Highlights From MarTech San Francisco 2017

Highlights From MarTech San Francisco 2017

Kendall Morris

Each year senior-level Marketing and IT professionals from around the world travel to attend the MarTech Conference and gain insights from Scott Brinker, the mastermind behind the Marketing Landscape Supergraphic. Since 2008, Scott has been documenting the leading marketing and technology management tools, and compiling them in the supergraphic chart it is today - which currently lists over 5,000 companies.

The growth of the MarTech conference itself has mirrored the growth of the marketing technology space — 40% growth this year alone. So, it wasn’t at all surprising to us that the three day conference brought together a record number of brands, agencies, and platform vendors.

This year, we were fortunate enough to not only attend but to also have the opportunity to speak mainstage at the MarTech San Francisco 2017 (MarTech West) Conference. Over the course of the event we were able to network, learn, and soak up all we could on the intersection of Marketing and Technology. To give you an inside scoop, we’ve pulled together our very own version of a highlight reel — think of it as conference cliff-notes for you to enjoy from the comfort of your office.

Our Presentation with Capital One

It might sound biased, but our presentation at MarTech West was the highlight of our day.

Our team was privileged enough to speak alongside our client Capital One to discuss the topic of redefining personalization.

We discussed how the success of personalization relies upon a deep understanding of your customer and developing customer personas that are true to their needs, motivations, and behaviors — not just a summary of high-level demographic data.

A lot of the success of your marketing personalization relies on how accurately you’re able to understand your audience’s motivations and needs. Both companies and consumers want that personal touch, and it truly seems to be the future of marketing.

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Like most of the events we have attended recently, Artificial Intelligence was the hottest topic at MarTech. Developers, marketers, and the brands they represent simply can’t get enough.

AI is still in its early stages and holds more promises than it does real-life examples of its application. Most brands are very excited about the promise of AI’s future and how it can bring highly relevant experiences to consumers, but as it stands, we’re dealing mainly with theory rather than practice.

Yet, Catrina Boisson of IBM was hopeful about the practical applications of Watson, “When IBM Watson comes out of the box it is a toddler. It is only through the use of data that it starts to mature and over time can be more sophisticated than the highest degreed individual.”

With the likes of IBM innovating in the space, we will be watching to see how the AI space will keep evolving into practical solutions for brands everywhere.

The Challenge of Adopting New Marketing Technologies

Some of the biggest barriers that brands face when it comes to adopting MarTech were validated at the conference.

Adopting new marketing technologies is a major investment of both time and money. As the number of options and solutions continues to increase at a rapid pace, this creates a big challenge for CMO’s — specifically, figuring out the capabilities, benefits and differentiators of each solution. Plus, it’s not always clear who may have longevity in the space, and who may not be around in a year or two.

One of the biggest takeaways for companies is to spend time reviewing and evaluating an entirely new type of service with a critical eye. Even something like adopting a new CMS needs to go through a lengthy consideration process.

Fascinating Use Cases

We also had the opportunity to hear about some interesting MarTech use cases at the event. We’ve included the two below that stood out to us the most, as they help illustrate the future of the industry and present day applications:

Weather-based Ads

A national soup brand teamed up with (owned by IBM) to serve up relevant ads based upon the current weather patterns in specific regions.

For example, people are more likely to want soup when the weather gets down into the 30’s in New York. But, people in California are hungry for soup when the weather dips down to the 50’s. These strategic ads adjust automatically based upon real-time weather and location data.

Social Media Data Scraping

Banks have been able to scrape social media posts and combine them with user data to serve up home loans based upon current interest patterns.

For example, if a user posts on Facebook about shopping for a new home, planning for a wedding or having a new baby, banks can match these new interests with readily available home loans. This is done in a very subtle and highly relevant manner based upon user shared contextual information. It is used to serve relevant experiences to the user on the banks website when they visit it in the future, and it feels like a personalized, yet unobtrusive experience.

The Hackies & The Stackies

There were two awards dished out at the event: the Stackies and the Hackies.

The Stackies are awards for the best marketing stacks illustrated in a single slide. It was really interesting to see how other companies were assembling their stacks. With all of the choices available, it can get overwhelming seeing how each new piece of technology supports marketing and business goals from all the different angles that it can.

The Hackies, which we submitted an entry for our Alexa Skill, was given to a team that used a brilliant marketing hack at the intersection of marketing, technology, and management.

You can see the full list of entries and winners here. Be sure to check out what others are doing in the Alexa space, as well as the Editor's Choice, Beacons & Bacon.

The MarTech Landscape: Looking Back & Looking Ahead

After spending time at MarTech West (as well as the other conferences we have attended recently) and speaking to a mix of platform providers and brands, one thing is clear: the MarTech space is still in the gangly teenager phase.

This phase is filled with explosive growth, exploration, and coming maturity. Along with this comes excitement, confusion, and new challenges to overcome. Luckily, at this stage, the industry provides a feedback loop that helps to improve the technologies, strategies, and overall implementation of how these technologies can be leveraged.

To truly get a feel for the growth of MarTech, and all the innovative companies that are fueling it, we recommend looking at this year’s MarTech chart. If all the brand names are hard to read, then you’ll find a spreadsheet that highlights the various platform options at the bottom of the post.

We were honored to both speak and engage with various brands and providers throughout this year’s event. It has further fueled our excitement for what lies ahead in the MarTech space, and it has reinvigorated our resolve to keep doing what we do best — helping our clients leverage technology to connect more authentically with their customers.