Scott Brinker: Technology is now as much a part of marketing as creative

CTO of Ion Interactive opens ADMA Global Forum with a presentation on the rise of marketing technology and why every marketing team needs a technologist

Scott Brinker at ADMA Global Forum 2014
Scott Brinker at ADMA Global Forum 2014

Not every marketer needs to be a technologist, but they should recognise technology is now as much a part of marketing’s DNA as creative and must be represented in the marketing function.

That’s the view of Scott Brinker, CTO of Ion Interactive and blogger for, who opened today’s ADMA Global Forum at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney with a presentation on complex ecosystem of software and technology that has arisen around marketing today.

While much of the conversation about technology utilisation has centred on whether the CMO can and should wrestle control of IT budget and platforms from their CIO counterparts, Brinker said both sides need to recognise that partnership is the better course to chart.

He compared the struggle for technology domination to the judgment of King Solomon referenced in the Bible.

“It’s not about splitting the baby in half; things work much better when you think of technology holistically,” he said. “These technologies are intertwined.”

To bring more technical knowledge into the marketing function, Brinker argued CMOs need people on their teams capable of leveraging technology if they want to drive better marketing strategy and personalise customer engagement.

“Yes, there needs to be a partnership between the CMO and CIO,” Brinker continued. “The thing is, you also need partnership at the next level down. How you operationalise this stuff is incredibly complex. That’s why the role of marketing technologist really helps.”

According to a report released by Gartner in January, 81 per cent of large organisations currently have someone in a ‘marketing technologist’ role, although the job title varies hugely across companies and encompasses creative technologists, growth hackers, chief digital officers and data scientists.

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The common thread across all of these positions is that they sit at the intersection of the CMO and CIO, IT and marketing teams, and maintain relationships with external software providers, Brinker said, using the Gartner research as a reference.

As digital transformation rapidly opens up the number of customer experience touchpoints marketers have access to, marketing has moved away from being the business of communication, to one of driving experiences, Brinker continued.

This is driving larger investments into technology, as well as triggering an explosion of new software solutions in the market. To illustrate the pervasiveness of technology in marketing, Brinker presented his own infographic released earlier this year of the current marketing technology landscape, featuring 947 vendors across 43 categories.

“The toolbox of marketing has changed. It’s not just art and copy, but also code and data,” he said. “Marketing has become the vanguard for digital transformation.”

Brinker also pointed out everything about digital interaction is controlled by software, changing our perceptions, affecting our engagement strategies, controlling our level of interaction through digital channels, and automating our processes.

“We think of digital is such a direct medium as it happens in milliseconds, but it’s going through very sophisticated channels of many different people,” he added.

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