Growthverse attempts the impossible: making sense of marketing tech

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“Out of chaos comes order.”

For any enterprise, marketing is a challenge and making good technology choices is daunting. Unsurprisingly, the marketing technology landscape—or martech, if you prefer—can be overwhelming.

Typically, marketers turn to colleagues, friends in the industry, and/or analyst reports to figure out what best fits their needs. But the problem with sources like these is that feedback is scattered. It’s spread across 15 different emails in your (already overcrowded) inbox, or across 20 tweet replies from people of varied reputability.

Historically, the only place to go to get an overview of the marketing technology landscape has been Scott Brinker’s supergraphic, which gets updated every year to highlight new companies and, more importantly, show how quickly the industry is growing.

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Earlier this year, we were approached by Kobie Fuller of Accel Partners and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff of Mozilla to help create an easy-to-navigate interactive infographic providing a visual representation of this industry, including details about each company and what it has to offer.

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We turned their spreadsheet-based taxonomy—which they thoughtfully developed in collaboration with dozens of CMOs—into an interactive galaxy called the Growthverse. This martech landscape allows marketers to zoom in and out of categories to reveal a list of companies that can help them solve their toughest marketing challenges.

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Funny thing, though. The Growthverse itself represented a marketing and technology challenge itself.

It’s an elegant, interactive effort to create a sane visualization of the marketing tech landscape that has otherwise been depicted as an insane circle of Hell by marketing tech specialist Scott Brinker.

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This interactive HTML5 topology was coauthored by Kobie Fuller, a partner at VC firm Accel Partners, and Jascha Kaykas-Wolff, chief marketing officer at the Mozilla Foundation. The site was built by Beutler Ink, a digital agency that specializes in data visualization and social media marketing.

They turned the 2,000 or so companies in Brinker’s landscape into a mere 600 by making judgment calls based on what they understood people were using. Mercifully, ad tech was left out as a separate category, although it is represented in several tools.

Any marketer using the visualization, however, will first have to decide which categories and subcategories at each level are relevant to their question.

The “structured taxonomy,” as Fuller calls it, is not really structured to provide answers. At the bottom level, the companies are listed and linked but without any qualitative assessment.

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The idea was born by recognizing the ever-changing role of the marketer, as technology becomes a critical part for how practitioners do their job. The channels in which customers interact with brands are exploding, as is the underlying plumbing that connects everything together. The role of the marketer has evolved to a place where understanding the best technology to utilize is almost as important as the strategy that these tools are helping bring to life. These technology choices are abundant and confusing (and only getting more confusing as more vendors enter the landscape).

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