Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic (2015)
There’s a lot of marketing technology in the world, my friend.
The 2015 edition of my marketing technology landscape supergraphic has been released, now with 1,876 vendors represented across 43 categories. To actually read it, you need a hi-res version (be prepared to zoom and scroll, and then zoom and scroll some more):
Even I was surprised that the number of vendors nearly doubled from last year’s edition, which charted an already-staggering 947 companies. This growth was partly due to new entrants, but also due to more thorough research:
And yet, amazingly, this is still not comprehensive. Counting marketing technologies is like counting stars in the sky — there’s always a higher resolution at which you could see more. Consider this the Mauna Kea observatory view, but not yet the Hubble telescope view.
Before I share some analysis of this, three important things to state up front:
1. Permission is granted to reproduce and distribute this graphic “as is.” Feel free to include it in presentation decks, embed it in blog posts, or publish it in other media. A link back here would be nice — the Google equivalent of a tip — but it’s not a requirement.
2. Please forgive my many errors and omissions. This is intended mostly as a high-level conversation piece, not a definitive encyclopedia of the industry. Dear vendors: if I failed to include your company, mis-categorized it, made a mistake with your logo, etc., I apologize. Please feel free to set the record straight in the comments at the end of this post.
3. I have enormous gratitude to many who inspired and enabled this project. My original inspiration for these landscapes came from the excellent LUMAscapes prepared by Terence Kawaja and his team. Other sources that I turned to in my research included VB Profiles,Crunchbase, Raab Associates, Digital Marketing Depot, Altimeter, Gartner, Forrester,SiriusDecisions, IDC, G2 Crowd, TrustRadius, VentureScanner, Angel.co, CMSWire, Vendorsi, and Email Vendor Selection. And a whole lot of Google.
And one, quick promotional pre-roll:
If you’re fascinated by this landscape — as a marketer, a technologist, or even a product developer — you should really come to the MarTech Conference in San Francisco this spring. We’re going to have 24 great sessions, packed into 2 days, by pioneering marketing technology practitioners and leading analysts and authors, explaining how to harness all this marketing technology innovation to deliver amazing customer experiences. You’ll be able to connect with 600 of your peers. And we’re going to have an independent exhibit area with 50 companies from across this landscape, in which you will certainly make some cool new discoveries.
The alpha rate (geek-speak for early bird discount) expires this Friday, and last year’s conference sold out. So if you want to attend, try to register by the end of this week.
Oh, and one more thing: as a little swag, every attendee will receive a special edition poster of this landscape. I know, it’s a small thing — well, not physically — but it would look great on your wall. (Heaven knows it’s not readable on an 8½x11 sheet of paper.)
Okay, let’s dive in…
“Nearly 2,000 Martech Companies?!? What does this mean?”
One early reviewer of this graphic said it gave her agita. Another called it terrifying. If it causes you distress, I apologize — that’s not my intention. (I should probably accompany this with the kind of disclaimer you hear on pharmaceutical commercials: “Talk to your doctor before considering a marketing technology regimen…”)
My intention with this graphic is to visually demonstrate four points:
- Marketing has unquestionably become a technology-powered discipline.
- The quantity of martech ventures is a barometer of how much marketing is evolving.
- The marketing technology field is heterogenous, with a very broad range of products.
- To thrive in this environment, marketing should steadily develop its technical talent.
When you consider the implications of those four points, the “technology management” piece of this is non-trivial — but it’s definitely not the biggest hurdle most companies face. The real challenge is changing how firms think and behave in this hyper-connected, always-on, customer-controlled digital world. The nature of marketing has exploded from an ancillary communications function to the Grand Central Station of customer experience. And the bar for delivering great customer experiences is rising rapidly.
That’s the real challenge. And most companies are still early in the maturity curve of such transformations. The difficulty of trying to sort out the marketing technology landscape is merely an echo of that revolution.
The good news is that most of the marketing technology innovations on this landscape are designed to help marketers conquer that revolution. They’re by no means miracle transformation pills (“instant relief, just add money!”). But when applied in the service of a well-organized, strategically-sound, executive-led digital transformation effort, these technologies are your friend. They can imbue your organization with superhero powers.
So please, don’t be disturbed by this landscape per se. We can navigate the technology.
But you should probably be daunted by the larger transformation of your organization that this landscape heralds — if you’re not, at least a little, you probably don’t yet appreciate just how massive of a management challenge that really is.
The Myth of Marketing Technology Categories
The most objectionable aspect of this graphic is its categorization. My choice of categories, the labels I used for them, which companies I placed in which category, etc., are all subject to debate. However, this isn’t just a problem with my graphic — this is a challenge across the industry (as any product manager for any of these companies will surely testify).
