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The three marketing buzzwords of September

For September, we analyze three new buzzwords: retargeting, visual listening, and martech.

By now, we’re used to seeing our vocabularies in rapid evolution. In the last year alone, the Oxford Dictionary added over 1500 entries. Among the neologisms in the last year, “hangry” (feelings of anger or irritability as a result of hunger), “YOLO” (an abbreviation for ‘You Only Live Once’), and “pocket dial” (to accidentally call someone while the phone is in the pocket).

As every marketer knows well, the diffusion of new words and phrases in our industry is even more frenetic. Every year, dozens of new bizarre words come to our ears. Sometimes they describe new technologies, or new marketing approaches. But other times, the new marketing buzzwords are just flashes in the pan that disappear shortly after their introduction. In some cases, neologisms do not bring any real novelty, as they just describe pre-existing practices that come back in style, simply putting a new label on them.

Even if oftentimes buzzwords don’t actually describe anything new, it’s important to keep up with all the new terms. This allows us to recognize those that represent new important ideas, and those that are just “fly-by-night” concepts and sayings.

This month, we’ll analyze three new marketing buzzwords: retargeting, visual listening, and martech that are significant as they indicate changes in the way we market and sell.



This term might sound new to you. However, it refers to a mechanism that you have been “victim” to many times. You leave your favorite social network to buy a product on an e-commerce site – say a new camera on Amazon. After much thought, you decide not to buy it. You’re back on social media and… between a cute kitten and a post from your friend who keenly points out how warm it has been, there is the same camera popping up again. It is exactly the one you thought of buying. It’s back, and it’s winking at you, as if wanting to tell you: “Are you sure you don’t want to buy me?”

This is “retargeting,” also known as “remarketing” — the possibility to add targeted advertising within digital platforms (e.g. social media) depending on your previous web navigation history.  Everyone has heard of cookies; they make this retargeting process possible.

Retargeting is a recent marketing technique, and it’s far from perfect. In fact, our smartphones, tablets, and laptops aren’t (yet) able to perceive who’s actually typing on a device’s keyboard to run a web search. They can just assume that since you’re the device’s owner, you’re also the actual user. However, if for instance your mother or your partner borrows your phone, you could find your Facebook wall invaded by sponsored posts promoting products not really in line with your interests.

Interestingly, the “is it a gift” button that you see before completing a purchase on an e-commerce website (including Amazon) is not a kind way to see if you’d like a nice gift wrapping. Rather, it’s a subtle strategy for the website to know that the product you bought is not for yourself and won’t contribute to creating a “more intelligent” consumer profile. This profile will determine the targeted ads that you see online. At the moment, it’s the best way to get around sending customers the wrong marketing messages.

Visual listening

Companies have long been interested in knowing trends, needs, and opinions of both actual and potential customers. Today, this listening activity is facilitated by social media, platforms where many users voluntarily share information about products and services. Social listening, in fact, is a term that defines this proactive screening activity that companies carry out on social media in order to intercept potentially valuable information on their business – for instance, the consumers’ sentiment about a new product.

The term visual listening refers to a very similar practice, but applied to images. Companies, brands, agencies are increasingly using software that allows measuring and analysis of visual content around the web. What does it mean? On social media, people primarily “talk” through images. Think of Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, or Tumblr, where words are corollary to visual elements. If companies limited themselves to the analysis of texts, they would in fact have only a partial vision of the real digital conversations that happen online.

Let’s take a concrete example. Coca-Cola, for instance, thanks to visual listening software could monitor not only those who use the keywords “Coca-Cola” (and its variants), but also anyone who posts a picture with a Coke in it. This practice would allow the company behind the world’s most popular soda to have much more information about consumer habits – for instance discovering that a famous person who has social influence has posted content related to the brand, or that many people post pictures of Coke associated with specific foods.



Martech, the abbreviation for ‘marketing technology,’ is the hottest buzzword in the industry at the moment. In 2016 alone, more than two billion dollars have been spent on martech globally. But what exactly is new in martech? Hasn’t technology always been used in marketing?

Technologies used for marketing are indeed everything but new. What has changed, is the scope of technology within marketing strategies. In the big data era, martech is increasingly important for better understanding and anticipation of customers’ needs — and marketers are increasingly asking software suppliers to provide innovative solutions to support their work.

In this sense, martech can be considered as an evolution of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), inasmuch as it consists of the creation and management of digital tools to support marketers for a variety of activities, including creating awareness, measuring data, or managing client databases.

In conclusion, the martech term is involved in a wide range of marketing activities, whose common denominator is the technological variable or, more precisely, the digital one. Under the martech umbrella, in fact, we can find platforms for CRM, SEO, analytics, big data, but also augmented reality technology, and cloud computing services.

In short, martech is one of those terms that doesn’t introduce an actual new concept or strategy. Yet, it became necessary to describe a pivotal component and fast-becoming industry technology segment — of today’s marketing landscape.

Find out here about the last months’ marketing buzzwords.

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