The convergence of adtech and martech is “inevitable,” according to Forrester, representing a broader industry trend that zeros in on quality over scale.
For global entertainment company Village Roadshow, merging these tech components in-house has enabled it to more meaningfully connect with its customers. Subsidiary Roadshow Films, one of Australia’s largest film and TV distribution businesses, provides an example of how a regional brand successfully managed the convergence.
In an exclusive interview with CMO.com, Clare Smith, director of digital and customer marketing, takes us through Roadshow Films’ convergence process, including educating the organization on its benefits and reworking the relationship with the agency that has been handling its adtech.
CMO.com: What have been the benefits of merging your adtech and martech platforms?
Smith: Having our martech and adtech platforms merged has enabled us to gain greater insight into consumer behaviour with our products. We can now see how people are moving through our ecosystems, from the theatrical release, to digital release, and all the way through to our SVOD release.
We now use all the data we are collecting to inform future campaigns. We also use this insight to help quantify the size of the audience, what interests them about our movies, and how to message them. This not only makes our audience management highly effective, but the financial benefits are even greater.
CMO.com: What were some of the issues and challenges that you encountered along the way?
Smith: It’s a challenging space because to implement it well you really need to understand your use case, what kind of financial model you want to put around it, how you’re going to access it, and how you actually know that it’s been successful.
For us, it was about going back to basics and making sure that our website was revamped, up-to-date, and on the most recent platform; that the content we had in there was recent; and that we linked it up with our business systems before we started getting too clever with ourselves. A lot of the basics get missed when you are trying to bring tech together.
CMO.com: Did you have to bring other parts of the organisations into the process of convergence?
Smith: We really needed to bring a lot of the business on the journey–to explain to them why we needed their help and why what they were doing was so pivotal to what we needed to do. Some of the teams had never been asked to get involved in the marketing side, but I’m saying to them, “You have all the data that I need to enable my journey.”
Bringing our CEOs on the journey was really important. It’s like, “This is going to cost you a lot of money. This is going to deliver great outcomes at the end, but it’s a journey.”
CMO.com: Adtech and martech have been separate for a long time, so practitioners from each field may find themselves an expert in one but not necessarily the other. Was this your experience?
Smith: In the adtech space, it’s always been the realm of the agency, and the agency has held all the knowledge that sits around adtech. The time is now for marketers to take back control of the whole end-to-end chain. Whether they run that themselves is a whole different ballgame, but having that understanding of what the possibilities are with adtech and what that can provide to your marketing campaigns, that’s where it really pays off.
We said to our agency, “We know the power of this tool, and we know what that can give us, so we need you to be much closer to us so that we can marry up adech and martech much better.”
Adtech is a certain skillset, and martech is a certain skillset. For most marketers, if you understand the possibility of both, I’m pretty sure you’re going to want to have your hands on both.
CMO.com: You’re saying it’s not necessarily about taking over the agency function. So what changed is the nature of the relationship you have with the agency?
Smith: Absolutely. We were nervous when we said, “We’re going to take this part of our business and bring it in-house.” We’ve been very upfront with our agency and very honest with them about what the ideas were around this. It’s really strengthened our relationship with the agency. We said to the agency, “We want to do this, and this is how we want to do it. We need you to be our enablement in this journey because we can’t do everything ourselves.” The agency has responded incredibly well.
CMO.com: Rapid change in technology also means rapid changes in language. Was that an issue for you in converging adtech and martech?
Smith: It becomes an issue when you’re trying to explain it to the next layer up because that’s where the funding comes from. I don’t expect them to speak that language. It can be quite complex to get your head around it unless you’re in it every single day.
That’s the biggest challenge, when I’m trying to explain, and especially when I’m trying to explain what things cost. So I try and put descriptions at the front of every presentation so that everybody’s on the same page before we get into any kind of strategy or tactic. You can’t take for granted that people will understand it.
A large part of my job is putting complex things in layman’s terms, so that they get what I’m trying to do and what I’m talking about. They’re CEOs. It’s not their everyday job to be in this stuff.
CMO.com: How difficult is it to keep abreast of the technology and all the options that are available to marketers at any given time?
Smith: What’s difficult is that there are so many new technologies emerging. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with all of the developments across martech and adtech. You’re on a journey, and you’re trying to merge all this technology, but you can’t be so rigid that you can’t pivot, but you also don’t want to pivot to the newest shiny toy. [I ask myself], “Am I making the right decisions based on what technology is available that has enough runway that future-proofs us?”
CMO.com: What were your biggest achievements in the past year?
Smith: Setting up the desk internally was a huge achievement. Having personalisation on the website was a huge achievement. Getting our website to the level that it is now connected to our email platform that is connected to our business data and syncs automatically. We’ve done a rebrand of all our assets, which launched in December. There have been some big milestones this year.
CMO.com: What are your priorities for 2018?
Smith: My New Year’s resolution is to keep working on understanding Australian audiences, ensuring that everything we do is about building more and more understanding of audiences so that we can segment them a whole lot better to connect them to content.