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Ban These Words and Phrases From Your Communications Right Now (an A-to-Y Guide)



Ever play jargon bingo?

You mark off a square on your card every time you hear one of those words or phrases that sounds like fingernails on the chalkboard. Maybe it’s a word so frequently used as to render it almost meaningless. Or perhaps it’s an acronym that makes readers have to pause (or Google) to remember what it means.

The winner of jargon bingo crosses off all the squares in a row or diagonally first (yep, basic bingo rules).

But, in truth, nobody wins when jargon sneaks into content.

To help you avoid these content no-nos (or know you’re not alone in your frustration), we asked the speakers at Content Marketing World 2022 to share their “favorite” (i.e., most hated) jargon.

Amy Higgins, senior director, content marketing, Twilio, couldn’t pick one: “I hate all jargon. I wish we could speak simply and reduce the number of acronyms we use in our day-to-day business. Most jargon will not translate well or mean the same thing across audiences.”

Meg Coffey, managing director, Coffey & Tea, isn’t a fan of using big words just to sound smart. “If anything, once you start using the big words, I assume you are covering for something else and tune out.”

Let’s start with some of the words and phrases that bug them the most.


I wish “activation” would die and never come back. Who talks like this? Other than businesspeople who never talked to their customers about their needs. Do customers say, “If only this were activated …”? Nope.”

Kathy Klotz-Guest, founder, Keeping it Human

I wish activation would die and never come back. Who talks like this? Do customers say, If only this were activated? Nope, says #CMWorld speaker @kathyklotzguest via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


There is no such thing as business-speak. If an outsider does not understand specialist jargon, it’s up to the specialist to explain it as one might to a young child or a golden retriever.

For insiders, jargon functions, well, just like NFL play calls. They work fast and effectively as long as anyone on the team can make a golden retriever or CEO understand the meaning AND ensures everybody has the same understanding of the jargon word.

Bert van Loon, strategist, CMFF

Change management

It has grown to have a negative connotation and causes employees to wince when they hear it. Whether you are putting new processes in place or changing your team structure, nobody wants to feel like they are being “managed” through change.

Let your employees lead the change. Let them tell you what is working and what is not. Then respond to those concerns. Focus on the positives for them in the change (not the positives for the company). And let’s face it, most people have been through so much change in the past few years that they are exhausted. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t want change. Most people are not averse to change if it makes their lives better.

Andi Robinson, global digital content and brand leader, Corteva Agriscience

Change management causes employees to wince. Nobody wants to feel like they’re being managed through change, says @hijinxmarketing via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Check out

The phrase “check out …” is the most vapid, lazy call to action ever invented. Stop it. Verbs are your friends, people.

Think about it: When’s the last time you ever checked out anything anyone ever told you to check out? Never? Exactly. Because it’s such an empty, valueless call to action, “check out” undercuts your authority and suggests “spam city.”

What will happen should I click whatever it is you want me to “check out?” Tell me. Give me a good reason to click that sucker. Make me trust you.

Kate Bradley Chernis, co-founder and CEO, Lately

Check out is the most vapid, lazy call to action ever invented, says #CMWorld speaker @LatelyAIKately via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


The word content is so overused that it’s practically meaningless. When I speak about content, I try to be as specific as possible about the type of content or its purpose so everyone around me is clear.

If you talk generally about content in a meeting, one person comes away imagining a video; another is ready for a series of blog posts; and another is envisioning an influencer marketing campaign. Even if you don’t yet have a specific content plan, be clear about the types of content that will or won’t be effective to manage everyone’s different expectations about what the content is.

Monica Norton, head of content marketing, Yelp

The world content is so overused that it’s practically meaningless, says @monicalnorton via @CMIContent #CMWorld. Click To Tweet

Content strategy

This one isn’t on my list, but there are people who don’t like when content marketers use the term “content strategy” because technically, content strategy includes all areas of content, including non-marketing content (i.e., internal docs).

When most people say “content strategy,” they usually mean “content marketing strategy.” It’s an implied difference, but some people get really worked up about this.”

