Digital ad spend reached more than $72 Billion in last year (to TV’s $71 Billion), and surpassed even the most seasoned forecaster’s outlook. Meanwhile the Ad Tech industry is experiencing two distinct and opposing trends -- consolidation is happening at an increased clip, while select companies are growing at significant double digit rates.
How do companies ensure that they end up on a growth trajectory, and not swallowed up by the competition?
In crowded markets, successful companies share one key trait: they offer something unique that no other company has. This is a simple but powerful concept which is taught in every business school around the world: differentiation.
There are as many possibilities for differentiation as the imagination allows. However, the three tactics below have enabled companies to rise above the fray while also capturing substantially higher margins and growth rates than their peer set:
At the end of the day, marketers form relationships with people. In order to do this effectively, it is extremely helpful to know who and where these people are. And in order to do this even more effectively, it is great to be able to reach an audience in a way no one else can. This can be achieved by owning a unique data set. In other words, “owning the user” is all about creating a data collection point based on an area of expertise specific to your business. This enables you to garner information which only you have and which your business can use to form deeper relationships with your audience.
A fully integrated tech stack means that you have thought of all the ways the tools you offer connect with each other to deliver value to your customer. The idea here is that the sum should be greater than its parts. While stacking disparate tech tools available in the marketplace may allow you to check all the boxes on an RFP, tying them all together to tell a unique story is what will allow for innovation and a distinctive position in the marketplace. This strategy can be capital intensive and often calls for a series of build/buy/partner decisions. For this strategy to yield optimal returns and decisive differentiation, you'll need two things. First, you must have viable plans to connect the new and existing assets to create an offering that is new to the industry. Second, this new offering must solve customer issues and deliver value in order to create a sustainable business path.
Solving a problem to address the needs of a specific market both requires and provides laser focus. It enables you to become an expert at anticipating your clients’ needs. A good example here is healthcare. It is an industry that has yet to fully benefit from the innovations of Ad Tech due to stringent regulations. Addressing this vertical calls for a deep understanding of the parameters within which your clients operate, understanding and anticipating their pain points, and developing offerings specific to their needs. This approach not only benefits from a singular external objective, but is also necessitates internal alignment of all teams - from marketing to operations to sales to engineering - in order to deliver the ultimate experience for your target vertical and secure a leadership position.
Marketing technology is still evolving. While there are many unknowns, one thing is and always has been certain, differentiation is key for success. Determining where your business can provide a unique offering will enable you to break away from the pack and create a sustainable enterprise.
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