DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions’ Account Manager/Innovation Lead Nenad Ilić gave an interview to Netokracija and talked about creating the MarTech community.
What is MarTech exactly? How is it different from AdTech? What are the attributes that define these two terms?
I read somewhere that MarTech and AdTech are like peanut butter and chocolate — they always go together. Sometimes the difference between these two terms was clear, while today it is almost invisible. The common denominator of these terms is most certainly technology, and what makes them separate is that MarTech helps us to get to know our users as best as possible using all available data, while AdTech helps us reach them in the optimal way. To be more precise, AdTech targets the masses, while MarTech essentially targets the well-known consumers. At the end of the day, both focus on user data and strive to reach the right person at the right time with the right message.
Our region has successful digital agencies and high-tech start-ups, but it seems that the convergence of these two sectors is yet to take place. Why is that?
I think that the key lies in the very words agency and start-up. No matter how successful agencies are, the start-up mindset is visibly different. Start-ups are more flexible than agencies, and they function on the trial and error principle, while agencies often have very little room for error, which is also expensive in most cases. I would personally like to see the fusion of agencies and start-ups as soon as possible, because I think that on the one hand we could learn a lot from each other, which on the other hand could surely lead to challenging the status quo that is currently dominating the market.
MarTech Meetup: Innovation and New Connectivity in the New Age of Marketing is project by DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions. What is the project about and whom is it intended for?
The MarTech Challenge is designed as an initiative to bring together marketing agencies, new technology, and innovative entrepreneurs in one place. Our main idea is to influence the development of the entire MarTech community through monthly events and presenting the best examples from practice, both in Serbia and the world. Things are changing at an incredible speed globally, and for this reason we want to use the momentum and create sufficient space for the above-mentioned convergence through efforts like this one.
Why did you decide to launch this kind of venture? Can it describe in more detail DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions’s direction in the coming years?
In the previous year, we initiated a strategic approach to the corporate innovation program, and the MarTech Challenge was conceived as part of that. The main idea is for the employees alongside the management to become catalysts of change and start proposing areas where they see potential for innovation, as well as to spark closer collaboration between agencies and start-ups that will bring about quality solutions for our clients and our business in the long run. Direct Media has always kept up with the world when it comes to technology and media trends, and we will continue this practice, especially in the new era that started with DIRECT MEDIA United Solutions’ joining the United Group, whose main attributes are openness and connectivity.
There’s talk of technological innovation in marketing. Do you think it’s possible to create innovative solutions in a market whose ad spend per capita puts it at the very bottom of the AdEx Europe survey?
Our market is one that’s never had extremely high investments in the advertising industry, and despite everything we have been innovative and creative. This is proven by extremely successful start-ups like Hunch, which appeared at the first MarTech Meetup, as well as by awards at local and international festivals won by marketing agencies. The market may be small and underdeveloped, but this is exactly where I see an incredible space for innovation.
How important is it that big companies enable the development of this community? Do you think that the most valuable innovation lies in the organic collaboration between experts from the industry, entrepreneurs, and creative developers?
I firmly believe that big companies are the ones that need to be actively involved in improving the industry while pushing the boundaries of excellence, but I also believe that they’re not the only ones in this process. We are witnessing individuals whose genius ideas changed entire markets and previously the only known ways of doing business. Of course, when companies are joined by experts, entrepreneurs, and creators, the true MarTech community is born, and this unity can bring about serious changes.
Is this really the right way today to ensure innovation that can open a new chapter for a company that comes from established workings of business?
I’m not sure if this is the right way, but I do know that it is a way that has yielded good results so far, because there’s truth in the saying that two heads are better than one. United with entrepreneurs and start-ups like this, we can only come up with better solutions/innovations.
What does the MarTech project include? You are starting with monthly events at the ICT Hub, but that’s not all. What does the project’s timeline by the year’s end look like?
The first in a series of monthly meetups took place at the end of March. The idea is to get together every month and use the experiences of the field’s most successful start-ups and of members of the marketing community, as well as insights into examples from the global market, to come up with topics and ideas we would want to work together on in the future. But that’s not all. We also want to vote the region’s best MarTech start-up by the end of the year, but we’ll talk more about this at the upcoming events.
What is your message for entrepreneurs, developers, product designers, and other members of the local start-up community — why join the MarTech project?
This is a singular opportunity for continuous networking and education. Seemingly ordinary conversations might bring about amazing ideas for future innovative projects. I’m convinced that this is bound to happen when you have so many young and interested people in one place.