Tech-optimism and utopian delusions at Marketing Technology 2016

Tech-optimism and utopian delusions at Marketing Technology 2016

This article will take you 4 minute(s) to read

On December 6th The AdFo Group and Crux Digital hosted their annual Marketing Technology event that took place at Mediaplaza in the Jaarbeurs Utrecht. Professionals working in the field of Marketing and Technology gathered together to learn from each other, and to discuss important issues in the field. Wonderflow won the Martech Startup Award which gets them € 25K worth of media spending at AdFo. All day there was tremendous positivity in the air, to the extent we can wonder if marketeers may not be getting ahead of themselves in their enthusiasm for technological development.


Walking around in Mediaplaza for the first time is in itself already an overwhelming experience of what technological innovation has to offer. Before arriving at the lecture hall, visitors find themselves surrounded by uncountable impressive LED-lights, and at some places it almost feels like being in a science-fiction movie. Technological innovation; stimulated and praised by many, while questioned by others.

Technology and Marketing

Marketing is one of the disciplines that is developing alongside new technological findings. The event was a great opportunity for networking, but also to find out what is going on in the world of Marketing and Technology. There were three rounds with workshops, in which participants could listen to a professional in the field. The underlying question in many of those workshops, was: “how can we use technology to improve marketing techniques?”

Everything happens online

In the Western world, marketing is increasingly shifting from offline to online. New marketing methods are being developed, which enable a company to reach its customers in ways that were unthinkable of 20 years ago. Those methods include getting information about the customer’s preferences, that marketeers can use to sell more products to potential buyers. Obviously, marketeers are very interested in the different ways in which technology could improve their business.

Technology, progress or not?

Technological development has been part of the social debate for a long time. In his workshop The Business Case of MarTech, Wil Wurtz explained the difference between tech-optimism on the one hand, and tech-pessimism on the other hand. Brynjolfsson en McAfee, the writers of the book The Second Machine Age are an example of the first group. Assuming that digitization is the future, they give advice on how to prepare ourselves for this new, robotized world. Tech-pessimists, on the other hand, do not share the view that technology can save the world.


The panel members of a debate in the workshop Dialogue Marketing and Technology, definitely belong to the tech-optimist camp. One of the members urged the participants to “embrace technology”, and to see the benefits it has to offer to the world of marketing. Peak moment was when one of the panel members claimed: “The world is becoming a marketplace. The only important thing left will be the satisfaction of needs. Everything will be automated. Within 40 years, no one will work anymore.” Is this just optimism, or is it perhaps a Eurocentric form of megalomania?

Europe’s tech-bubble

In Europe’s tech-bubble, people may think that technology is soon to take over the entire world. It is undeniable that technology has brought a lot of comfort and benefits to the Western world. However, the optimists seem to overlook some crucial challenges. In many parts of the world, people do still not have access to electricity every day. The utopian worldview expressed here applies to an incredibly small part of the world’s population. Not to mention the consequences technological development has for global warming. Within 40 years no one will work anymore? On the contrary, there will be plenty of work left to do.

Have something to say?! Feel free to comment!