While no advertisers claim to be using media technology “very effectively”, agencies are more positive about advertiser performance with 41% of respondents suggesting that advertisers are using technology “effectively”, an increase of 17% on 2017, when the research was last carried out.

While these numbers demonstrate real improvement, The 2020 Global Media Technology Report also highlights ongoing difficulties that many marketers have in understanding of technology platforms and their contribution to wider business and media goals.

Only 14% of marketers claim to understand “extremely well or very well” how each technology platform in the marketing stack contributes to the value chain. The remainder rate their understanding as moderate or worse and, worryingly, the scores are the lowest among media professionals (just 9% score themselves “extremely well or very well”).

The findings are based on a survey of 190 senior executives at brands and agencies from around the world, with advertiser respondents representing at least 10 different categories and responsible for more than $20 billion in global ad spend. Agency respondents represented all major holding groups as well as key independent agencies.

The 2020 Global Media Technology Report is part of an ongoing 7Ts® Global Research Project run by ID Comms and started in 2016. Regular reports focus on understanding the seven key media behaviours of successful marketers: Transparency, Talent, Training, Terms, Thinking, Technology and Trading.

This latest report highlights the fact that the most successful advertisers understand the importance of marketing technology as a driver of growth and business success both in normal times and particularly in the strange circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ninety-four percent of respondents agree that the most successful advertisers understand the impact of marketing technology and have a clear strategy for ensuring it adds value rather than complexity, however, many still struggle to get to grips with this space.

Excessive marketplace fragmentation; lack of access to specialist knowledge and capabilities; challenges around integration and limited resources are just some of the reasons given as to why media technology is currently being under-utilised within advertisers’ marketing operations.

“We are seeing improvements in the understanding of marketing technology but with this area moving at such a fast pace, advertisers are struggling to commit the necessary time and resources to take advantage of the business benefits that a smartly designed tech stack can deliver. This really is a critical area for marketers, media professionals and procurement teams to get to grips with,” said Paul Stringer, Consultant at ID Comms

One major challenge in this area is finding the right source of advice. Advertisers remain convinced that specialist technology consultants are best placed to provide advice on technology (25%), next to management consultants (14%).

Agencies score 10% on this question (just ahead of media auditors and internal business analytics teams at 8%) but 86% of advertisers agree to some degree that their inability to keep up with the rapid evolution of the tech landscape has made them overdependent on solutions provided by their agencies.

Agencies tend to be more positive about their ability to provide advice, scoring themselves at 31%. Nonetheless, the general consensus appears to be that advice on technology benefits from a diversity of viewpoints.

Industry feedback

“I think most advertisers are highly confused currently about the real value of martech to their business, especially when it comes to the incremental/additional business value it brings (or not), comparing ‘lots of martech’ (and its high costs) to ‘little martech’ .” Advertiser – Media

“It’s one thing to understand the impact and have a strategy, but it is all the more important to make sure you have a solid internal stakeholders engagement plan due to the complexity of integration with legacy business systems.” Advertiser – Media

“So many brands have invested heavily, but very little are actually using effectively, only adding complexity and limited impact against often very big aspirations.” Agency

“The onus has to be on the advertising and marketing teams to trust themselves and take all perspectives into account, while appreciating that each has their own agenda. It sounds a bit cynical, but I trust each partner to advise within the context of their specialism but wouldn’t expect any of them to provide a holistic view.” Advertiser – Marketing

“I’m very fortunate to work with some exceptional marketers, whom have an excellent grasp on how their advertising technology decisions translate to business performance (therefore I’d vote extremely well) – but this certainly isn’t the case across the board, and thinking of marketers I’ve worked with previously (who I’d rate moderate), I’d find a middle ground of ‘very well’.” Agency

“I believe there are pockets of marketers that can do this, but overall, I think there is little understanding of what goes on inside the black box of many of these technologies.” Advertiser – Procurement

“Driven by the horrors of ad fraud and distrust of the role of agency as vendor and buyer clients have increasingly begun (quite rightly) to distrust the advice received from agencies.” Consultant

“I don’t think media agencies all understand tech stacks. I think they understand their own tech stack and what it can do for an advertiser but the advertiser needs to have people inside who understand how to dialogue with agencies about user journeys and targeting approaches / closing the deals with customers.” Advertiser – Media

“It’s hard to say when there is so much mystery in the supply chain. Results might be good but if you knew how much you could feed back into the system (either working media or resources to plan/buy/assess etc) it seems likely results could be better.” Advertiser – Media

About this survey

ID Comms conducted this research between 11th May and 29th June 2020, and received 190 responses.

The respondents were comprised of Media, Marketing, and Procurement professionals with a range of global, regional and local market responsibilities. Fifty-five percent were based in Europe, 31% were from North America, with the remaining participants coming from Middle East & Africa, Asia Pacific, Australia and New Zealand, and Latin America.

The advertisers that responded to this survey represent a wide variety of brands in diverse categories including FMCG/ CPG, retail, pharmaceutical, food and drink, entertainment, automotive, luxury, finance, energy, and telecommunications, with a combined global media investment in excess of $20bn.

The 7Ts® Global Research Project started in 2016 and has looked at the seven media behaviours of successful marketers: Transparency, Talent, Training, Terms, Thinking, Technology & Trading. The second wave of our research began in 2018, having completed wave 1 of this research in 2017.

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