Martech Heroes: Data privacy is like having insurance...

Martech heroes: Parry Malm talks about the martech gold rush

You won’t win prizes for having the biggest policy, but you sure as hell are happy you have it when the shit hits the fan.

In the latest instalment of Martech Heroes, The Drum interviews Parry Malm, co-founder and CEO of Phrasee, to hear his thoughts about the digital marketing landscape. Phrasee empowers global brands with AI-powered copywriting. Malm talks about the martech gold rush, how not to confuse brand values with corporate governance when it comes to investing in data privacy tools, and how best to manage martech. Malm also addresses how pure marketing technology management is just one facet of the multiple disciplines required to effectively run a marketing function.

The Drum: Marketing, technology, and management are silos of the past. Marketing technology management is the fabric of the future. But is it really? What is the state of play of the industry?

Parry Malm: We are in a martech gold rush, so the prevailing narrative is about martech. However, over time, these technologies will become the de facto norm within marketing organisations and will no longer be such a “hot topic.”

I think about it like this: 20 years ago, the design industry was disrupted with the advent of, first, Corel Draw and, then, Photoshop. Everyone was talking about the resultant and seemingly boundless possibilities. But now, Photoshop is just part of the daily routine for millions of people. It’s not a hot topic – it’s just normal.

Which leads to my thesis. I don’t believe that pure marketing technology management is a worthwhile pursuit in itself. It’s one facet of the multiple disciplines required to effectively run a marketing function. If you purely focus on the technology, then you will make bad decisions. Conversely, if you don’t account for technological opportunities (and limitations) then you’ll make equally bad decisions.

TD:How would you define martech?

PM: Technology for marketing. Bold, I know. So bold. I’m nothing if not a maverick.

TD: I’ve read about businesses that have sometimes over 400 different types of tools in what they consider their marketing technology stack. What should businesses consider and prioritise when acquiring new marketing technology?. Top tips?

PM: Focus on what you’re trying to achieve. For example: your goal is to maximize eyeshare for a given campaign. Once you’ve got that in mind, then focus on the technologies that enable that goal (shameless plug: this is exactly what Phrasee is good at). If you have an hour to solve a problem, spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem, and 5 minutes worrying about the solution.

TD:Let’s talk data. In light of heightened privacy concerns, data breaches, and GDPR, do you think marketers should shift the narrative and use data privacy as a core tenant of a brand’s values?

PM: It’s important to not confuse brand values with corporate governance. Brand values are the personality factors we attribute to a brand – like how Virgin is funky, Gap is cheap, and Hilton is perhaps luxurious. Data privacy – and equally importantly, its ethical use – are a matter of corporate governance. It’s sort of like insurance – you don’t win prizes for having the biggest policy…but you sure as hell are happy you have it when the shit hits the fan. Poor privacy and ethical practices will negatively impact your brand’s perceived values. Having strong policies, however, won’t be additive by themselves.

TD: In some of our earlier interviews, martech heroes have said It’s easier to buy than to manage when it comes to marketing technology. Do you think there should be a process when managing martech?

PM: On the build versus buy dichotomy your question Is not about build vs buy, it’s about ‘easier to buy than manage. This answer is disconnected from your question, so you night want to re-state your question, there is no perfect solution. Each organization has its own areas of expertise. If you have, for example, a 1) qualified AI research group with 2) domain expertise and 3) spare capacity, it may make sense to scope and build solutions internally. But if you don’t have all three of those equally important factors, then working with qualified vendors is your best option.

Now with that said, I’ve seen huge in-house Martech infrastructure projects balloon in scope and ultimately fail, far more often than I’ve seen successful examples. This is likely because the companies didn’t have equal parts of the three critical ingredients I mentioned before. This means that, more often than not, partnering with point-solution vendors is a long-run competitive advantage.

You can check out our Martech Hero coverage here.

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