Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Understanding the game of MAdTech and data

The amalgamation of adtech and martech, the Google antitrust lawsuit and privacy issues that trouble the consumers, are some of the concerns which are being faced by this industry

Published: Jul 1, 2022 12:32:12 PM IST
Updated: Jul 1, 2022 01:49:13 PM IST

Adtech and MAdtech projects are interdisciplinary and collaborative. Image: Shutterstock 

Adtech and MAdtech projects are interdisciplinary and collaborative. Image: Shutterstock 

When one steps in, the other one takes leave—that’s what the cycle of adtech and martech is all about. Today, consumers have the option of interacting with brands through a surfeit of channels and they expect a seamless experience. It has become even more essential for brands to acquire the right set of customers at the minimal acquisition cost, engage with them, retain them, and maximise their lifetime value.

For businesses to be able to achieve this, traditional ways of approaching technology investments do not suffice. Companies need new technologies that can help navigate the complex customer journeys.

Shedding light on this convergence called MAdTech (marketing and advertising technology), Neeraj Pratap Sangani, CEO, Hansa Cequity says, “AdTech and MarTech projects are interdisciplinary and collaborative but very few organisations and senior leaders understand or act on this with any urgency.

Today everyone talks about delivering a connected customer experience, but a customer experience is not only about adtech, martech and automation. The piece that all organisations need to also focus on equally is about data — its availability, quality, architecture and much more.”

“Both, adtech and martech need to work in unison to deliver a superlative customer experience. I keep saying—it takes a lot of hard work to make your customer’s life easy.

The fact is that technology has changed the business of marketing forever. Effective calibration of adtech, martech and data together is a potent combination to enable business impact,” he adds.

Marketing and advertising have been on a trajectory of convergence for a while now — they’ve moved from two sides of the same coin to being ever present in each other’s lives.

Pooja Jauhari, group CEO, VMLY&R Network India, and Sunder Madakshira, CEO, Rezolve India and ex-CMO, Adobe, cannot help stressing on MAdTech being about hyper personalisation. Jauhari says, “While what were termed marketing technologies were always focused on personalised and targeted efforts, broader ad tech was focussed on broader data sets to communicate with. In its simplest form, the combination of the two aka MAdTech is about personalisation at scale.”

Madakshira opines, “The constant search for one source of truth, building a unified profile across channels, a desire to have hyper personalisation and maintaining a strong brand essence are drivers for this.”

From a brand point of view, Arpanarghya Saha, chief digital officer, Nippon India Mutual Fund, deciphers, “Well, we are in the business of money and that puts us in a space where we have to be very, very responsible. So, while brands in other categories are getting gung-ho about MAdTech, our endeavor is to build SmarTech. We believe in creating lucid digital solutions and immersive experiences that have intelligence embedded at the core and those which empower our investors to take smarter and well-informed decisions related to their investments.”

With the antitrust lawsuit being filed against Google and it being asked to segregate its ad business from its other businesses, what kind of a reality check or threat does it provide to other AdTech and MarTech platforms?

Sangani of Hansa Cequity likes to look at this issue differently. “I believe that it is a logical progression, and it brings to fore the monopolistic ecosystem that Google has created, curated, and meticulously cultivated over the years.”

Data went through many years of unregulated usage and with both, the Google lawsuit as well as the privacy measures that Apple has taken, the ability to use data freely has taken a major hit. “And while the focus on first party data by brands has negated this to a certain extent, the only way to move beyond this threat for AdTech and MarTech is to combine forces and focus as much on broader brand building as data driven personalisation. This will drive a growing focus on using brand connections with consumers without over reliance on cookies and will scale the growth of MAdTech,” believes Jauhari.

At the heart of the matter is a subject of great relevance—how does one reduce data domination of Google? How do we enable transparency in pricing? And, how do we ensure that privacy and personalisation co-exist?

This calls for a huge change in approach and mindset across the ecosystem. Sangani and Madakshira reiterate that brands and organisations will have to recalibrate some pieces of their data and tech strategy to meet their business objectives—customer privacy needs to be preserved, total transparency needs to be ensured in the way technology is deployed, data collected and protected and used to engage with the consumers.

Madakshira points out, “This means that some of the past paradigms and assumptions that platforms made will have to be changed. For instance, you need to follow the most stringent of the laws on the topics and make them global standards for the companies and not try and use different approaches by country that they operate in. This is the time to relook at the business models which served in the past but will simply not work in the future owing to the lack of societal trust in platforms anymore.”

“The lawsuit may come up for hearing in 2023 and nobody knows the outcome but it’s time that we work towards creating a more level playing field,” brings out Sangani.
With the exchange of digital and consumer data, and the blurring lines between AdTech and MarTech, privacy infringement is a major concern for most consumers. How do brands deal with this matter?

Brands believe that such concerns are rooted in the way the commercialisation of consumer data has shaped up over the past years and how everyone in the ecosystem has tried to leverage available touchpoints to reach out to their customers.

“However, as can be seen today, the ecosystem is also evolving and appropriate checks and controls are being brought in and there is soon going to be a balance with the power finally resting with the consumers on how, when and where they want to be reached or not reached at all. Taking consent and abiding by it has been our fundamental construct with respect to our consumers. As a brand, our focus is to build our own capabilities which will help us assimilate, analyse, understand and utilise our proprietary data in such a way that we are able to serve our investors in the best way possible and make their investment journeys more fruitful,” says Saha of Nippon Mutual Fund.

Note to readers: Storyboard18’s new Month In Focus initiative spotlights themes and topics that are pushing marketers to reshape and rethink how brands interact with today’s customers. Our theme for this month is Stacks & Strategies, a martech and adtech spotlight on how decision makers and marketers are advancing the adoption of new technologies and tech-driven strategies in the brand marketing ecosystem. From the defining trends and preparing for a cookiepocalypse to how progressive martech strategies help fast track business and brand growth. Catch this special on Storyboard18.