Andy Crestodina, co-founder and chief marketing officer, Orbit Media Studios

When most people say content strategy, they usually mean content marketing strategy. Some people get really worked up about this, says #CMWorld speaker @crestodina via @CMIContent Click To Tweet


I shiver anytime a marketer talks about engagement. What exactly is engagement? Ask 20 marketers what they think it means, and you’ll get 20 different answers. So, next time you catch yourself about to utter the word “engagement,” stop. Ask yourself, what exactly do you mean?

Andrew Davis, author and keynote speaker, Monumental Shift

Next time you catch yourself about to utter the word engagement, stop. Ask yourself, what exactly do you mean? #CMWorld speaker @DrewDavisHere via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet


It’s any time someone says they offer “holistic” services. No one offers everything. The marketing and business world is far too diverse for that to even be possible. Soup-to-nuts doesn’t exist here. So, shut it.

Jason Falls, senior influence strategist, Cornett

Holistic services. No one offers everything. Soup-to-nuts doesn’t exist here. So, shut it, says @JasonFalls via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet


Learnings is on my personal list because it sounds like something a toddler would say. Plus, we already have two perfectly good words that express the same meaning: lessons and takeaways.

Domain-specific jargon can be useful as shorthand when you’re communicating with other people in your field (e.g., SERP, click-throughs, bounce rate). But general business jargon is unnecessary – and exclusionary. People who don’t speak English natively often struggle with “corporate speak,” which should give all of us pause as our customers and teammates are becoming more globally diverse every day.

Sarah Goff-Dupont, principal writer, Atlassian

Learnings sounds like something a toddler would say. Plus, we already have good words for the same meaning: lessons and takeaways, says @SarahGoffDupont via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

North Star

It might not seem contentious, but to an audience based in the Southern Hemisphere having a North Star as your guiding or underlying principle is confusing, illogical, and just plain wrong. We have the Southern Cross, but we don’t use that as a guiding light. Why not just use the terms “guiding principle” or “core message” instead?

Gina Balarin, director and content queen, Verballistics


We are moving into the product management service industry. So every day, I see PMS. And every day, I think of the other one.

Viveka von Rosen, chief visibility officer, Vengreso

We are moving into the product management service industry. So every day, I see PMS. And every day, I think of the other one, says @LinkedInExpert via @@CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet


This word is overused. Perfection is a myth. Stop calling everything “perfect.”

Bernie Borges, vice president global content marketing, iQor


Making events virtual (digital) as well as in-person (physical) makes them more accessible and means that more diverse voices will be heard. But I cannot stand the word “phygital.” It is the worst portmanteau of all time, and I shudder every time I hear it.

Jacqueline Baxter, senior digital strategist, DX, Sitecore

I cannot stand the word phygital. It is the worst portmanteau of all time, and I shudder every time I hear it, says @JaxBaxter via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Reach out

I’m going to “reach out” to Katie. How about we just go back to saying “contact”?

Justin Ethington, partner, TrendCandy

Instead of saying reach out, how about we just go back to saying contact, asks Justin Ethington of TrendCandy.

SEO optimized, SEO content

Early in the existence of these terms, they were used to transition a legacy flow to something that could perform. Over time, the terms have been associated with low-quality or checkbox processes.

Building content that is high quality and has the potential to perform is the silo breaker, while SEO edits and the debasing of SEO by classifying content as “SEO content” create silos.

Jeff Coyle, co-founder, CSO, MarketMuse

Single source of truth

It’s hard to pick a winner for this one, but for content marketing, I’ll have to go with “single source of truth.” There’s simply no way to have a single source of truth if you’re doing your job correctly. So martech and CMS vendors, please stop contacting me on LinkedIn telling me you’ve got a solution for this.

Jenn Vande Zande, editor-in-chief, SAP Customer Experience

There’s no way to have a single source of truth. So martech and CMS vendors, please stop contacting me on LinkedIn telling me you’ve got a solution for this, says @jennvzande via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet


It makes me cringe. I’ve read so much B2B copy where a company talks about providing a solution but leaves me with absolutely no idea of what they actually do.

Is it software you’re selling? Hardware? Consulting? What? Don’t get me wrong. The ability to solve a prospect’s problem is huge. However, when people can’t determine what you’re offering – how it is that you can actually help them — it makes your solution less appealing.

For example, the company promising the solution to my need to get more customers could be peddling marketing automation, media, creative services, research, printing, or something else.

