MarTech Conference: Scott Brinker shares his thinking behind this year’s huge MarTech Landscape

Such as: companies with “blue” in their name, the “third dimension” in digital marketing, and the possible peaking of new martech firms.

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Scott Brinker

Scott Brinker and his 2016 Marketing Technology Landscape

The now-legendary Marketing Technology Landscape — whose 2016 version was released today at our MarTech conference in San Francisco — has so many tiny logos that creator Scott Brinker half-jokingly suggested that vendors offer free magnifying glasses as part of their giveaways.

“This is the squinting conference,” he told the audience during his keynote address. This year’s Landscape features 3,874 logos, compared to about 2,000 last year and 150 for its inaugural version in 2011.

To create his newest take on the marketing software scene, Brinker — who also serves as chair of the MarTech conference — said he decided to start from scratch instead of modifying last year’s.

He noted a few trends for this year. For instance, there are a lot of companies with “blue” in their name – Blueshift and Bluecore, to name a few — and a number of firms that feature buzz, bees and hive, like one called BuzzPortal. He thought of creating a playful category to combine both, to be called Blue Hives, but then found out that there was not only one company with that name, but two.

On the more substantial side, the largest categories this year include social media marketing, content marketing, display and programmatic ads and sales enablement/sales intelligence.

The two biggest factors behind the headlong growth in this field, Brinker told the MarTech conference, are not only that “the scope of marketing has grown, probably by an order of magnitude, [but] the scope of software success has grown.”

The latter factor means that many smaller software companies can succeed, even though they remain small. When the smaller creatures can prosper under the feet of the big animals, it quickly becomes a jungle.

But, Brinker said, “my guess is we are seeing peak marketing,” in that the number of new companies could begin to slow down and the existing ones may coalesce. But he admitted, it was just a hunch.

He pointed out that at the same time, “we’re still in the early years of martech adoption,” so the curve of companies adopting these software tools is still low but rising.

Marketers are also just beginning to learn how to use what he called “the third dimension” of martech software, which Brinker called the Mechanisms. In his view, it complements the Message and Media parts of marketing communications and represents how software behaves with users, including user flow and interaction. When shown as a Venn diagram of overlapping circles, he said, the center where Message, Media, and Mechanism all intersect is Customer Experience.

Current incarnations of these still-evolving Mechanisms, he noted, include online assessment, calculators, quizzes and configurators.

Brinker also noted that another key challenge for digital marketers is balancing innovation and scalability, a balancing act familiar to many IT departments.

This has led to “bimodal marketing” for many practitioners, he said, where perhaps 70 percent of their marketing software tools are core, stable, scalable technology while the rest are more on the edge — innovative, new and less scalable because they are new. A key part of the challenge lies in transitioning edge tech to core.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

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