Just about 10 years into the ascent of ‘all-things-digital’, Forrester Research in 2004 issued a report called “Left Brain Marketing.” The report’s author, Eric Schmitt, was prescient regarding the impending skew away from creativity and marketing’s emotional and psychological roots that was about to take place in the wake of marketers’ insatiable demand for Modern Marketing measurability and attribution.
According to the executive summary: "Three technology trends – media fragmentation, addressability and interactivity – are converging on the world of marketing and advertising. In a new era of Left Brain Marketing, analytical strategies grounded in deep audience knowledge will rise to predominance. Creative will remain essential but will play a smaller … role.”
By 2006, Marketing Automation platforms were gaining traction with the promise of enabling marketers to more directly drive, measure and attribute results (including revenue!). The game had changed in B2B marketing, and the game was on for modern martech.
Fast forward to 2017. A Gartner survey of U.K. and U.S. enterprise marketers reported that, on average, 22% of B2B marketing budgets was being allocated to martech, on par with labor, paid media and services. Many other surveys show staggering growth in martech adoption and investment. In 2018, the famous Chiefmartec.com landscape “supergraphic” was expected to reveal contraction. Yet, the number of martech solutions expanded yet again – by a considerable percentage.
Yet another recent study, this one by Wipro Digital, shows that according to the CMOs themselves, “CMOs need martech skills above all else.” Clearly, martech has risen and seemingly will keep rising in prominence and predominance.
Or will it?
"Three technology trends-media fragmentation, addressability and interactivity - are converging on the world of marketing and advertising. In a new era of Left Brain Marketing, analytical strategies grounded in deep audience knowledge will rise to predominance. Creative will remain essential but will play a smaller… role”Eric Schmitt, Left Brain Marketing
For all the data supporting martech growth, there many other reports indicating that marketers’ proficiency in utilizing martech and realizing the desired benefits lag far behind the current level of investment.
This begs the question: Are the massive bets marketers are placing on martech not yet paying off? And is martech actually starting to level off or decline because of this?
In my view, the answer is no. Martech is not falling and, inevitably, will continue to rise. But as this B2B Marketing report indicates, many marketers grappling with enormous new complexities – whether data issues, integration issues, talent and skill sets, or the relentless and breakneck pace of change. Perhaps most importantly, many markers are seeking to re-balance right brain emotion and creativity with Modern Marketing’s left brain lean to data-driven segmentation, messaging alignment and measurement.
At Stein IAS, we believe this re-set and re-balance is ushering in a new age of Post-Modern Marketing, in which creative and content experiences will rise to new heights powered by a growing grasp of digital technologies as well as immensely powerful future technologies bearing down upon us.
But clearly, the die is cast. Because of martech, marketers are now firmly on the hook for measures that matter – not vanity metrics but real business impact metrics. And that’s a good thing.
The opportunity exists right now for marketers to own the buyer experience, customer experience and revenue velocity. The opportunity exists today to integrate martech and adtech for far more intelligent and effective media activations. And the imperative exists to lead a renaissance in bold, brave, beautiful creative and content experiences that enliven martech and turn “automation” from templated repetition into more relevant, resonant human connection.