Marketing terms that are reaching the boardroom in 2013: Part V

Know your marchitecture from your custowner? Make sure you do with our latest instalment of need-to-know buzzwords…

Premium publisher exchange

Definition: When a group of online publishers join forces to sell their advertising inventory on one platform via real-time bidding.

lucy tesseras

Lucy Tesseras explains

With the rise of ‘programmatic’ trading of online ad space comes increased complexity. In order to simplify the process, publishers of well-known titles in several countries have started pooling their inventory, allowing brands to buy across multiple publications from one technology platform in real-time auctions.

This approach enables advertisers to reach audiences on ‘premium’ sites at scale and to execute multiple deals simultaneously. As the network is limited to a certain number of publishers, it gives advertisers certainty about where ads will be placed and that ads won’t appear on inappropriate or competitor sites. This level of control is harder to get from bigger ad exchanges. Combined inventory could also mean advertisers have access to more consistent data than if they were to make individuals deals with publishers, allowing more effective targeting.

On the sell side, meanwhile, publishers clearly benefit from entering into collaborative relationships. It allows them to compete with the likes of Google and Facebook in terms of scale, while also helping them maximise the price they can ask for high-quality ad space when selling via real-time bidding.

Le Place Media in France set the precedent last year after lifestyle publishers Amaury Médias, FigaroMedias, Lagardère Publicité and TF1 Publicité joined forces, and a similar network exists in Denmark.

The Economist also transferred its Ideas People network from the US to the UK last year. It brings together like-minded titles from around the world to offer a unified ad-buying proposition, enabling marketers to reach business decision-makers on a wider scale.

Meanwhile, Future, News International, Hearst and Trinity Mirror have formed an alliance to increase their overall revenues from ads sold against their combined digital traffic in the Netherlands. Whether the principle eventually extends to UK website traffic, where competition is greater and the online ad market more mature, remains to be seen.


Definition: A portmanteau of ‘marketing’ and ‘architecture’, this term can have multiple meanings, both positive and negative. It can also be spelt ‘marketecture’.


Ruth Mortimer explains

Marchitecture, in its plainest sense, refers to a piece of technology that has been produced for marketing reasons. Sometimes the product marketing manager or program manager in charge of the technology is known as its ‘marchitect’, in companies where those kinds of words are tolerated – or even encouraged.

But, more pejoratively, marchitecture is also a term for hype without results or justification. Some use it to describe when a hi-tech product has non-existent system architecture, otherwise known as ‘vapourware’ because it never actually materialises. So in this case, marchitecture stands for when something is marketed in the technology world but never makes it into reality.

It is also used as an insult in another sense, to describe technology where more is claimed for the product’s abilities than seems to be logical. So for example, if someone was to disbelieve the heavy marketing claims that take place around processor speeds or operating systems in the IT world, they might refer to the products being “overloaded with marchitecture”.

With all this confusion over the meaning, should marketers be going around using this term, and if so, how? It has been around for many years, but so confined to the technology world that it is only recently that marketers have begun using it themselves. Most marketers seem to be using it in its most innocent sense, to describe the pieces of digital architecture that back up their digital and content operations.

So if you hear your IT guys who are building your content management system use the term ‘marchitecture’ to describe the system that will allow you to build and manage the digital channels for a global brand, it’s probably pretty positive.

On the other hand, if as a technology marketer, you start noticing a flurry of tweets describing your new product as a piece of “marchitecture”, you might want to rethink your promotional strategy. Immediately.


Definition: Combining ‘customer’ and ‘owner’, a custowner is someone who invests in a project or idea that they also use as a consumer, hoping to gain financial and not just emotional rewards from the business.

Mindi Chahal

Mindi Chahal explains

Labelled as one of the key trends for 2013 by, this is apparently the year where the customer becomes an owner. By mashing these two words together we get a ‘custowner’. identifies this as a new consumption model stemming from a group of people called ‘presumers’ – a term also coined by the trends site. Presumers are consumers who get involved with products and services while they are still in their early stages, by promoting and financing projects through crowdfunding platforms.