Skip the hackneyed phrase. Proceed directly to specificity and clarity. At least, that’s the solution I’d offer (wink, wink).

Nancy Harhut, CCO, HBT Marketing

Solution makes me cringe. Skip the hackneyed phrase. Proceed directly to specificity and clarity, says @nharhut via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

But it’s not just words and phrases that are irritating to hear and read. How many of these sentences (and one question) do you come across in a week?

Add value

I encourage all marketers to ditch this business phrase. We need to think of another way of talking about the purpose of our content reviews because reviewers often feel like they must make an addition to something to make it stronger.

Too often, this means that people we ask to review a piece of content or a creative brief feel obligated to add ideas just for the sake of adding something new. Sometimes you don’t need to “add value.” Sometimes you need to recognize other people’s value and acknowledge that their draft perfectly meets the need of the project or campaign.

Erika Heald, founder, lead consultant, Erika Heald Marketing Consulting

Sometimes you don’t need to add value. Sometimes you need to acknowledge that a draft perfectly meets the need, says @sferika via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Can you make this go viral?

This tells me that a client doesn’t understand how public relations/content marketing work. Going viral became a thing back in the 2000s. Quora says the term to “describe rapid and widespread social proliferation of a meme or product” started picking up steam in 2008. I imagine it’s been causing marketing folks headaches ever since.

Clients need to understand that the only way to ensure you’ll be featured is to pay for an ad. Public relations and content marketing take time and dedicated effort. Very little success is had overnight.”

Michelle Garrett, consultant, Garrett Public Relations

Going viral became a thing in the 2000s. PR and #ContentMarketing take time and dedicated effort. Very little success is had overnight, says @PRisUs via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Content is king

Can we throw this phrase out yet? Content is most definitely royalty (insert hair flip here), but it’s not a domineering force that can claim its rightful throne in search results just by existing. Showing up on page one of search results takes work. Driving qualified traffic takes work. It takes only a birthright to be king. Existence does not equal excellence.

Haley Collins, director of operations and content, GPO

Can we throw content is king phrase out yet? #Content is most definitely royalty, but it’s not a domineering force that can claim its rightful throne in search results, says Haley Collins via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Done is better than perfect

OK, I understand how positive an agile mindset is. However, I see many teams using this quote as permission to create low-quality content. Done is better than perfect only when it comes to the first step of a project. During the rest of your life, please make sure your content creators will always run after the perfection stage.

Cassio Politi, founder, Tracto Content Marketing

I hope this email finds you well

I don’t necessarily hate it, but I don’t understand where it emanated from. Why wouldn’t you just say you hope the person is doing well?

Michael Bordieri, senior content solutions consultant, LinkedIn

It is what it is

It is an awful saying, which I am trying not to use anymore. It normalizes a status quo that is immovable and defeatist. I believe anything can change, and as content marketers, we know the power and impact of words, imagery, and video to make what it is, everything it can be.

Karen McFarlane, chief marketing officer, LetterShop

Let’s table that

Whenever someone doesn’t want to make an actual decision, this phrase comes out. No better way to leave something unaddressed until it becomes a real issue than by leaving it “on the table.”

Brian Piper, director of content strategy and assessment, University of Rochester

Think outside the box

What does that even mean, anyway?!

Chris Ducker, founder,

What does think outside the box even mean anyway, asks @ChrisDucker via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

We need to push

When I am in a marketing strategy meeting and hear the words, “We need to push.” Nope. Who wants to be pushed into anything? It needs to stop.

Instead, let’s start with better questions about the consumer or potential client’s mindset. “How can we engage?” and “Who cares about this product or service?”

Jacquie Chakirelis, chief digital strategy officer, Quest Digital/ Great Lakes Publishing

What keeps you up at night?

I was just put in my place when I asked a client, “What keeps you up at night?” He looked at me and said, “Mike, you can do better than that.” He went on to tell me that what keeps him up at night has nothing to do with business or the services I sell. It’s his kids, gun reform, the war, and other things. So I hate what I used to say.

Michael Weiss, vice president of consulting services and solutions, Creative Circle

You’re on mute

OK, this isn’t business-speak per se, but it’s a line you hear in every business meeting. Over two years in with “all Zoom, all the time,” I don’t know why we’re not better trained to unmute ourselves before we speak. Maybe the video meeting platforms will solve this challenge using technology (e.g., have an optional setting to automatically unmute you when you start speaking, using AI to adjust for when the dog barks).

