Human beings like shortcuts. There’s a reason we say martech and adtech instead of “marketing technology” and “advertising technology” — it saves us five or six syllables, and precious seconds of time.

For the very same reason, marketing professionals appreciate the tools these words (or mishmashes of words) represent: They make us faster and more efficient.

But let us not be so hasty as to lump these two together. There are several key distinctions between adtech and martech. By understanding where they diverge, and where they can connect, marketers will be better poised to maximize data-driven personalization with both.

The Difference Between Martech and Adtech

What is Martech?

Marketing technology refers broadly to the technologies we use to execute a digital marketing strategy. This covers everything from lead capture to nurturing to conversion tactics.

“Every piece of technology a marketer uses to reach a potential customer is martech,” according to John Koetsier, VP of Insights for Singular (via AdAge).

Maretch encompasses all of the following technologies, and then some:

● Content marketing platforms
● Email marketing software
● Marketing automation platforms
● Digital analytics tools
● Social media management software
● Customer data platforms

When people talk about a “martech stack,” it’s just a trendy way of discussing the collection of marketing technology solutions deployed by an organization. Finding the right integrated mix is an ongoing priority for almost any marketing agency or department today.

What is Adtech?

As the name makes explicit, advertising technology refers to the technologies we use specifically for digital advertising. From the back end to the front end, these tools help us build and deliver better ads to more targeted audiences.

Examples of adtech include:

● Programmatic advertising tools
● Tag management systems
● Demand-side platforms
● Ad exchanges/networks/servers
● Data management platforms

“If buying TV was like a nuclear bomb and buying websites was like a shotgun, then using ad tech is supposed to be like having a sniper rifle,” said Adam Kleinberg, CEO of the agency Traction, in an article at CIO.

Where the Line Between Martech & Adtech Gets Blurry

Advertising is a subcategory of marketing, and so adtech can be viewed as a subcategory of martech. They often overlap but shouldn’t be used interchangeably. You’re not necessarily wrong in referring to an adtech solution as martech, but doing so can cause confusion or even duplication of efforts. You don’t want two tools doing the same thing, or redundant processes in place.

As such, it’s best for marketing leaders to view them (and refer to them) as discrete buckets. By combining insights from both sides, we move closer to obtaining a 360-degree view of our audiences.

The Benefits of Adtech and Martech Convergence

It’s not a perfect delineator, but the easiest way to visualize the divide between adtech and martech is through the paid versus organic dichotomy.

Here’s an example of how the two practically fit together: You can use a tag management system (adtech) to drop tracking pixels on your website for a retargeting campaign. This information tells you that a user visited a particular page on your website. Then, you can combine that knowledge with data gathered from your blog analytics, email campaigns, and social media platforms (martech) to fully customize and personalize your messaging, combining an understanding of customer behaviors with rich attribute data for a sophisticated strategy.

Forrester has suggested that “the union of these two tech worlds is part of an emerging broader marketing mindset shift that focuses on quality rather than scale,” adding that we’re only scratching the surface of a larger overall transformation. Ultimately, this is aimed at creating better customer experiences.

“The convergence of AdTech and MarTech can redefine the path of your marketing spend across the platforms you invest in, the data you own, the media you choose and the content you develop,” wrote Katie Wheeler in CMSWire. “But the biggest, most important promise of MadTech will be the positive, ever-improving experience your customers will come to associate with your brand.”

As Wheeler alludes, the convergence of adtech and martech has been dubbed “madtech” in some corners, although really marketers should be quite pleased to have both adtech and martech at their fingertips. When we use one to inform the other, and create a continual information loop, both our advertising and general marketing efforts are both more likely to thrive.

Adtech and Martech: Better Together

At a time where breaking down silos, organizing data, and personalizing content should be near the top of any marketer’s list of resolutions, understanding the difference between adtech and martech — while using insights derived from both in complementary fashion — provides a helpful shortcut for getting there.