Whooooosh. There goes another year, hurtling on by. It's been another challenging one, both for marketers, and for all those other people who aren't marketers. Whoever they are.
The pandemic still has its grubby little claws on all parts of the industry, leaving a lasting impact on consumer behaviour, and pushing all of us to rely on online channels.
Basically, everything was shaken up. The plans companies had for five or ten year transformation roadmaps were null and void. According to Scott Brinker:
Covid hit and essentially it was like punctuated equilibrium in evolutionary theory. It’s this idea that basically this cataclysmic event happens and it’s a case of adapt or die.
So, digital transformation needed to speed up, and martech jumped in to help. Whatever channels, platforms, or devices customers use, marketing technology is vital for the success of marketing. Well, it's not an addition to marketing. It is marketing.
Our 2021 Trends & 2022 Predictions for Martech and Marketing puts aaaaaalll of this into context. It details what we've learnt from the last year, and how we can apply it to the future. Most importantly, it shows us the benefits and developments of the industry, and how it can impact marketers from all fields.
There are challenges, of course. Technology can be complex, at different levels of maturity. Plus, not every employee already has the skills to use it, leading to a pretty significant talent gap and shortage.
Using these advancements and issues as a roadmap, we can predict what marketers will face this year, and how they can prepare to overcome issues. Let's jump into our first prediction:
Number One: Martech budgets will continue to grow
Okay, okay. I'm sure you're like "Of course you'd say that, MarTech Alliance. Half of your name is martech." Hey, it's not our fault martech has, and will continue to hold, an extremely strong position in marketing budgets.
In our Martech Report, we found that martech accounted for 23% of marketing budgets, second only to staff and labour costs. Plus, 61% of marketers are planning on increasing budgets.
Number Two: Realising the potential of Web 3.0
I'm sure you've heard nothing but the words "web 3.0", "The Metaverse" and "NFTs" for the last year. But Web 3.0 is set to become mainstream in 2022.
The decentralised technologies that have exploded in the last few years - De-Fi, Blockchain, AR Cloud, Distributed ledgers, AI and ML, The Metaverse - will mean a move towards data decentralisation and a transparent, secure internet. Something that seems almost alien compared to Web 2.0's centralisation, data surveillance, and all-too-accurate prevalent advertising.
So, this has all been accelerated, in part, by the shortcomings of the previous webs. The accumulation of control and power within centralised companies had far reaching, and enduring, impacts. From banks, to social platforms, even to companies taking ownership and monetising creators' works, trust was lost.
Dragon Den's Steven Bartlett even sees Web 3.9 as a way to aid the creator economy, telling us:
You can now own the thing you create…I can now tokenise my community.
That means if you’re a ticketing company, if you’re a fashion brand, if you're an entrepreneur, if you’re a creator, you can now own the things you create”.
Robert Rose sees huge potential for disruption through this decentralisation:
“If I had to pick a word for my prediction of 2022, it would be decentralised. I think it’s all going to be about how are we as a business reacting to the disruption that is decentralisation, because so much of that is going to be disruptive to those centralised areas of transactions, whether it be your financial centre, your transactional centre, wherever those things are happening.
The real disruption of web 3.0 is how those things now become decentralised and more peer to peer. And how can you differentiate in that market space because it’s still very early. I think decentralisation and how we’re reacting to it will become the theme of 2022.”
Number Three: Continued martech talent shortages will drive the need for more training
One issue which arises when a technology grows rapidly is that there's pressure put on employees to keep up. And there's no exception with martech.
In fact, martech has grown so quickly that we're seeing huge talent gaps.
57% of respondents to our survey agreed that it’s challenging to find people with the required knowledge around martech and marketing ops.
In the view of Jaime López, firms need to look after martech talent and make them feel valued:
“If you manage a team, look after your people, make sure they feel valued, and offer them the conditions and development opportunities that will make it worth their while to stay. If you are looking to hire martech-skilled people, offer them a fair deal, support and a promising path ahead.”
- Jaime López
So, what's the solution? Well, it's all about hiring or upskilling. The skills gap has worsened what is being dubbed the 'talent war', due to the industry-wide lack of martech knowledge. But it's not just about the lack of martech skills in your team, the lack of martech skills in the industry can impact if businesses can keep up with technological advancements and potential progress.
A significant skills gap will lead to a war for talent as adoption of martech continues to accelerate, and, for agencies that are able to lead clients with tried and trusted frameworks for implementation, there will be significant commercial advantage.”
- Robert Husband, Media Partner, Moore Kingston Smith
All this means that training can be the difference between staying competitive, or falling behind. Remember, if your team is highly skilled, they become some of the most knowledgeable members of the industry.
Number Four: Companies which adapted to Covid will have a competitive advantage
The question will be: did your company hide below decks during Covid, waiting for everything to blow over with a nice pint, or did they adapt to the new climate?
Well, we predict that companies which chose to adapt to the shock of the pandemic will have turned to the lifeboat of martech. This early adoption of tech will put them knots ahead. Okay, that's the end of the boat metaphors.
Romek Janson believes how businesses reacted to the last year, will determine their years to come:
“Covid has conditioned us to make brave decisions. There is more appetite for risk and bold moves. Companies will redefine who they are, and how that’s reflected in brands and services. MarTech stacks will gradually grow into virtual offices and become valuable company assets on their own with a competitive advantage.
Robert Rose agrees:, stating that companies which played it safe are likely to lose out. Robert notes that the lack of big failures which indicates the lack of risk-taking. There's usually a case of someone falling flat on their face. But instead, 2021 has been an example of what Rob calls "check the box marketing" - companies have been so scared of failure, they've refused any creativity that comes from risk.
Number Five: Martech companies will be looking to acquire media firms
“HubSpot has been doing this for a long time, like when you saw them buy the 1.5m audience group of The Hustle. So they’re first to the wall with a big deal like this. I think you’re gonna see this because of the cash companies have, and the lack of patience. It takes 12 to 18 months, sometimes three years to really build out an audience.
No CMO with cash wants to spend that kind of time. Then you need the availability of really good media platforms to purchase - I’ve never seen so many amazing media companies than right now.
- Joe Pulizzi
Audiences can take time to develop so, if tech companies have the resources, why not go out and buy a media company? Well, that's exactly what some are doing, some plan to do, and what we predict will happen more and more in the next year.
Tech companies looking to build an audience face the choice of putting the time and effort into building that audience organically, and speeding this up by acquiring existing audiences.
Joe also thinks you'll see media companies go out and buy these media enterprises, but you’ll also see media companies going out and buying tech and software companies.
"So we’re all selling media, and we’re all selling products and services, So what’s the difference?”
Check out the full report ✨ here! ✨Click it. Click it. Go on. 🖱️