In 1849, the year of the gold rush, the city of San Francisco had about 1,000 inhabitants. By the end of 1850, its population had grown to 25,000. To accommodate the massive influx of prospectors, self-contained gold mining towns sprouted up around the region. As the surface gold vanished, deep mining became industrialized and capital-intensive. Rivalries grew and power centers developed. The winners were best equipped, best organized, and knew the territory.

Today, digital marketing seems to be reaching a similar turning point. The days of a thousand point-solution venture-backed vendors are giving way to a period of complex consolidations, in which providers from different regions of marketing are converging on a common terrain of integrated, multichannel, data-driven, cloud-based digital marketing solutions – tied together by a central digital marketing hub. But they are challenged by a diversity of divisional buying centers within organizations struggling to connect the many marketing silos they’ve built while preserving a common sense of brand.

My colleague Bill Gassman and I wrote in a recent report (subscription required):

“There are many worlds of marketing: from online to offline, from inbound to outbound, and from agency to indigenous. Each faction has a role to play in the overall marketing efforts of an organization, but often each works in an isolated world of business goals, functions, metrics, tools and cultures. Even the lingo is different, to the point that discussions are difficult when different constituencies try to communicate or compare performance metrics. This is particularly true of the divide between advertising and marketing operations.”

The ad tech world, which has enjoyed a long run of investment inspired by the lucre of media and the success of Google and Facebook, would now recast itself as marketing tech and apply its programmatic solutions for advertising to a broader range of communications and decision support. Consider this speech, given at AdExchanger’s Programmatic I/O conference in April by John Nardone, CEO of [X+1], titled “The Programmatic CMO,” in which he presents the case for why DMP-like tools will move beyond advertising to marketing.

On the other side of town, in the web ops region tag management has taken root as the natural heir to web analytics, and companies such as Tealium have announced their own Tealium Data Cloud and Tealium Digital Marketing Hub products. In the data ops world, cloud-based providers like Anametrix are challenging big data incumbents with solutions positioned as universal marketing data hubs. And from marketing ops, lead management providers such as Marketo and Neolane have also staked rich claims, launched marketing hubs, and found new homes with buyers such as IBM and Teradata. Finally, social marketing and email marketing players are the latest groups to find favor with large software incumbents like Oracle and who see gold in the application of their big data to marketing.

All of which begs the question, how do the natives – that is, digital marketers – cope with this influx of gilded fortune-seekers? They need a guide – someone who knows the changing territory. And perhaps some sort of map.



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