
appreciates the so-called marketing technology supergraphic. "I
crave the trends underneath all this," Hosbein said. "I love the
insights. Like, which categories are growing most and why?"
When Brinker made his first chart in 2011, there were 150
companies operating in the space. It grew to 350 the following
year,. Most people weren't paying attention to what he was doing
until 2014, when Brinker's chart cracked 1,000 companies for the
Each year since then, people feverishly wait for Brinker to
break out his next chart. His latest slide has a total of 5,381
logos, up nearly 40% from the previous year, that together
represent the marketing technology landscape.
"It just goes to show you how complex this marketplace really
is," said Joe Stanhope, principal analyst at market research firm
Forrester. "In many ways it shows you a fairly unhealthy ecosystem
of tech providers."
"The fact it keeps growing this way -- and the fact a lot of the
categories shouldn't be categories in the first place -- shows us
that we still haven't gotten to the tipping point where you're
going to start to see more consolidation," he added.
Stanhope points out that Brinker's chart is meant to represent
the sort of madness associated with a Jackson Pollock painting.
It's meant to be chaotic, showing all things martech for all
"If you parse it with b-to-b or b-to-c companies, then different
industries, or geographies, it suddenly becomes more manageable,"
Stanhope said. "Brands shouldn't look at it and freak out."
Of the companies listed on Brinker's latest graph, 6.9% have
1,000 or more employees. Another 48% received some sort of funding.
The rest, he says, are likely small, niche players.
"There are millions of apps for smartphones," Brinker said. "And
there's tremendous duplication of apps. Remember when there were
hundreds of flashlight apps? I think you see echoes of that in the
marketing tech landscape; there's a lot of duplication and
"But even if 80% of them are crap, that other 20% can be really
good, and they can give you this capability you didn't have
before," he added. "Yes, there's a lot of noise in the martech
space, but there's a lot of good stuff happening, too."
Because Brinker's supergraphic has continued to grow each year
since 2011, many in the industry speculate that an armageddon of
sorts is on the horizon, and that a consolidation is
"There will always be new vendors and there will always be new
players thinking they can disrupt the old world order," said Chris
Jacob, director of product marketing at Salesforce. "That will
"But the idea that all of these different vendors can exist,
both in the longevity of their own business as well as being able
to solve their customers most critical needs is a fallacy," Jacob
added. "You can't execute a campaign on one channel that;s
coordinated with another channel if both those data systems are
For example, there are three different outfits that call
themselves "Rank Trackers," but each one of them is spelled
slightly different than the other. Another one calls itself "Less
Annoying CRM" and due to the influx of companies with the word
"Buzz" in their title, "ViralContentBuzz" rebranded itself as
"ViralContentBee" last year.
Brinker agrees that fewer choices would make it easier for
marketers who are interested in adopting the tech.
The thing is, that's not the reality.
"The cries for consolidation in this space have been driven by
that logical reason that if there were fewer choices, it would be
easier," Brinker said. "I don't disagree with that logic, but
working on the landscape has taught me that it's not a hypothetical
world; the empirical reality is there are these many companies
whether we like it or not."
Brinker says having so many companies should translate into more
competition, which would lead to lower prices for marketers. "It's
something I think isn't talked about as much as it should be," he
Still, it's no secret that martech is an expensive, complex
operation. Brands already have so much data, and making sense of
even more data requires more technology and manpower, among other
In the future, Brinker says he plans to create an Angie's
List-like database where marketers can sift through thousands of
companies and find one that's specifically tailored to their needs,
as well as read reviews left by other customers. He's also thinking
about creating a new visualization for his so-called marketing
"Where I'd imagine taking it from here is there will be new
visualizations, where you can look through a lens and say, 'For a
company of my size, in this sector, working with these existing
technologies and building around this particular platform, show me
who's doing what," Brinker said. "Show me who's getting great
reviews and I think there is a lot of ways to make the data more
relevant to a particular marketer."
"I don't want to promote something until I have something
concrete," he added. "But we are working on ways to making that
data more accessible."