First, new categories keep emerging, often as rebellious offshoots from previous categories. For example, I charted “Influencer Marketing” separate from “Social Media Marketing” this year, because of the momentum of so many companies using that label. But it’s arguably a subset rather than a separate category, with enormous overlap between them. As product managers vie to differentiate their products, alternate labels and variations flood the digital airwaves. Most vendors wrestle with wanting to dominate a category of their own invention (“blue ocean”) yet compete in larger and more popular fields (“red ocean”). It makes for a frothy brew of ever-shifting category labels.
Second, many categories contain radically different kinds of software. Look no further than the “Content Marketing” category. Based on popular usage of the term, most people would agree there is a category of content marketing software. But when you examine all the myriad of products offered under that umbrella — production, workflow, curation, distribution, resource markets, analytics, etc. — you quickly realize they aren’t apples-to-apples: there are oranges, bananas, pears, and a whole exotic fruit basket in there.
Many of the products in such a category are complementary, not competitive. They’re not mutually exclusive. And they’re also not interchangeable.
Third, and a major source of confusion, categories of technologies and categories of “jobs marketers want to do” are often conflated (tip o’ the hat to Clay Christensen). But they’re not the same. For instance, almost all of the categories on this graphic have products that could be applied in a content marketing program. (In fact, if there is an overarching theme to the landscape, it’s that the “content marketing movement,” writ large, is the engine of the marketing technology landscape, and vice versa.) Marketers should strive for clarity about their “jobs to be done” and consider tools that help them achieve that, without getting too hung up on the category labels of the tools themselves.
And fourth, many innovative products have an architecture or a value proposition that inherently spans multiple categories. As Neeraj Agrawal of Battery Ventures said, “I think we’re still in the early innings, maybe the fourth inning” of this grand transformation of marketing. Indeed, many of the popular category labels that we use today — “marketing automation” — have baggage from earlier mental models of digital marketing. I believe it’s a really good thing that many entrepreneurs in this sector are inventing solutions that are untethered by those labels. But it does make them hard to categorize.
Given that, almost any categorization scheme is bound to be flawed. I’d be tempted to do away with categories entirely, but that would look something like this:
Not an improvement, right? So imperfect categorization is better than no categorization.
But you should certainly take my categorization with a grain of salt. In addition to the four existential issues raised above, which would confound any categorization strategy, I’ve got a whole additional dimension in which mine is flawed: I optimized for space.
To accommodate this industry-wide view on a single slide, I merged together categories that I believe share some strands of DNA (e.g., “Display & Native Ads”) that most reasonable folks would maintain as separate groups. If page real estate were not a constraint, I would have broken down these categories in a more granular fashion.
Also, in the interest of space, I worked hard to eliminate multiple instances of the same company. There are maybe a dozen or so companies who have logos in more than one category. For most, I forced myself to put them in just one, whichever one I thought was the most relevant. This woefully underrepresents many of these vendors who cross multiple categories. That’s just a limitation of my format, so please keep in mind that many of these companies have much more to offer than my low-fidelity graphic depicts.
However, a few marketing technology companies have suites and portfolios with so many tentacles across this entire landscape that I needed some way to communicate the breadth of their offerings…
The Multi-Category Marketing Clouds/Platforms/Suites
Generally speaking, there is no hierarchy of vendors expressed in this graphic. Any given category contains companies of wildly different size and maturity, often serving entirely different market segments (i.e., SMB vs. enterprise). Read no meaning into my positioning of companies within a category, or the slight variations in size of the logos. I simply arranged them to optimize for fit and — try not to laugh too hard — aesthetics.
However, one of the big trends in marketing technology has been the emergence of a set of “marketing clouds” that incorporate many capabilities from across this landscape under the umbrella of a single vendor.
Some are multi-billion enterprise software companies — notably Adobe, IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Teradata. HP, Infor, Microsoft, SAP, SAS are sizable forces in this space too, even if their portfolios and positioning still have a ways to go. HubSpot and Marketo are both native digital marketing technology companies who are public with over $1 billion valuations. SDL and Sitecore are rising challengers, born from the web content management category. And Act-On, Infusionsoft, and Outmarket are leading representatives of the SMB incarnations of this marketing cloud strategy.
I put them in their own category, partly to acknowledge their relative scale, but also to avoid the redundancy of having their logos in dozens of categories. The Platform/Suite category is a visual short-cut for “operates in many of the categories on this graphic.” That’s why I didn’t include Adobe in Creative & Design or Oracle in Databases & Big Data, even though they are obviously each giants in those areas, respectively.
Many of these companies are remarkable because they have developed significant ISV ecosystems around their platforms — indeed, this is what makes many of them true platforms, and not just large-but-closed product suites. I’ve been an advocate of open marketing platforms for a while, and it’s been exciting to see so much progress on that front over the past year.
Admittedly, this may be a controversial category, as there are many other companies on the landscape who could justifiably qualify for it. For the most part, I relied on the analyses of Forrester and Gartner, and the vendors they evaluated in their latest marketing cloud and digital marketing hub reports, to determine which companies were included. So again: take my categorization with a grain of salt.
There’s also an interesting new flock of companies that’s challenging the model of these pre-packaged marketing clouds…