The precarious predicament of point solutions

 

Reminiscent of the once popular magic eye pictures of the 1990s, the current martech LUMAscape is a colourful but confusing blur of point solutions, which have emerged onto the market over the years.

Regular visitors to Mobile World Congress and dmexco will know only too well that the number of new companies offering martech solutions has reached an all-time high.

But is it sensible for brands and their agencies to invest in these small, innovative feature businesses?

Should they be looking for more established partners that can offer a wider range of services?

Industry challenges

With burning issues such as viewability, ad blocking, and ad fraud affecting companies large and small, 2017 is certainly a challenging time for the industry.

As illustrated by the recent closure of anti-fraud company, Telemetry, in the aftermath of Methbot; a single turn of events such as a negative news story or withdrawal of funding can so easily spell the end for point solution providers.

many are wasting time jerry-rigging their own marketing stacks from disparate point solutions

Aside from the economic risks involved in deploying point solutions, advertisers and agencies may also find they need to invest in additional resources to properly integrate the technologies with their existing software.

Many are wasting time jerry-rigging their own marketing stacks from disparate point solutions that ultimately result in increased costs and unnecessary friction. Marketers should instead ask themselves: what is the total cost of ownership of this stack?

The pursuit of best-in-breed will not be worthwhile if the difference in KPIs is marginal and the percentage of non-working pounds – often hidden from view – increases.

Workflows are complex enough, and this approach will only complicate processes further.

An additional pitfall of relying on point solutions is that by focusing entirely on the deployment of potentially disparate solutions, many companies are failing to recognise how each fits into the wider marketing picture, which can have a detrimental impact on the rest of their marketing operations.

This lack of transparency isn’t just limited to campaign performance, it can also have an impact on data security and privacy, with different levels of protection offered by different vendors, which is a particularly thorny issue as EU GDPR looms into view.

point solutions are complex to integrate and present challenges around data ownership, security and transparency

Brands, along with agencies, will always be keen to invest in the latest point solutions, which promise unrivalled technology and innovation to address one specific marketing need.

But point solutions are complex to integrate and present challenges around data ownership, security and transparency. In a world where start-ups have little economic stability, it’s time for brands to put their trust in more established technology partners – that can address a wider range of marketing needs by offering a whole host or ‘suite’, of solutions – and are more resilient to industry setbacks.

Opting for a more established, multifunction platform provides marketers with a holistic view of their campaigns at any given time, as well as increased control over how data is being used. Plus these solutions can be used independently with minimal integration.

Sustaining the industry

A world in which two publishers operating in walled gardens – Google and Facebook – are set to take 71% of UK online ad revenue by 2020, is not a signal of a competitive industry.

brands and agencies need to find that middle ground between point providers and tech giants

But the current overabundance of point solutions is equally unhealthy as it fractures the marketing dollars that don’t go to these major players into minute pieces, and makes it increasingly difficult for the other scaled players to challenge their hegemony.

Brands and agencies need to find that all-important middle ground between point providers and tech giants, and will naturally be drawn towards more robust, multifunction solutions that can offer both longevity and stability, as well as a diverse and innovative range of integrated marketing solutions.

Given the complexity of today’s customer journey, making use of a full-stack marketing suite to connect the dots between customer interactions is paramount. But that stack has to be flexible, open to integrations and understand the importance of brand access to data .

To ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry and the best marketing opportunities for everyone, it’s time marketers considered the pitfalls of point solutions and embraced technological innovation through scaled full-stack offerings that truly have their interests top of mind.

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