Dennis Shiao, founder, Attention Retention

Before this article is concluded (because a list like this is never complete), let’s hit on some broad categories that can thwart and disrupt the audience’s consumption of your content.


Technical B2B industries are huge abusers of acronyms. There is a place for them, of course, but to limit confusion and ensure your message is received, do these things:

  • Create an acronym guide for internal reference
  • Always spell the full phrase at first mention with the acronym in parentheses.

Wendy Covey, CEO and co-founder, TREW Marketing

Technical B2B industries are huge abusers of acronyms. To limit confusion, always spell the full phrase at first mention with the acronym in parentheses, says @wendycovey via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Gendered language

We all need to think about our audiences and make everyone feel included and respected. Stop saying “you guys” in meetings. Replace “man-hours” with “people-hours.” Think about industry-specific terms that may isolate people and aim to be more inclusive. Speak up to help others shift toward kinder, more culturally appropriate language.

Penny Gralewski, senior director, product and portfolio marketing, DataRobot

Stop saying you guys in meetings. Speak up to help others shift toward kinder, more culturally appropriate language, says @virtualpenny via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Hustle mentality language

I hate any and all jargon promoting the hustle mentality, such as “Just put your head down and grind” and “Work until it’s worth it.”

This makes people feel like the goal is to serve your business, but your business is supposed to serve your family and other people.

If you’re always working, you aren’t serving anyone well. Obviously, you have to work hard, but that can’t be the only thing you do. You must invest time and money into things that bring you energy and joy. Otherwise, you are hustling forever. At the end of it, maybe you have a lot of money, but you no longer have any relationships to enjoy it with you.

Tim Schmoyer, founder/CEO, Video Creators

Why Y?

I hate the gratuitous addition of “y” to words like relevance, competence, and resilience. There’s no distinction in the definition, and it’s gratuitously cluttery. Whyyyyyyy?

Carmen Hill, principal strategist and writer, Chill Content

I hate the gratuitous addition of y to words like relevance, competence, and resilience. There’s no distinction in the definition. Whyyyyyyy? @CarmenHIll via @CMIContent. #CMWorld Click To Tweet

Think before you speak (or write)

Christopher Penn, chief data scientist,, says he’s most bothered when people use jargon to exclude others or obscure the truth: “When you use jargon, you’re intending to make things less clear, less obvious, less accessible, less inclusive. Given that many of us have pledged to be more inclusive, jargon is contrary to that goal.”

Are you guilty of using any of these? Which ones make you tune out, stumble, or scream silently as you read? Share in the comments.


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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

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Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat



Building Customer Trust: Comparing Credibility of Custom Chatbots & Live Chat

Addressing customer issues quickly is not merely a strategy to distinguish your brand; it’s an imperative for survival in today’s fiercely competitive marketplace.

Customer frustration can lead to customer churn. That’s precisely why organizations employ various support methods to ensure clients receive timely and adequate assistance whenever they require it.

Nevertheless, selecting the most suitable support channel isn’t always straightforward. Support teams often grapple with the choice between live chat and chatbots.

The automation landscape has transformed how businesses engage with customers, elevating chatbots as a widely embraced support solution. As more companies embrace technology to enhance their customer service, the debate over the credibility of chatbots versus live chat support has gained prominence.

However, customizable chatbot continue to offer a broader scope for personalization and creating their own chatbots.

In this article, we will delve into the world of customer support, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of both chatbots and live chat and how they can influence customer trust. By the end, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of which option may be the best fit for your business.

The Rise of Chatbots

Chatbots have become increasingly prevalent in customer support due to their ability to provide instant responses and cost-effective solutions. These automated systems use artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to engage with customers in real-time, making them a valuable resource for businesses looking to streamline their customer service operations.

Advantages of Chatbots

24/7 Availability

One of the most significant advantages of custom chatbots is their round-the-clock availability. They can respond to customer inquiries at any time, ensuring that customers receive support even outside regular business hours.


Custom Chatbots provide consistent responses to frequently asked questions, eliminating the risk of human error or inconsistency in service quality.


