Despite all of the growth, interest, and investment in ad technology of late, HubSpot CMO Mike Volpe believes the field is on the decline. Consumers and businesses are having deeper interactions now, sourcing information at their own pace and prudence, all the while gaining power as buyers, he tells ClickZ.
In his view, ad tech is barely treading water in a swirl of adverse trends. At best, the new algorithms, data, and techniques for ad targeting are just keeping click-through rates from falling. At worst, consumer backlash against banner ads will render any advancement in ad technology useless.
The future of digital marketing is about attracting, not interrupting, says Volpe. Marketers need to "get more people to want to interact with your company rather than arm-twisting them." HubSpot calls this inbound marketing, and Volpe says it's time for marketers to adapt all of their marketing to attract those behaviors. "People have higher expectations for their interactions with companies now. Buyers are calling us to account in how we interact with them, and they expect a much more personalized experience with us," he says.
"Ad tech has been focused on better targeting and optimizing something that consumers don't really want. I think that consumers are getting smarter and smarter about how they're interacting with brands…and getting better about physically and mentally blocking that stuff," he says.
"We're in this world where things are going worse and worse, and we've now got people that are helping to delay the inevitable," he says. "When you think about what's the future of growing a brand going to look like in five or 10 years from now, I don't think people are going to say 'I'm going to pour a ton of money into an online display campaign that is highly optimized.'"
Dramatic changes in buyer behavior and the rise of measurability are the biggest changes impacting the world of marketing today, says Volpe. Whereas prior generations focused on value propositions and how to get those ideas in front of as many people as possible at massive costs, marketers can now earn the interest of consumers through social media. "I think that the world that we're in today, it's not about buying your way in, it's much more about earning your way in," Volpe says.
"Social media increasingly gives brands an opportunity or a platform that is very similar to the way that you interact with your friends. The way you used to interact with your friends was you'd have a conversation on the phone or in person, and the way you'd interact with a brand was that you would see their advertisements on your favorite TV show. Today I can follow a brand on Twitter or I can follow a person on Twitter, and those interactions are much more similar," he adds.
"The paid media channels are actually morphing to look more like owned or earned media, when you talk about native advertising or sponsored content. The whole world is moving in that direction," Volpe says.
"That stuff is less about ad tech and it's more about the content and how helpful the content is. It's less about how do I use the seven cookies in your machine to slice down to exactly the person I want to show them a banner ad, which by the way they're going to ignore; versus, how do I have content that's really helpful that people are going to share and spread around."
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Matt Kapko has been writing about mobile since 2006, before it became cool. Based in Long Beach, CA, he has covered mobile entertainment, digital media, marketing, and advertising for several business media outlets. A former editor and reporter for RCR Wireless News, paidContent, and iMedia Connection, Matt is a regular freelance reporter for ClickZ. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattKapko or drop him a line at email@example.com.
March 19, 2014