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Madtech in 2021: how AI and other technologies are revolutionising marketing

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data are transforming the traditional application of tech in the world of marketing. With these tools, startups and SMEs are able to reach a more specific audience for their products at a lower cost than traditional advertising.


A combination of marketing, advertising and technology has given rise to the new era of madtech that we are living in. Here, the goal is to apply data-based technologies to your sales and marketing strategy to achieve your business goals.

Madtech, together with the knowledge, experience and strategies of marketing professionals, optimises the results of advertising campaigns. Also, with this combination of elements, companies can offer bespoke experiences that are relevant to each of their users. As Katherine Céspedes, Senior Manager of Digital Sales & Marketing at BBVA, explains "this fusion gives us a more complete view of the consumer across all channels. Data is central to this overall picture".

What do the most disruptive technologies in marketing do?

Machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistants are technologies applicable to madtech marketing. In an article for Forbes on trends for 2021, the co-founder and CMO of Imaginovation, Michael Georgiu, says that machine learning and AI "are no longer considered 'on the way'. They are here". So, with marketing based on these technologies we get "detailed information" about consumer buying patterns.

With marketing based on these technologies we get "detailed information" about consumer buying patterns

Céspedes is of the same opinion - these technologies allow marketing "to anticipate consumers' needs and offer them the product or service that they need even before they've looked for it". Or, similarly, they allow you to understand consumers and their context "and to offer them an experience that is as personalised and relevant as possible".

So startups, SMEs and large companies can use madtech to generate real-time experiences that are increasingly customised, large-scale and automatic. And to this end, data is king.

Managing data on the right platforms to boost marketing

31% of companies in the US say that lack of real-time data about their customers is the biggest problem they face when trying to improve the customer experience, according to a report published by Statista. However, the pandemic has digitised many shopping experiences, making it easy to acquire more information with which to customise such experiences. Now the challenge for companies is how to handle that data, and to that end AI is there to serve marketing and businesses.

Céspedes notes that data tend to be spread across multiple information systems, and that customer data platforms (CDPs) and equivalent infrastructures are emerging to make sense of them. These "seek to unify and update the customer profile based on their real-time interactions, and other madtech systems can access them. Having a single perspective is a key part of customising your relationship with them before they even become a customer".


Daniel Valle, Head of Operations at digital marketing and technology agency t2ó México, believes that applying data technology can help startups and SMEs get to know the users that visit their websites or interact with their social media better. In this way, they can acquire information about their behaviour or tastes. With platforms like those mentioned earlier, "accessibility to the world of data is being democratised", Valle summarises.

"The main platforms and specialists in the field are working on solutions based on data analysis and activation to connect with consumers"

In this landscape, Valle recalls that the Internet is approaching a future without third-party cookies to respect user privacy and reduce their digital footprint: "That's why the main web advertising platforms and specialists in the field are working on solutions based on data analysis and activation to connect with consumers and offer them really appealing content and advertising". Users will not receive any results that are not in their interests, making it easier for them to enter the sales funnel.

Opting for conversation: AI with chatbots and voice

"Wherever there are people, there's an opportunity to advertise", claims Juan Lombana, CEO of digital marketing course firm Mercatitlán. You therefore have to observe where there are people in order to promote your products in those spaces. He points to how users get together in front of virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google Home or Amazon Echo, whilst the number of users on social media like TikTok, Clubhouse and Twitch is rising.

It is precisely this rise among consumers of virtual assistants and voice searches, which work with AI, together with the emergence of audio social networks such as Clubhouse, that prove the power that madtech conversational strategies could achieve. BBVA's Céspedes notes that chatbots are already a new channel for customer engagement and that, when AI combines with 5G, they will have more interesting features for users: "They'll be able to answer us more naturally and offer us tailored experiences, recommendations and even access to HD video conferencing within a conversation".

Technologies to optimise resources

Lombana, who took part in the BBVA Open Talks 'Strategies for Facebook and Google campaigns during a crisis' event, upholds that madtech segmentation processes improve the results of traditional marketing tools - with less money you reach fewer people, but they are genuinely interested in the product. So companies sell more and get "a better return on investment [ROI]".

Madtech segmentation processes improve the results of traditional marketing tools

BBVA expert Katherine Céspedes also believes that these instruments can streamline advertising investment: "They help us more intelligently determine which audience to impact, where, when and with what creativity, as well as the best price to pay for our adverts". This allows you to create "ads that are more relevant for your audience, more likely to lead to conversion and managed efficiently".

Essentially, digital marketing "offers a shop window for companies where, at lower costs, they can have more exponential visibility than they would have with traditional marketing activities", says Valle, who was part of the 2020 BBVA Open Talks Marketing event 'Positioning in times of Virtual Assistants'.

No turning back

In Lombana's opinion, managers have realised "overnight" that they had to be much more digital: "Many of those people who were being cautious or in denial went on to accept digital". According to Gartner's 2021 CMO Spend Survey, technology is a priority for 26% of marketing managers interviewed. According to the consultancy, this technology represents "their path to proximity and customer recovery".

The next two years will be tough for advertising investment and there will be a 28% drop in marketing spending in the United States, said a Forrester report in May 2020. Nevertheless, according to the study, "today's dire situation will also force the pivot to more adaptive planning and operations that many CMOs [Chief Marketing Officers] had delayed during better days". Technologies such as AI assist marketers, startups and SMEs to take into account what is to come, but keeping the focus on users. Lombana, therefore, invites companies to invest in training on the platforms and tools that bring together marketing, advertising and technology: "Education is what separates you from your goals, it's what's between you and who you want to become and where you want to take your business."