More than 150 marketers, publishers and investors converged at the latest Martech Record in-person event on May 23 in Manhattan. Held at The Space at Flatiron, the Marketing, Content, and Commerce (MARCC) event attracted a remarkable range of attendees. Their common denominator is belief in the opportunities created by the collision of content and commerce.
One of the key objectives of the Martech Record team is to focus on ideas and topics that go beyond the day-to-day of our industry. There are many sources available on operational issues. Instead, Martech Record fosters sharing and debate about the massive macro forces that redefine the nature of partnership every day.
This event focused on the biggest mega-trend in the industry: how content and commerce are coming together, transforming customer relationships with brands and media, and creating massive new opportunities for productive business partnerships.
The worlds of content and commerce were long separated by a durable wall, under the presumption that customers were best served by a sharp delineation between editorial and advertising. But recent years have demonstrated that a coming together of these two worlds helps the value that publishers and brands deliver to customers.
Savvy brands recognize that their marketing messages are valuable when they are transparent, genuine, and contribute real value to the customer. Publishers understand that brands can be excellent sources of expert perspectives that customers crave. When a partnership gets this harnessing of perspectives right, we create customer value that exceeds what was possible with two separate worlds.
It’s all about ensuring that customer needs are at the center of everyone’s agenda. Convergence brings responsibility as well as opportunity to industry stakeholders. Only by putting consumer needs and preferences first can partnerships yield the mutual benefit we all want. The event agenda looked at the content and commerce convergence from four different perspectives:
Investors: Why investor interest in our space is burgeoning, and what value all this new capital is contributing to help connect brands with their shoppers.
Advertisers and Publishers: How these critical industry participants invest these new dollars to grow mutually beneficial relationships.
Agencies: How the once largely static affiliate agency industry has been disrupted for the better by new investment in OPMs, greater focus from tradigital agencies, and new competition from the PR agency world.
Media: How growth in partnership spending is changing the way old and new media companies monetize content and how investments in people and technology enable these businesses to reshape and diversify their revenue models.
One of the most salient elements of each of these discussions was how the breadth and depth of our space help drive opportunity across the board for all of these stakeholder types.
Investors see enormous opportunity in the space because of its remarkable ROAS, industry complexity, and rapid change. Brands need genuine alternatives to the Google/Meta/Amazon digital media oligopoly. Additionally, partnership helps find and persuade incremental shoppers more effectively than other channels. Advertisers and publishers are making larger investments in performance partnerships at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. That creates fantastic opportunities for agencies, which can directly prove their value through measurable results. Further, this industry growth is helping established media companies identify profitable new revenue streams and smart new start-ups to grow fast through tech and content innovation.
Across the sessions, there were several common themes that point to both the vitality of the space and its strong growth prospects in the years ahead. Industry “legitimacy” came up very frequently. The central message from all speakers was that industry diversification and the gradual shift away from discount centricity had enhanced its role in many marketing programs.
Discoverability was another central theme, as brands look for ways to attract and convert new customers beyond those already aware of their needs and options. Given the constantly rising costs for Search and other digital media from the tech oligopoly, brands need scalable ways to drive continued growth. Even the uncertain economic conditions point to increased investment in partnership because of its effectiveness and scalability.
It was clear from the sessions that convergence is reshaping many aspects of working in our industry. Almost every speaker focused on how partnership must be integrated into every other aspect of a go-to-market strategy. Because customers do not think in terms of channel silos, brands and publishers cannot think in silos if they expect to achieve maximum success in the industry.
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