A 2017 update to the Marketing Data Technology (MarDaTech) landscape


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hilly landscape with fog

The whole idea behind the MarDaTech landscape I presented two years ago, was to add a layer of logic to the manner in which different value propositions in Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology (“MarTech”) ecosystem were intertwined. Their common denominator had to be a “data flow” in one direction or another, either automated or human-driven.

It did meet its purpose, as we have been able to easily explain where, for instance, Data Management Platforms, Social Listening tools, or marketing dashboards fit – and how they leverage their underlying technologies.

But of course things move fast. While a considerable number of players expressly mentioned at the time have since disappeared or been acquired, entire categories have taken off while others have shrunk or been displaced.

Industry analysts have been busy too, mostly catching up with the new trends and publishing regular guides, papers, “waves”, “quadrants”, etc. Staying in sync with them, at the pace that their deliverables are published, is no easy feat either. Among others, the following research pieces had to be taken into account, both for their point of view and the vendor selections made:

  • CDP: Understanding Customer Data Platforms (Gartner, 2016)
  • DMP:Forrester Wave to DMPs (2017)
  • BI/Analytics:Magic Quadrant for Business Intelligence and Analytics Platforms (Gartner, 2017)
  • Automation: Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs (Gartner, 2017)
  • Dashboards Market Guide to Marketing Dashboards (Gartner, 2016)
  • TMS, Analytics: Vendor landscape: Digital Intelligence Technology Providers (Forrester, 2017)
  • Backbone: Magic Quadrant for Data Management Solutions (2017)

So, let us share a much needed 2017 update to this landscape following the very same structure used at the time:

  1. A conceptual version of the MarDaTech diagram covering data flows, functions performed, and inter-dependencies
  2. A vendor-populated version of the same, referencing the shortlists made by industry analysts for each of the MarDaTech sections


A. MarDaTech 2017 explained

Marketing Data Technology Landscape

In essence, the entire “donut” is split into two halves: while the two upper sections refer to “data as a witness” (see our Pocket Guide to Digital Intelligence for an introduction to this concept) and human-driven processes (from data analysis to information delivery), the two lower sections are mostly treating data as “fuel” and mostly automated processes.

Tasks in “data activation” (Activate) are slowly moving towards automation (Automate), with decision-support (Decide) and analysis (Discover) eventually influencing the business rules sitting behind them.

The Backbone located in the middle has now left room for its new star, Customer Data Platforms, with multiple database technologies, data lakes, or ETL capabilities powering all four corners with varying degrees of efficiency/redundancy.

Colored dots represent different types of data as they move from backbone to day-to-day functions and value propositions.

B. 2017 vendors in MarDaTech

The chart below replaces color codes with specific vendors in each space. Vendors are included and distributed across the donut according to their mentions in said industry reports (limited to Gartner and Forrester Research at this point).

marketing technology landscape

All of which calls for certain clarifications:

Does this mean that there are no other “dimensions” or generic value propositions in terms of data-driven marketing? No, as data is mostly everywhere. But we do want to believe that all marketing functions that have data “at their core” are indeed included here.

Are we an interested party to this, given that Sweetspot is expressly mentioned? We definitely are, but have tried hard to be fair, applying the very same rules to every single value proposition, including our most direct competitors.

Will this landscape remain stable for long in terms of its primary building blocks? We would not be so certain. For starters, the arrival of GDPR (the EU’s Global Data Protection Regulation) in 2018 will have a very strong impact on the entire AdTech landscape (across both Activate and Automate).


NOTE: The MarDaTech 2017 has been included in Sweetspot’s Pocket Guide to Digital Intelligence (free download).

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Sergio Maldonado

Founder & Chairman at Sweetspot. Author, speaker on analytics, marketing technology, privacy compliance. JD, LLM (Internet law). Once a dually-admitted lawyer. Father of three. I love surfing and cooking.

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GDPR vs. MarDaTech: the battle has already started - Sweetspot

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