MarTech vs AdTech: 5 Differences You Can't Afford to Ignore


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, August 3, 2020

Are you confused by talk of MarTech and AdTech? Not sure what the difference between the two is? Read on to learn more.

Article 6 Minutes
MarTech vs AdTech: 5 Differences You Can't Afford to Ignore

The marketing sector today is more digitally-focused than ever, and it has to be in order to keep up with the changing behavior patterns of customers. Audiences are now active across a wide variety of platforms, and keeping up with these and tailoring your messaging for all of them is becoming ever-more complex.

Therefore, a wide variety of technology solutions have emerged to take the hassle out of this and give marketing pros a better chance of successfully reaching their target audience.

However, this can create some confusion. While there are a wide range of technologies available for these professionals to use, you might hear them referred to as either MarTech or AdTech, and it may not always be clear what the difference is between the two, or why any distinction matters.

MarTech vs AdTech: what's the difference?

Marketing technology (MarTech) and advertising technology (AdTech) are indeed closely related, and at first glance there appears to be a significant degree of crossover between the two.

However, the differences are more than a matter of terminology, as the two areas have distinct roles to play in a comprehensive marketing strategy. They’ll have their own platforms and ways of operating, so understanding the difference between them is vital in choosing the right solutions.

What is MarTech?

In general terms, MarTech refers to the technology used to develop and execute a digital marketing strategy, including elements such as lead generation, nurturing and conversion.

Some of the common technology tools used as a part of this include:

  • Content marketing platforms
  • Email marketing software
  • Automation tools
  • Analytics software
  • Social media management
  • CRM platforms

Learn more: Which Marketing Tools Does Your Business Need?

What is AdTech?

AdTech, on the other hand, usually refers to tools used for paid digital advertising. In the same way that advertising generally can be viewed as a subset of marketing, so AdTech is a subcategory of MarTech - but as it focuses on more specific solutions, the terms shouldn't be used interchangeably. Some key technologies that fall under the AdTech banner include:

To stay ahead of your competition and get more value from your digital advertising, it's important that you're up to date with the latest AdTech trends.

Learn more: MarTech vs Marketing Automation: What’s the Difference?

5 areas where MarTech and AdTech diverge

Understanding the differences between the two helps ensure your strategy is working as efficiently as possible. It means you'll be better able to assign resources and budget within your departments, run campaigns using the right platforms, and develop a holistic approach that covers all your bases. Here are some of the key things you need to know about:

1. Role

At a high level, AdTech is focused on creating better, more relevant and more targeted advertising campaigns. It means identifying which approaches and platforms will work best, gathering analytics from campaigns and ensuring your paid marketing efforts are in getting front of the right people.

MarTech, on the other hand, is more about cultivating and improving leads, driving conversions and developing relationships with both new and existing customers. It covers elements like

2. Media

AdTech means paid media, which could include:

  • PPC
  • Sponsored social media posts
  • Display ads

MarTech, on the other hand, covers unpaid media, including:

  • Organic search
  • Social posting
  • Email marketing

This is an area where there’s likely to be crossover - for example if you're using both traditional social posting and paid-for promoted posts on the same platform. However, understanding what counts as paid media and what doesn’t is essential because it helps marketing teams plan their activities more effectively.

3. Target audience

Like most forms of advertising, AdTech is designed for campaigns aimed at a wider, more generic audience. Often, these solutions are aimed at consumers who aren’t yet your customers who you may have little information on. Therefore, analytics tools are essential in determining the success of these activities, such as viewing numbers and clickthrough rates.

MarTech is usually more targeted, however. So, for example, when it comes to email marketing to people who signed up to your website or downloaded an asset, you can be reasonably confident your audience will be receptive to your messaging. Working from a known database of customers that offers more details about demographics and behavior also offers a more personal, one-to-one connection.

4. Billing model

Typically, MarTech solutions are delivered via the cloud and paid for on a monthly basis with a fixed subscription, making it a simple and predictable operational expense.

AdTech solutions, meanwhile, will likely primarily charge based on metrics such as CPM, as well as either a fixed fee or a percentage commission on top. There’ll usually be an agreed minimum monthly spend, but beyond this, the amount you pay can vary widely depending on the type of campaign and the results you see.

However, this distinction may not be as clear-cut as in the past, as a growing number of AdTech providers are offering services with a fixed subscription cost more akin to MarTech, aimed at customers who are wary of the unpredictability of the traditional model, so look closely to be certain of what you're getting.

5. Management

There’s often a distinction between AdTech and MarTech when it comes to who’s managing the efforts. MarTech solutions are usually controlled directly by in-house marketing teams, as their activities are more likely to involve direct interactions with an existing customer base.

AdTech services, however, are more likely to come under the purview of third-party agencies or even advertisers themselves, who are often more capable of reaching out to new customers more effectively and passing on promising leads to in-house teams for nurturing through MarTech.

Where MarTech and AdTech converge - and why this matters

While at a high level, it's easy to define AdTech and MarTech as relating to paid and unpaid media respectively, there’s an increasing amount of convergence between the two disciplines.

By working in close harmony, these two areas can present a wide range of opportunities for businesses to improve their marketing efforts, identify the most promising potential new customers, and extend their relationships with existing ones.

Being able to share data between platforms allows marketers to gain greater insight into the customer journey and take advantage of the economies of scale offered by advertising partners, while for AdTech providers, access to MarTech data helps them expand their role to better target potential customers and guide them more effectively into the marketing funnel.

Ultimately, this will enable you to build a better brand and engage more directly with customers, providing a higher-quality experience right from the start of the relationship that can be developed and enjoyed for years to come.

Further reading:


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