The Era of Brandtech: What you Should Expect in 2021

With high profile IPOs and funding rounds are leading our industry to believe we’re in a state of adtech and martech resurgence, other trends indicate that we’re entering a new stage of life for marketing and advertising – the era of brandtech.

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Marketing and advertising executives have a fondness of jargon and acronyms. Anything to make our methods of leveraging data or targeting sound more appealing to the average user or end consumer. While as an industry, we’re typically quick to replace old tech or pivot to new innovations, we still bucket most of these under the broad umbrellas of adtech and martech, not fully showcasing how specified these technologies have become or their true result.

With high profile IPOs and funding rounds are leading our industry to believe we’re in a state of adtech and martech resurgence, other trends indicate that we’re entering a new stage of life for marketing and advertising – the era of brandtech. Where adtech is specific to ads, placement, spend, and channel, and martech is a very broad term that can address marketing automation to customer experience, brandtech is giving a quantitative aspect to components that used to strictly be qualitative, such as sentiment, messaging, top and middle of the funnel performance and brand impact.

But why now? Why are brands making the investment in brandtech and adding the new technology to its existing techstack?

In the new climate or ecosystem brands have to navigate, there are more factors that need to be considered and greater emphasis on how consumers feel about brands, especially compared to how they feel about your competitors.

Even though we’re just now putting a name to this phenomenon that more and more are jumping on in the marketing sphere, we’ve had indicators that lead us to believe a brandtech rise is on the horizon.

The Rise of Retail Media

One by one, large retailers like Walmart, Kroger, and Walgreens have announced new advertising and media divisions, within their existing businesses. These plays themselves have unearthed its own category of retail media, but that was only a precursor of what was to come.

These retailers for years wanted more visibility and transparency than they were currently getting from their agencies and tech partners. While they weren’t able to up and launch their own advertising and media divisions, slowly in the background started bringing services in-house, leveraging their own first-party data to gain a deeper understanding of consumers, their attitudes, and how they were positioned within the marketplace. Investment levels in brand marketing is high for these firms, and alongside the flexing of this internal muscle, and having a very commercially driven state of mind is also driving big questions about Return on Brand Investment.

The Changing Role of Agencies

Retailers aren’t the only ones who have brought services in-house and this isn’t a trend that just popped up on our radars – it’s been bubbling to the surface for years. Marketers increasingly asked for more understanding of the ROI of the investments they were making, but weren’t given access and didn’t see the needle move forward.

However, agencies and consultancies like You & Mr. Jones, that have been able to move swiftly with changing demands and embrace the challenges brands have put forth. Investors are clearly noticing how they’re filling the gap and embracing brandtech, indicated by their recent Series B of $260M with a valuation of over $1.3B.

In a fast moving industry, trends can come and go – reliance on third-party cookies, sellers.json, and the likes – but the various steps that have brought us to the brandtech era make a strong case that this was a much needed change and value add. As brandtech becomes more mainstream and brands make the investment, we’ll see it implemented across the board for campaigns across channels outside of social and digital, leaning into the emerging CTV space, where consumers are hyper-engaged with content and ads. However, one thing is clear, that brandtech is filling the gaps that in-house marketers and brands have been asking their current agencies and tech partners to fill.

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