Growing digital advertising revenue is a primary business objective for virtually every publisher. But, consumers have lost patience with over-saturation and poorly targeted ads that detract from their experience. Looking to drive revenue without driving audiences away, publishers are eager to implement solutions that satisfy their business objectives, while also satisfying their audiences’ demands for relevance, personalization, and value in the ads and content they see.

The convergence of AdTech and MarTech is helping to solve this challenge by enabling publishers to leverage audience data to connect the dots and deliver the right message at the right time to the right viewer across every channel. And you might be surprised to learn that there’s no super-secret, newfangled technology that’s enabling this miracle of cross-channel personalization. In fact, there’s a somewhat unexpected, yet tried-and-true staple of audience engagement at the heart of this convergence: email. 

The Role of Two Techs

With the surge in real-time bidding, programmatic buying and other AdTech solutions, digital advertising revenue reached an all-time high of $40.1B in the first half of 2017, jumping over 20% from the previous year. The upward trend is being driven largely by traditional publishers buying into AdTech, looking to better monetize and adapt their businesses to the new norm of digital-first.

For its part, AdTech generally serves to bring in new leads, to attract new viewers/readers/audiences at scale. AdTech deals with data in the millions and billions of records, primarily anonymous information, untied to any specific individual. This breadth has enabled publishers to reach a large-scale audience.

But, once you’ve brought them in, then what? How do you turn those leads into loyal customers? That’s where MarTech comes in. MarTech, such as CRM platforms, allows publishers to personalize the experience and nurture a relationship based on the users’ known interests and intent. The difference is that, in order to do so, MarTech requires a user identity–some single identifying characteristic by which to tie demographic and behavioral data, like click history, content preferences, etc., to a specific user. Many MarTech solutions use email as the identifier because there’s an actual person behind the address, allowing publishers to create a relevant, individual experience. 

The Benefit of Convergence

By bringing these two technologies together, publishers can achieve a successful handoff between lead generation and nurturing at scale. AdTech brings audiences in, and MarTech continues the conversation by creating CRM records and beginning to build a profile for incoming anonymous AdTech leads. By doing so, AdTech enables MarTech to reach its goals at scale.

This enables publishers to deliver relevant, personalized ads at a much larger scale and even to optimize content based on known preferences. With greater relevance and targeting, ads can now become legitimate engagement tools that add value to the customer experience and relationship, helping to establish that one-to-one connection.

Achieving this convergence is easier said than done, however. There are technological challenges involved in integrating and synchronizing this “hand-off” across multiple AdTech and MarTech platforms. And, of course, there is the issue of how to identify an individual user consistently across this process to build a profile for personalization 

Email at the Heart of it All

For publishers, email is one of the best and easiest starting points for tackling AdTech/MarTech convergence. It’s already becoming a powerful way to generate revenue by adding native ads and exclusive email sponsorships. And, unlike browser-based cookies and even device-based targeting, an email address is tied to an actual person, not a device, which might be shared by multiple people. This makes email-based ad targeting much more accurate and effective.

Most people also use the same email address to create user profiles across multiple channels, allowing email to be used as a unifying identifier, linking an individual’s profile and behavior across multiple channels–the web, email, social and even emerging channels like notifications. This makes it easy for publishers to not only gather user data across every touchpoint, but also use that data to deliver a personalized experience across every touchpoint. 

This convergence of AdTech/MarTech using email as the unifying identifier creates a better audience experience through personalization, and it helps publishers to overcome the shortcomings of social channels in their engagement and monetization programs. As platform policy changes have driven publishers’ content off the newsfeed, it’s becoming clear that publishers’ inability to control whether content is displayed is leaving gaps in revenue. Achieving AdTech/MarTech conversion can help to diversify traffic sources and put publishers more in control and less at the mercy of third-party platforms.

Precision at Scale and Greater Relevance

As it turns out, AdTech and MarTech are actually two sides of the same coin. Both serve to optimize communication with audiences to maximize engagement and revenue. But, because today’s consumer demands a more meaningful and relevant experience at every stage, publishers must do more to deliver.

Converging AdTech and MarTech together effectively positions publishers for a one-on-one relationship with their end users across every domain, and it allows multiple technologies patch-worked together to be replaced with a seamless solution. This gives publishers of all sizes an advantage in maintaining loyalty and market share, and helps to level the playing field, allowing smaller publishers with fewer resources to deliver the user and advertiser experience both customers expect.