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When and How Marketing Became MarTech and a Subspecialty of Data Science? With Marty Kihn of Salesforce

Marketing used to be centered on things like celebrities and brands; but today, as a discipline, marketing is closer to data science and IT

Marketing has always had one purpose — promote a brand and attract more customers. And although that goal has remained the same, 20 years later, we’re seeing the evolution of comprehensive marketing based on technology and science. In a word, MarTech. The fusion of marketing and technology puts a whole new spin on the way marketers approach customers and makes it much more efficient.

Marty Kihn is passionate about how the world’s changing and what those changes bring — and he’s about to tell us more about the new world we’re living in. Kihn is the SVP Strategy, Marketing Cloud at Salesforce. His rich experience at different companies like MTV and Gartner, and on projects like Pop-Up Video, opened the door to Salesforce, one of the most prominent firms for delivering marketing software solutions. He introduces us to a native Salesforce tool called Salesforce CDP, which is “a single view of the customer that takes data from different places, organizes it, makes it available, and then sends it out.”

“One of my customers was Salesforce, and that’s how I got to know the Salesforce people. I was hired by Bob Stutz, who was the CEO of marketing,” explains Marty.

As a recent guest of Identity Revolution, Cory Davis welcomes Marty Kihn — a passionate actor, a stellar writer, and a podcast host who feels nostalgic for the crazy world of the ’90s. Marty is the author of best-sellers like ‘House of Lies’, ‘Customer Data Platforms: Use People Data to Transform the Future of Marketing Engagement’, and other titles that occupy a special place in MarTech.

Marty Kihn’s Impressive Career in a Nutshell

Just like his mother, Marty was determined to become an actor when he was young. While his life path brought him to the theater department at Yale, destiny brought him to New York, where he became a freelance journalist. However, Marty soon realized that writing wouldn’t buy him a house, and business school sounded like a great idea.

“I was on the staff at Forbes for a little bit. There was a magazine called Spy, which was really cool at the time, and it was a startup. That was a satirical magazine in the early ’90s in New York, and I worked for them as a fact-checker. Then I ended up at MTV, and I was on Pop-Up Video. […] We did a Pop-Up Oprah. We did a NewsRadio, which was an NBC show. […] And then I went to business school because I realized I couldn’t pop forever,” explains Marty.

Although he chose business school over TV shows that are now considered a national cultural phenomenon, Marty never wanted to go to Wall Street. So, business school was a good starting point for consulting, advertising, Ad Tech, and eventually, MarTech.

Marketing Has Changed a Lot Over the Last 20 Years

Marty believes that the concept of marketing has gone through significant changes over the last 20 years. Today, marketing approaches are based on technology and data science. Although it might make them more complex, it also makes them more efficient.

“Marketing is almost like a subspecialty of data science. As a marketer, you need to be interested in celebrities and brands. And all that is still important. But you also have to use the other side of the brain, which is very quantitative, and have a good handle on how to share information with a whole bunch of PhDs and data scientists to help you optimize your programs. And that’s a massive shift that’s gotten marketing, as a discipline, closer to IT,” confirms Marty.

The blend of marketing and technology involves artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Although they have been used for years, they are becoming more progressive as their “human side” becomes more advanced.

“Marketers are just beginning to get a handle on this whole AI revolution. And people have used machine learning for predictive models and segmentation for years now. But we have just entered a phase where machines can write readable prose. They can do things that humans did before. And it’s not that they’ve turned into humans. They’re doing a single task. But they’re doing things in a better way, a much more useful way for marketers,” concludes Marty.

Marketing is Becoming More Technical. At the Same Time, It’s Becoming More Important

Marty points out that all the changes and improvements marketing has gone through have helped it become more critical today. While marketing has become quite technical, it’s also become more informative. As a result, marketing technology is a whole new discipline that marketers can rely on to approach the customers more efficiently.

“Marketers are closer to the customer. It’s supposed that if they’re doing their jobs, they have more insight into people, and marketing has stepped up. Marketing has done a good job over the past year and a half in driving revenue and getting systems in place. The two trends are that marketing is getting more technical, and it’s getting more important,” highlights Marty.

The World is Changing so Quickly, and We’re Trying to Capture It Before It Disappears

Marty co-hosts the Paleo Ad Tech podcast, which is about all the popular things back in the ’90s. He started a podcast because of his passion for the history of technology and how the world’s changing. He and his co-host, Jill Royce, get people on the show to discuss the cool stuff that was popular before and the new generations can not even imagine.

“We get some of these people on to talk about things like Yahoo!, homepage takeovers, and things that some people, who were around in the ’90s, might remember. It’s fascinating to see because that whole world is disappearing. It’s all changing so quickly. So, we’re trying to capture it,” explains Marty.

Note: This is based on an episode of Identity Revolution, Infutor’s podcast featuring data-driven experts discussing all things marketing, analytics, and identity. We take a deep dive into industry trends, strategies, and the future of data technology.

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