Implementing chatbots can reduce operational costs by automating routine inquiries and allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues.


Chatbots can handle multiple customer interactions simultaneously, making them highly scalable as your business grows.

Disadvantages of Chatbots

Limited Understanding

Chatbots may struggle to understand complex or nuanced inquiries, leading to frustration for customers seeking detailed information or support.

Lack of Empathy

Chatbots lack the emotional intelligence and empathy that human agents can provide, making them less suitable for handling sensitive or emotionally charged issues.

Initial Setup Costs

Developing and implementing chatbot technology can be costly, especially for small businesses.

The Role of Live Chat Support

Live chat support, on the other hand, involves real human agents who engage with customers in real-time through text-based conversations. While it may not offer the same level of automation as custom chatbots, live chat support excels in areas where human interaction and empathy are crucial.

Advantages of Live Chat

Human Touch

Live chat support provides a personal touch that chatbots cannot replicate. Human agents can empathize with customers, building a stronger emotional connection.

Complex Issues

For inquiries that require a nuanced understanding or involve complex problem-solving, human agents are better equipped to provide in-depth assistance.

Trust Building

Customers often trust human agents more readily, especially when dealing with sensitive matters or making important decisions.


Human agents can adapt to various customer personalities and communication styles, ensuring a positive experience for diverse customers.

Disadvantages of Live Chat

Limited Availability

Live chat support operates within specified business hours, which may not align with all customer needs, potentially leading to frustration.

Response Time

The speed of response in live chat support can vary depending on agent availability and workload, leading to potential delays in customer assistance.


Maintaining a live chat support team with trained agents can be expensive, especially for smaller businesses strategically.

Building Customer Trust: The Credibility Factor

When it comes to building customer trust, credibility is paramount. Customers want to feel that they are dealing with a reliable and knowledgeable source. Both customziable chatbots and live chat support can contribute to credibility, but their effectiveness varies in different contexts.

Building Trust with Chatbots

Chatbots can build trust in various ways:


Chatbots provide consistent responses, ensuring that customers receive accurate information every time they interact with them.

Quick Responses

Chatbots offer instant responses, which can convey a sense of efficiency and attentiveness.

Data Security

Chatbots can assure customers of their data security through automated privacy policies and compliance statements.

However, custom chatbots may face credibility challenges when dealing with complex issues or highly emotional situations. In such cases, the lack of human empathy and understanding can hinder trust-building efforts.

Building Trust with Live Chat Support

Live chat support, with its human touch, excels at building trust in several ways:


Human agents can show empathy by actively listening to customers’ concerns and providing emotional support.

Tailored Solutions

Live chat agents can tailor solutions to individual customer needs, demonstrating a commitment to solving their problems.


Human agents can adapt to changing customer requirements, ensuring a personalized and satisfying experience.

However, live chat support’s limitations, such as availability and potential response times, can sometimes hinder trust-building efforts, especially when customers require immediate assistance.

Finding the Right Balance

The choice between custom chatbots and live chat support is not always binary. Many businesses find success by integrating both options strategically:

Initial Interaction

Use chatbots for initial inquiries, providing quick responses, and gathering essential information. This frees up human agents to handle more complex cases.

Escalation to Live Chat

Implement a seamless escalation process from custom chatbots to live chat support when customer inquiries require a higher level of expertise or personal interaction.

Continuous Improvement

Regularly analyze customer interactions and feedback to refine your custom chatbot’s responses and improve the overall support experience.


In the quest to build customer trust, both chatbots and live chat support have their roles to play. Customizable Chatbots offer efficiency, consistency, and round-the-clock availability, while live chat support provides the human touch, empathy, and adaptability. The key is to strike the right balance, leveraging the strengths of each to create a credible and trustworthy customer support experience. By understanding the unique advantages and disadvantages of both options, businesses can make informed decisions to enhance customer trust and satisfaction in the digital era.

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The Rise in Retail Media Networks



A shopping cart holding the Amazon logo to represent the rise in retail media network advertising.

As LL Cool J might say, “Don’t call it a comeback. It’s been here for years.”

Paid advertising is alive and growing faster in different forms than any other marketing method.

