Are Adtech and Martech the same?

Startups with innovative solutions to offer in the space of marketing and advertising technologies have been lapping up significant shares of the VC pie. Way back in 2017 they had $8.8 billion of VC money. And, of course, this is because of the sheer size of the opportunity out there driven by huge advertising budgets of brands of all hues. A report by DataXu said that 72% of marketers believed that digital media is already transforming marketing. 41% of global marketers also reported that their biggest challenge was creating a marketing mix across these channels that could drive business impact.  

There is a thin line separating MarTech and AdTech. But it is also true that they work best when they are leveraged together. Together, these technologies make the whole ecosystem of marketing and advertising smarter, faster, and more efficient. But where does martech end and adtech start? Are they the same? Is there value to picking one over the other? It’s fair to say that some confusion exists between the two. Let’s use this post to dispel some of that fog.

What is AdTech?

Adtech stands for advertising technology. The primary function of adtech is to help in targeted advertising. The heart of adtech is the campaigns, ads, relevant attributes, and data points. The aim is to deliver specifically designed content to targeted prospects. The aim is to, essentially, measure the effectiveness of each campaign. This means getting more (and better) visibility for the ad spend -more bang for the ad buck. Technology and analytics help the advertisers see where modification is required in the content, segmenting, targeting or ad strategy to improve results. One example of a tool driving Adtech is Adobe Advertising Cloud. Adtech specific platforms are classified as DSPs (Demand-side platform) and SSPs (Supply Side platform). These platforms help companies buy and sell ad inventory via various ad exchanges. Another platform which deserves a mention is the SEM (Search Engine Marketing) platform which helps various websites improve their visibility.

What is MarTech?

Martech or Marketing Technology, on the other hand, is a wider ecosystem. The aim is to create, run, and manage content for an array of campaigns. A few examples of tech-driven strategies could be email campaigns, A/B testing, Web analytics, etc. Each has its own role. For instance, web site analytics helps in optimizing web pages based on the patterns of usage. Oracle Marketing Cloud is a great example of a martech tool. Enterprise CRM solutions can also be called martech tools when they are used for managing interactions with current and potential customers. These tools help organizations create more personalized, impactful, and meaningful content for the different types of campaigns. Marketing automation helps automate the response of the organization to specific actions of the target customers like launching calibrated drip email campaigns after a prospect visits the website in response to an emailer.

Where do both converge?

So now where does the confusion start? This could be because there is an ongoing convergence between the two technologies. Organizations have woken up to the fact that these two technologies together increase the width as well as the depth their campaigns were missing earlier. The combination gives them a holistic view. When they start working together, the lines between the solutions start blurring.

Functionally speaking, advertising is, of course, a subset of marketing and this attribute is passed on to their respective tech elements too. Martech technologies and platforms are now being extended to cover certain functionalities of adtech. But even in such a scenario, it is best to categorize them in separate buckets to get the best of both the worlds.

The major driver of convergence is the digitization of the consumer’s habits. This means that technology solutions deliver maximum impact when working together rather than being in siloes. A perfect scenario would be to leverage adtech solutions to understand a user’s journey across the web site. This knowledge can then be used in tandem with the CRM, customer 360-degree data, campaigns, landing page content, and other data to get a transparently clear picture of what the customer wants. By bringing the two together, ads can be uber-personalized. Having a clear view of that, the campaigns and content can be revamped and then driven into the consumer’s eye line with programmatic advertising.


This convergence may be causing a paradigm and mindset shift among marketers. Organizations want their marketing and advertising groups to work collaboratively to conquer new frontiers. To that end, they are seeking a holistic picture of the customer that can be leveraged to increase conversion. Of course, this coming together also optimizes ad and marketing budgets and increases the synergy and alignment between marketing and advertising. In fact, the convergence is throwing up new terminology. The coming age may be one of Madtech, a logical convergence of adtech and martech. When they work together, they can become more powerful to drive a greater impact on marketing as well as advertising strategies.