For this reason, ad tech and marketing tech are in some ways one and the same. They share commonalities, and much of the confusion over the difference relates to the fact that advertising is the most visible form of marketing, according to Vish Sastry Rachakonda, CEO of digital marketing firm iQuanti.

“[Ad tech and marketing tech] are both broadly based terms used to describe an assortment of technologies and data sources” and “they are both fundamentally aimed at reaching the right audience with the right message at the right time and place,” Kleinberg says.

The overlap occurs in the use of customer, or potential-customer, data for single interactions versus long-term strategy, according to Rosner. The struggle over ownership of that data, and how it should be used, is largely responsible for the confusion that hangs over ad tech and marketing tech, he says. “If data equals power, who owns it amongst the key stakeholders: CTOs, CIOs, CMOs?”

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