Recently, I found myself at the front of a room delivering a presentation on publisher readiness, and how my favorite coined phrase, ‘MaDTech’ would play a role in future successes. Do you know what happened? They listened, they engaged and they asked questions. If you regularly find yourself in the position of speaking to large groups of people, you’ll know that audience participation can literally mean showing up and clapping when it’s over – actual verbal exchanges can be pretty scarce.

It’s rare today to find people who are actively looking to make changes and evolve. Businesses tend to pay lip service to the notion of change; they’ll attend conferences, soak up specialist knowledge from experienced speakers and then remain rooted to the same course of action as always. It’s predictable, but not entirely without reason.

Changing mindsets requires more than just words – it takes commitment and a willingness to adapt. Yes, it may be daunting at first, but taking back control is also empowering. What I found particularly refreshing with this most recent audience was how they absorbed the information, but then challenged and questioned it, wanting to know more about how they could apply this to their own business models.

While it’s true we’re still fighting the fires of misinformation and realigning negative perceptions to show the value of programmatic today, there is also a very real inclination from publishers and agencies alike to understand more about what ad-tech solutions are available and how they can be utilized to maximum effect.

Education, in this context becomes even more important; we need to continue to close this knowledge gap in order for our partners to take advantage of various technologies, demystifying the buzzwords and going back to basics. Sure, the concept of ‘MaDTech’ may sound, well, mad, but in reality, it’s a consolidation of advertising and marketing tech solutions that aim to bring offline and online together to form one complete picture.

Take AI and Machine Learning. This technology has advanced in recent years, beyond cartoon depictions of robots and ‘The Terminator’ to show real value in taking businesses to the next level of measurement, analytics and better monetization. It’s true that algorithms are increasingly shaping our platforms as we know them, but that’s not to say the human element isn’t still a key component in driving forward this progress.

Technology, however brilliant, needs steering by its capable human counterparts, selecting the right solutions, whether that be ad-tech, mar-tech or a combination of both. It’s this blend of ‘MaDTech’ which is becoming more significant as a tool to fuel effectiveness overall, helping to maximize ROI and generate value in today’s increasingly complex advertising landscape.

What needs to be made clear is that MaDTech isn’t a trade-off; it’s an evolution between the two solutions that previously sat in silo. It’s a necessary development too, especially given the increasingly overlapping marketing and advertising functions of each business, and the need for complete oversight in the race to true personalization.

Harvesting data is no longer the problem – that conversation is all but irrelevant now. Today, the focus is shifting to how we use this data to glean tangible insights and power decisions based on this knowledge. This combination of technologies will prove invaluable in this aim, aligning first-party data collection with the scale and reach required to act on individual insights, helping to monitor, report and analyze all activity effectively.

This era of customizable solutions is very indicative of the advertising climate today. Ad-tech consolidation is becoming more apparent, with mar-tech and ad-tech on course to collide even more, propelling MaDTech further into the mainstream. As a result, we’re likely to see deeper hyper-personalization and targeting capabilities, combined with the ability to create custom layouts that engage and resonate with consumers at every touchpoint. In other words, we’re looking at the automation of data collection, which is then matched, targeted, and segmented by blending CRM data with the behavioral data of online users through DMPs to produce these compelling advertising experiences.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? Truthfully, the hesitation to actually make this technological leap is still a very real hurdle we have to overcome, something which isn’t helped by persistent data and privacy concerns. The buzzword of the day at my session was ‘compliance’, which is a perfect snapshot of the industry’s mindset right now.

It’s been one year (and one month, if we’re striving for accuracy here) since GDPR came into effect. The commentary on its implementation has been varied, but beyond the mass scramble and predicted fallout, it’s clear there is still work to be done and more regulatory framework to be deployed. Marketing Land recently asked the question: “Is GDPR another Y2K moment, or a sea change for the digital ecosystem?” and I’m inclined to lean more towards the latter. GDPR has opened up the conversation about data privacy and consent, improving transparency in the ecosystem and rebuilding trust between consumers and advertisers all the more.

What shouldn’t happen as a direct consequence of GDPR and other regulatory threats is over caution and a reluctance to adapt. There’s no doubt that tech is the driver for change, and those who confidently use ad-tech to its full potential will see it pay dividends in the coming years, as we move to further automation and more technological-driven solutions in every business function.

The industry needs more innovators, more rule breakers and more ad-tech heroes to challenge our current course of action. Asking questions is the first step, next up is execution – working with us to continue reshaping this landscape, elevating our joint offering and adding mutual value in the process. In terms of realizing the need for technology today, that ship has long since sailed, but as I said when concluding my talk, what we’re offering is the backup boats you need to succeed. So, why not come aboard and let’s see what we can create together?

Written by Nader Bitar,
Deputy General Manager