There has been much written and discussed about martech (marketing technology), and now, a new report from Forrester Research, “Kick-Start Your AdTech/Martech Convergence,” examines what loyalty marketers need to consider to make this happen.

Much of the advantage of these martech systems lies in the ability to personalize messaging and offers.

According to the report, Ad tech and Martech convergence is a popular topic among marketers, vendors, and investors, but real progress toward convergence is still in its infancy stages.

Most marketers are looking to the medium to long term to realize their convergence aspirations. This report suggests they can get started by focusing on mastering one particular customer identifier that is familiar, persistent, common, and people based--- email addresses.

“Marketing leaders today recognize that ad tech and artech convergence is important, but the majority of firms haven’t yet taken real action to make it happen,” the report says. “Thirty-five percent are taking action today (implementing or finished implementation). The majority of firms, however, say they are still in a talking stage (discussing or planning). Only 7 percent of firms say they don’t plan or haven’t discussed ad tech/martech convergence.”

One of the main challenges cited in the report is that marketers struggle to articulate the problem to take effective steps toward ad tech/martech convergence.

“Marketers need to first overcome capability and perception hurdles in their path,” the report says. “More than half of marketers believe 25 percent or more of their colleagues don’t understand the difference between advertising and marketing technology. Many marketers struggle with measurement and advanced advertising capabilities.”

Marketers must break down internal divisions and data silos, the report notes.

“The path forward for marketers achieving ad tech and martech convergence centers on the consolidation of customer data to drive cohesive insights and engagement across touch points and devices,” the report says. “Marketers in our study ranked customer data consolidation as one of their chief barriers to ad tech/martech convergence. Collecting and consolidating the data is also only the first step—this data must be used and activated to be fully effective. Marketers told us they also face significant challenges with coordinating across silos—both internal (between company departments) and external (with vendors and agencies)—and fear that converged ad tech/martech technology would cost too much.”

Email is a major component in driving data consolidation, as nearly 90 percent of respondents indicated that a customer’s email address was valuable or extremely valuable to them.

“While email alone isn’t sufficient for enabling customer data consolidation, it works as a good starting point,” the report says, “because it’s familiar. Marketers have been collecting and working with email addresses for many years. It’s persistent: Email is used across sites and across time. It’s common. Email registrations tie customer activity together across a customer’s entire digital footprint. It’s people-based. It’s deterministic, or tied to an individual rather than a household or device.”

Marketers, the study notes, must “look for a foothold—and customer email addresses have many qualities that make them a good (though not exhaustively sufficient) first step toward the kinds of data consolidation that must drive effective technology convergence.”

According to the report, nearly three-quarters of firms are a year or more away from integration today, and the timeline is indefinite (two years or more) for 40 percent of firms.

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