How the pandemic affected marketing technology replacements
The MarTech replacement Survey has shown marketing teams were not afraid to swap technology, but with resources tight existing staff had to learn these new tools.
For the past few weeks, we’ve been highlighting the changes marketing teams made to their technology stacks in the past year and found that despite the upheaval of the coronavirus pandemic organizations replaced plenty of tools and platforms. However, the MarTech Replacement Survey did discover that the pandemic affected how teams staffed up to manage these new technologies.
When asked whether new staff were hired in conjunction with the replacement, no fewer than 43% of the respondents in the 2019 survey reported hiring a new team. Only 26% retrained existing staff, while 24% took a mixed approach.
But In this latest survey, the answer was dramatically different. 55% retrained the existing team. Only 18% hired a new team. 24% reported a mix of new hires and retraining, while relying on an outside agency was down from 8% to 3%.
We didn’t ask whether this decision was related to the pandemic, but it’s easy to imagine that this was a period to avoid casting people adrift or adding headcount in uncertain economic weather.
Replacement case: Building a homegrown video player
Full-service ad management platform Mediavine manages the digital ad load for some 8,000 publishers. Last year, in the midst of pandemic lockdowns, a good number of advertisers pulled out, straining publisher budgets across many categories, including travel and consumer packaged goods.
At the same time, audiences were consuming much more digital content. But what was the point in running a toilet paper ad when no rolls were in stock?
“We tried to figure out what we could do to get creative and boost revenue for our partners,” said Mediavine’s SVP of Sales and Revenue Phil Bohn.
Rather than purchasing an out-of-the-box solution, Mediavine decided to build their own outstream video player, a type of technology that allows publishers to serve video ads without producing any video content of their own.
“We probably doubled our engineering sources over the last year, hiring over 40 people and currently filling another 15 open positions,” Bohn said.
“With increased inventory and lack of demand during the pandemic, we created an in-house PSA program,” he added. If no ads are serving through a particular ad slot, publishers can choose to run PSAs.
Nearly half influenced by the pandemic
When we asked respondents whether conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic factored into marketing technology replacement decisions, the audience was split, with the slight majority (52%) favoring no. That’s close enough to be a virtual tie.
It’s surprising because the general perception is that the events of the last year to 15 months created an environment where brands needed to vastly accelerate a digital transformation which, for many of them, was already underway. It was a period when brands were under compulsion to find new and effective (and empathetic) ways of engaging with customers who were no longer showing up to in-person meetings and demos or visiting brick-and-mortar retail locations.
The kinds of replacements we’ve seen — marketing automation, email delivery — seemed consistent with the pandemic-related digital transformation story. But perhaps that’s too simple. Perhaps we’re really looking at a realization of plans which were underway before COVID-19, and which were driven by other considerations.
Replacement case: Consolidating project management
Three years ago, when Casey Bolduc joined Massachusetts- based solar power company ACE Solar, project management was not tied to a central tool.
“A lot of the industry runs off of spreadsheets,” Bolduc said. “One of my main missions was to get my team on board, and streamline and automate to make more efficiencies. I had a lot of flexibility with integrations, ensuring that things can get integrated, not only on the marketing side, but with operations.”
Bolduc opted for Scoop Solar, a project management solution geared specifically toward the solar industry.
Managing workflow and projects on a single platform eliminated manual email communications and the sharing of data in a disjointed way.
ACE Solar executes solar energy projects for commercial and residential buildings throughout New England. Depending on which state the project is in, there are a number of forms that need to be found by contractors and others involved. All of these forms are easily accessed through Scoop.
Having a unified workflow means that marketing can work with operations out on the field. For instance, a picture of a new project can be used by marketing to show other prospects.
“We had already been doing remote site visits and assessments,” Bolduc said. “COVID-19 actually made it easier, with people setting up appointments on Calendly and meeting over Google Meet.”