Magna, a media research firm, and GroupM, a media agency, wrapped the year with their ad industry predictions – expect big growth for digital advertising in 2024, especially with the pending US presidential political season.

But the bigger, more unexpected news comes from the rise in retail media networks – a relative newcomer in the industry.

Watch CMI’s chief strategy advisor Robert Rose explain how these trends could affect marketers or keep reading for his thoughts:

GroupM expects digital advertising revenue in 2023 to conclude with a 5.8% or $889 billion increase – excluding political advertising. Magna believes ad revenue will tick up 5.5% this year and jump 7.2% in 2024. GroupM and Zenith say 2024 will see a more modest 4.8% growth.

Robert says that the feeling of an ad slump and other predictions of advertising’s demise in the modern economy don’t seem to be coming to pass, as paid advertising not only survived 2023 but will thrive in 2024.

What’s a retail media network?

On to the bigger news – the rise of retail media networks. Retail media networks, the smallest segment in these agencies’ and research firms’ evaluation, will be one of the fastest-growing and truly important digital advertising formats in 2024.

GroupM suggests the $119 billion expected to be spent in the networks this year and should grow by a whopping 8.3% in the coming year.  Magna estimates $124 billion in ad revenue from retail media networks this year.

“Think about this for a moment. Retail media is now almost a quarter of the total spent on search advertising outside of China,” Robert points out.

You’re not alone if you aren’t familiar with retail media networks. A familiar vernacular in the B2C world, especially the consumer-packaged goods industry, retail media networks are an advertising segment you should now pay attention to.

Retail media networks are advertising platforms within the retailer’s network. It’s search advertising on retailers’ online stores. So, for example, if you spend money to advertise against product keywords on Amazon, Walmart, or Instacart, you use a retail media network.

But these ad-buying networks also exist on other digital media properties, from mini-sites to videos to content marketing hubs. They also exist on location through interactive kiosks and in-store screens. New formats are rising every day.

Retail media networks make sense. Retailers take advantage of their knowledge of customers, where and why they shop, and present offers and content relevant to their interests. The retailer uses their content as a media company would, knowing their customers trust them to provide valuable information.

Think about these 2 things in 2024

That brings Robert to two things he wants you to consider for 2024 and beyond. The first is a question: Why should you consider retail media networks for your products or services?   

Advertising works because it connects to the idea of a brand. Retail media networks work deep into the buyer’s journey. They use the consumer’s presence in a store (online or brick-and-mortar) to cross-sell merchandise or become the chosen provider.

For example, Robert might advertise his Content Marketing Strategy book on Amazon’s retail network because he knows his customers seek business books. When they search for “content marketing,” his book would appear first.

However, retail media networks also work well because they create a brand halo effect. Robert might buy an ad for his book in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal because he knows their readers view those media outlets as reputable sources of information. He gains some trust by connecting his book to their media properties.

Smart marketing teams will recognize the power of the halo effect and create brand-level experiences on retail media networks. They will do so not because they seek an immediate customer but because they can connect their brand content experience to a trusted media network like Amazon, Nordstrom, eBay, etc.

The second thing Robert wants you to think about relates to the B2B opportunity. More retail media network opportunities for B2B brands are coming.

You can already buy into content syndication networks such as Netline, Business2Community, and others. But given the astronomical growth, for example, of Amazon’s B2B marketplace ($35 billion in 2023), Robert expects a similar trend of retail media networks to emerge on these types of platforms.   

“If I were Adobe, Microsoft, Salesforce, HubSpot, or any brand with big content platforms, I’d look to monetize them by selling paid sponsorship of content (as advertising or sponsored content) on them,” Robert says.

As you think about creative ways to use your paid advertising spend, consider the retail media networks in 2024.

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AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions



AI driving an exponential increase in marketing technology solutions

The martech landscape is expanding and AI is the prime driving force. That’s the topline news from the “Martech 2024” report released today. And, while that will get the headline, the report contains much more.

Since the release of the most recent Martech Landscape in May 2023, 2,042 new marketing technology tools have surfaced, bringing the total to 13,080 — an 18.5% increase. Of those, 1,498 (73%) were AI-based. 

Screenshot 2023 12 05 110428 800x553

“But where did it land?” said Frans Riemersma of Martech Tribe during a joint video conference call with Scott Brinker of ChiefMartec and HubSpot. “And the usual suspect, of course, is content. But the truth is you can build an empire with all the genAI that has been surfacing — and by an empire, I mean, of course, a business.”

