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Gartner describes martech as a set of integrated technologies that allows marketing capabilities, while Amazon says it is the software

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in marketing, with CMOs and heads of marketing turning to new tech trends to automate traditional processes and increase reach.

This has led to an overhaul of the traditional martech “stack”, with 83% of marketers replacing or upgrading their stack within the past 12 months, according to technology PR firm Wildfire.

Gartner describes martech as a set of integrated technologies that allows marketing capabilities, while Amazon says it is the software marketers use to optimise their marketing efforts and achieve their objectives: “It leverages technology to plan, execute and measure campaigns and other marketing tactics”. Essentially, it is technology intended to make marketers’ jobs easier.

In 2021, the industry was valued at around $344.8 billion and it is projected to reach around $514bn by 2027, according to statistics platform Industry Research, and it was over the past four years when it experienced a the biggest climb – 13.6% from 2019 to 2020 and 24% from 2020 to 2022, suggesting enterprises are realising the value it can add to their business.

The stack

In terms of ‘integrated technologies’, this usually involves employing a set of tools and software to assist the marketing team, known as the marketing technology stack. The main areas, which have developed in recent years, broadly include advertising, email marketing, content management, data analytics, customer experience, customer relationship management, and social media.

According to the 2020 marketing technology landscape, from 2019 to 2020 data (25.5%), management (15,2%), and social and relationships (13,7%) were the main tools that experienced the most growth, and in 2022, management grew 67%, followed by content and experience with 34% (which, in 2020, grew only 5.6% compared to 2019) But while businesses investment has risen within specific areas of the martech stack, its overall usage has declined.

Gartner’s latest industry 2022 insights suggests that businesses use just 42% of capabilities available in their stack overall, compared to 58% in 2020, which it said is “undermining objectives of efficient resource deployment”. Yet a recent survey conducted among CMOs in North America, France, Germany, and the UK, shows approximately 25.4% of marketing budgets were spent on marketing technology in 2022, and close to a quarter of marketing expenses were devoted to paid media that year, so where is the budget being spent?

AI making headway

Reports suggest that in 2021, artificial intelligence had the biggest revenue effect in marketing and sales, with 58% of businesses reporting a revenue increase of 5%, followed by 6% to 10% (28.6%), and 12% of businesses said their revenue increased over 10%. A separate survey also suggested that AI and machine learning is expected to surge, with the amount of businesses incorporating it into their marketing strategies on a day-to-day basis to grow 166% over the next three years.

Some of the highest value AI use cases in marketing, according to data and solutions platform Chiefmartech, include measuring return on investment (ROI) by channel and campaign; discovering insights into top performing content and campaigns; recommending targeted content to users in real-time; optimising website content for search engines; and creating data-driven content.

In fact, the platform goes as far to suggest that AI is expected to “radically” change what machines can do at the industry’s bidding, a recent example being the development of OpenAI’s new ChatGPT – TI recently interviewed OpenAI’s new chatbot prototype on its predictions for 2023 – Yet a recent post on Forbes suggests that AI is not a new phenomenon when it comes to martech.

“There are so many tools with AI features that we are used to using without even thinking about it,” with the most frequently used social and search engine advertising solutions, email marketing platforms, e-commerce solutions, and tools designed to assist with content creation providing functionality that already taps into AI.

“But generally, at a macro level, we are extremely early in the understanding and adoption of AI,” says Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO of Marketing AI Institute and author of the new book ‘Marketing Artificial Intelligence’.

METAtech

According to a 2022 survey by US publication Martech, half of marketers said they are considering entering the metaverse either this year or within the next five years. A further quarter said they would consider breaking into it more than five years down the road, but the question remains as to why?

Marketers are constantly looking for new ways to connect with consumers, and “from the onset of the pandemic, companies have worked to aggressively reshape the digital experience for browsing and discovery, but also virtual try-ons and augmented reality furniture-buying experiences,” said Kyle Rees, senior director analyst in the Gartner for Marketing Leaders practice. “… It’s a signal to marketers – to what level should I pay attention to this?”

A recent post from Oracle suggests that consumer loyalty programs can thrive in the metaverse. Many programs already use gamification to keep their members entertained, but companies can also offer an exclusive virtual event or environment, modifications to benefit their avatar for example, and NFTS, cryptocurrency or a digital asset as rewards.

Sportwear brand Nike and American restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill are two examples of companies tapping into this new technology. Nike is now offering Cryptokicks, a virtual version, or NFT, of its Nike Dunk trainers that the brand released in partnership with RTFKT, a virtual sneaker designer Nike bought in December 2021. Meanwhile, Chipotle announced last year that it was launching Chipotle Burrito Builder on Roblox, a new simulation experience that allows players to roll burritos in the metaverse to earn Burrito Bucks which they can then spend on the chain’s app.

“We’ve tapped into play-to-earn, an emerging engagement model in the metaverse, to launch our newest experience on Roblox that celebrates the iconic Chipotle burrito,” said Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer at Chipotle. “We’re blending the metaverse and real-world elements of our brand to take the Chipotle fan experience to a whole new level.” – Even British food delivery company Deliveroo has leveraged virtual reality (VR) in Nintendo’s Animal Crossing to get virtual drivers to make virtual deliveries with promotional codes players could use in real life.

The metaverse can also, according to Oracle, take content marketing to the next level by using interactive content. “The same old static content won’t work. Why would an email get anyone excited in the metaverse? What if instead you created a mascot to read your offer off a scroll? A court jester, talking dog, or friendly robot?”

Yet a report by Gartner in 2022 contended that a number of people are not fully convinced by metaverse and this only diminishes with its association to Facebook, which, according to the study, will not help an early adopter brand.

Only 18% of respondents said they are “primarily excited” about impacts the metaverse may have, while 21% said they were “primarily concerned” about the metaverse. Some worry that if consumers associate the metaverse with Mark Zuckerberg’s company, that may open a lot of negative associations taken from headlines about the negative effects social media can have on the mind, as well as public discourse and even democracy.

The metaverse is still under construction. The shape of the future and how it will affect digital marketing remains to be completely seen. Like with metrics, much still needs to be figured out. Plus, the metaverse will involve a lot of moving parts (AI, video, blockchain, etc.) and huge, huge amounts of data. It will be complex to work with and use.

Still, much of these issues only exist because the metaverse hasn’t completely established itself yet. Once it has, do you want to be scrambling to catch up to your competitors, Oracle questions, or do you want to be in a position to make the most of it?