The three biggest myths of Martech


“Half of my advertising budget is wasted, I just don’t know which half.”

That quote is attributed to various people, going back over a hundred years. And even as we knock on the door of 2020, many people still feel the same.

Enter Martech. It’s the ultimate new opportunity to super-segment, hyper-target and count every click on the way. Finally, we’ll know exactly what works. Or will we?

Here’s why I reckon Martech is the perfect blend of great white hope and great white elephant.

What’s Martech?

Martech (and her little brother Adtech) is the helicopter term that talks to the tools and tech involved in getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Its primary fuel is data and its potential is enormous.

The fundamental promise is that robots will understand what people might want to buy and land them a relevant selling message at just the right time. Pretty much the same definition as marketing in general, but now with extra robots and a funky new buzzword.

The tech is really clever. We have secret pixels that watch what we watch, clever cookies that chase us around and decisioning engines that juggle all this data to tell us what we want to hear exactly when we want to hear it.

It may sound like the plot of a Pixar movie, but done right, it’s awesome. And it works. The problem is, it only really partly works. And that’s the point.

The biggest challenge of Martech is, the tech can drown the marketing. And with that in mind, here’s my three biggest myths of Martech.

MYTH ONE: Martech is the future of marketing.

This is bollocks. There’s no doubt Martech will continue to hold a clear and valuable place in the marketing mix. But anyone who’s been a marketer for more than ten minutes has heard it all before. “Email is the future of marketing.” “Digital is the future of marketing.” “Social is the future of marketing.” Dial back a few decades and television was the future of marketing. And it’s all true. But the reality is, marketing is the future of marketing – just like always.

On a side note, our ability to dig for data and chase people through their connected lives is increasingly counter-balanced by our new found passion for privacy. There’s a strong school of thought to suggest that the minute we optimise the marketing machines, the Privacy Commissioner will ask us to turn them off. A whole different future in marketing.

MYTH TWO: Martech works better than brand.

This is bollocks too. Most marketing technology is about conversion, repetition and relevance. Getting people to love and trust you is a whole different ball game.

The big difference is, clicks are easy to count. The biggest challenge of brand is finding a credible way to measure it. Actions can be counted in clicks, but feelings are built over time.

Amazon proves this point. If you optimise your tech, and game the Amazon algorithm, you can get to the top of the page and sell more widgets. But it’s a high-volume low-margin game of widget shifting. Brand building is the craft of widget loving. And it’s harder.

Fundamentally, the internet is where people find stuff and buy stuff. But it’s never been a place where people trust stuff. Martech can help optimise conversions, but only brand can build trust.

MYTH THREE: Martech is cheaper than people.

This is also bollocks. Martech is usually sold with a massive upfront cost and the promise of future savings. And it may make sense with millions of people in the market. But New Zealand isn’t that big. The Kiwi cost of kit per prospect is probably one of the highest in the world.

And then there’s the set up. (Often a cock up.) The human investment to run the machine, feed the machine, optimise the outcomes and integrate the new tech into current systems is significant. So in summary, Martech can be a sound investment, but don’t believe anyone who tells you you’ll save money.


Don’t get me wrong, I love marketing technology. I’m a massive fan of relevant communications and we all love stuff that makes life easy.

But the thing that gets me is Martech evangelists who forget the fundamentals of the Four P’s. Marketing isn’t a channel, it’s a mix. Martech can add value to product, it can optimise price, it can land messages in the right places, and even supercharge promotion.

But there’s far more to marketing than tech.

If I’m going to buy your stuff, I need to know you exist. I need to like what you stand for and I really appreciate an easy way to buy it.

Taking me on that journey needs long-term investment in brand, short-term investment in promos and a well-oiled Martech machine to keep me engaged on the way.

And it’s only by ticking all of those boxes that anyone gets it right. That also means you’ll probably end up wasting half your marketing budget. And chances are you’ll never know which half.

That’s what I reckon, what do you think?


Michael Goldthorpe