Content tools accounted for 34% of all the new AI tools, far ahead of video, the second-place category, which had only 4.85%. U.S. companies were responsible for 61% of these tools — not surprising given that most of the generative AI dynamos, like OpenAI, are based here. Next up was the U.K. at 5.7%, but third place was a big surprise: Iceland — with a population of 373,000 — launched 4.6% of all AI martech tools. That’s significantly ahead of fourth place India (3.5%), whose population is 1.4 billion and which has a significant tech industry. 

Dig deeper: 3 ways email marketers should actually use AI

The global development of these tools shows the desire for solutions that natively understand the place they are being used. 

“These regional products in their particular country…they’re fantastic,” said Brinker. “They’re loved, and part of it is because they understand the culture, they’ve got the right thing in the language, the support is in that language.”

Now that we’ve looked at the headline stuff, let’s take a deep dive into the fascinating body of the report.

The report: A deeper dive

Marketing technology “is a study in contradictions,” according to Brinker and Riemersma. 

In the new report they embrace these contradictions, telling readers that, while they support “discipline and fiscal responsibility” in martech management, failure to innovate might mean “missing out on opportunities for competitive advantage.” By all means, edit your stack meticulously to ensure it meets business value use cases — but sure, spend 5-10% of your time playing with “cool” new tools that don’t yet have a use case. That seems like a lot of time.

Similarly, while you mustn’t be “carried away” by new technology hype cycles, you mustn’t ignore them either. You need to make “deliberate choices” in the realm of technological change, but be agile about implementing them. Be excited by martech innovation, in other words, but be sensible about it.

The growing landscape

Consolidation for the martech space is not in sight, Brinker and Riemersma say. Despite many mergers and acquisitions, and a steadily increasing number of bankruptcies and dissolutions, the exponentially increasing launch of new start-ups powers continuing growth.

It should be observed, of course, that this is almost entirely a cloud-based, subscription-based commercial space. To launch a martech start-up doesn’t require manufacturing, storage and distribution capabilities, or necessarily a workforce; it just requires uploading an app to the cloud. That is surely one reason new start-ups appear at such a startling rate. 

Dig deeper: AI ad spending has skyrocketed this year

As the authors admit, “(i)f we measure by revenue and/or install base, the graph of all martech companies is a ‘long tail’ distribution.” What’s more, focus on the 200 or so leading companies in the space and consolidation can certainly be seen.

Long-tail tools are certainly not under-utilized, however. Based on a survey of over 1,000 real-world stacks, the report finds long-tail tools constitute about half of the solutions portfolios — a proportion that has remained fairly consistent since 2017. The authors see long-tail adoption where users perceive feature gaps — or subpar feature performance — in their core solutions.

Composability and aggregation

The other two trends covered in detail in the report are composability and aggregation. In brief, a composable view of a martech stack means seeing it as a collection of features and functions rather than a collection of software products. A composable “architecture” is one where apps, workflows, customer experiences, etc., are developed using features of multiple products to serve a specific use case.

Indeed, some martech vendors are now describing their own offerings as composable, meaning that their proprietary features are designed to be used in tandem with third-party solutions that integrate with them. This is an evolution of the core-suite-plus-app-marketplace framework.

That framework is what Brinker and Riemersma refer to as “vertical aggregation.” “Horizontal aggregation,” they write, is “a newer model” where aggregation of software is seen not around certain business functions (marketing, sales, etc.) but around a layer of the tech stack. An obvious example is the data layer, fed from numerous sources and consumed by a range of applications. They correctly observe that this has been an important trend over the past year.

Build it yourself

Finally, and consistent with Brinker’s long-time advocacy for the citizen developer, the report detects a nascent trend towards teams creating their own software — a trend that will doubtless be accelerated by support from AI.

So far, the apps that are being created internally may be no more than “simple workflows and automations.” But come the day that app development is so democratized that it will be available to a wide range of users, the software will be a “reflection of the way they want their company to operate and the experiences they want to deliver to customers. This will be a powerful dimension for competitive advantage.”

Constantine von Hoffman contributed to this report.

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