One such platform is US-based website Kickstarter which launched in April 2009. According to the site, over $493m has been pledged by more than 3.4 million people, funding over 36,000 creative projects. However, for presumers, there is no financial return on their investment. The reasons people get involved in Kickstarter projects can range from supporting friends’ ideas to the satisfaction of seeing the plan become a reality that they can then enjoy.

Investing can sometimes involve ethical or charitable reasons, as with Who Gives a Crap, an Australian company that launched from a campaign on international crowdfunding site IndieGoGo. The company makes toilet roll and is sending out its first delivery in March. It is founded on the fact that 2.5 billion people across the world do not have access to a toilet, which results in deaths through diarrhoea-related diseases. Half the profits of Who Gives a Crap go to WaterAid, to build toilets in the developing world.

The point is that presumers are looking for something more that just buying a product or service: they want emotional rewards in exchange for their custom. The financial aspect is where the presumer evolves into a custowner. For example, in July last year fast food chain Leon wanted to expand its business, so turned to customers rather than corporate investors, launching Leon Bonds.

Leon aimed to raise £1.5m to fund 10 new restaurants by 2015, which would lead to the brand doubling its existing estate. Customers could invest £1,500, £3,000 or £5,000 for three years at the end of which they get the money back, and depending on the size of their investment, receive £120 to £600 ‘£eon pounds’ a year, equivalent to between 10 and 15 per cent gross return, which can be spent on food, cookbooks or places on the Leon Cookery School.

Scottish craft beer producer BrewDog raised funds to build a new brewery in a similar way in 2009. Allowing this type of investment in services and product launches could work in a brand’s favour, as consumers look for experiences and involvement beyond simply handing money over in return for a commodity.


Definition: One step further from ‘multichannel’, an ‘omnichannel’ business is one that is equally ready and able to reach consumers through any and all channels.

Michael Barnett

Michael Barnett explains

Any business that has been influenced by the internet is likely by now to have a proposition that would qualify as ‘multichannel’. But that word can mean as little as simply selling products through both shops and websites, so recently we have come to need a new name – in the minds of some people at least – for companies that are truly able to serve customers wherever they happen to be.

Being a buzzword, there’s every danger that overexcited people will start to use ‘omnichannel’ to make unwarranted claims about their companies’ digital prowess. But the reason for the coinage appears to be precisely that multichannel businesses aren’t doing what they say on the tin. So a company might have an ecommerce site, a mobile-optimised website, an app or all of the above, but if customers aren’t able to shift seamlessly from one platform to another, then it can’t call itself omnichannel.

By way of explanation, I’ll describe a recent shopping trip I made to buy a North Face jacket from the brand’s Carnaby Street store in London, where there was a sale running. Having found the style I wanted but not the size, I asked a member of staff if it would be in stock somewhere close by. The very helpful attendant called the Covent Garden store, where they had a jacket of the right style and size in stock, but not in the sale because that store is run as a franchise.

I was offered the option of keeping that jacket on hold in Covent Garden, but since I had dinner plans I decided not to make the 20-minute walk to get it. Instead I left the Carnaby Street shop to find an internet connection and search for the jacket online using my smartphone, but I couldn’t place an order because the website isn’t optimised for my mobile. In the end, I had to buy the jacket from the desktop website at home, at full price.

If this had been an omnichannel experience, firstly I would have been able to get the same discount wherever I bought the jacket. Secondly, the Carnaby Street store would have known from a stock-checking system that there was a jacket in my size in Covent Garden without having to phone. And thirdly, having asked if I wanted to walk there to pick it up and been told I didn’t, staff would have been able to help me order the jacket online before I left the store.

I’ve singled out one brand, but the fact is that still relatively few businesses actually work like this. North Face came close to losing my custom without even knowing it. To avoid this happening, all businesses need to start becoming omnichannel by nature, whether or not they choose to use that name.



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