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This month Transparently Speaking is about…speaking. If I’m being honest, there is nothing transparent about the jargon we use in the marketing and advertising technology industry. There’s certainly nothing wrong with some industry lexicon, most career fields have their own. In fact, one of our own articles this month is titled Navigating the Programmatic Acronym Jungle: The Power of Supply Path Optimization. But one has to wonder if we aren’t perhaps holding ourselves back by trying to recreate some form of Klingon that not even ChatGPT could interpret*. Having a kind of shorthand can be very beneficial for efficiency’s sake, but I’d caution us to consider some of the negative consequences and perhaps make an effort to speak…more transparently!

Are You Limiting Your Personal Growth Potential

Twelve years ago I found myself on the brand side deeply involved in the emerging worlds of programmatic advertising and measurement. When given the opportunity to pitch my CMO on the investments we needed to make it would have been easy to go in talking about OTP (on-target percentage), CPMs (cost per thousand impressions), IVT (in-valid traffic), CTRs (click through rates) and CAC (cost per acquisition). That would have been a very short and very unsuccessful pitch. Instead I talked about baseball. The CMO loved my analogies and approved my request.

Beyond just confusing your leadership, by speaking heavily through the megaphone of AdTech jargon you also run the risk of pigeonholing yourself into a proverbial box. I have seen more than once very talented individuals come across as real knowledge experts within their organizations only for their leadership to assume that means they can’t, or don’t want to, broaden their areas of expertise and responsibility. When you force yourself to use less jargon and speak more plainly it often highlights your ability to see the bigger picture.

How to Lose Clients and Stakeholders

You may work inside a large advertiser or sell products and services to them, either way you have clients and stakeholders, whether internal or external. In some cases they may be impressed that you know the difference between a composable CDP and a reverse ETL. But more likely you are going to get a blank stare. When trying to convey the value of marketing technology and data, the old adage of “know your audience” is sage advice. Unless your client or stakeholder runs as deep in this space as you, maybe dial back the acronyms and explain things in what one of my former bosses calls “Elmo shapes”. Keep it simple and focus on the value story, not the litany of words that so often roll off our tongues.

Do it for the New Hires

We are fortunate at Transparent Partners to have staff with a variety of years of experience. For myself, it has been interesting over the past 6 months to observe the interactions amongst our younger employees and those with a few more years under their belts. If I had to guess, almost every project meeting includes a newer employee having to ask for the secret decoder ring just to know what is being discussed. Our overuse of “MadTech slang” not only causes confusion, it presents a barrier to quick onboarding and fast learning. Let’s maybe cut the new hires some slack and explain how we help brands grow through a little more plain spoken language. Not only will they appreciate it but you’ll also be setting a good example for avoiding the pitfalls mentioned above.

At Transparent Partners we seek to be the best guides, advisors, shepherds, doers and consultants we can be for our clients. Sometimes that role needs to include “interpreter”. We will strive to make the powerful but often complex world of marketing technology and consumer data easier to understand and valuable to your business. Oh, and we also like to have some FUN. So in the spirit of having some fun with all this MarTech/AdTech mumbo jumbo, our newest team member, Wes Waterston, put together a special something you may enjoy. I present: Adtech Is Easy (COMEDY). Watch and enjoy.

*Actually, I tested and it performed better than I expected when presented with a bunch of AdTech acronyms. Go figure.

Aaron Fetters, Managing Partner, CEO