CMO's top 10 martech stories for this week - 14 January

Both consolidation and investment are apparent across this week's round-up of the latest marketing technology and ad tech news

NICE acquires Nexidia for US$135m

Enterprise data analytics vendor, NICE, has acquired customer analytics player, Nexidia, in a bid to strengthen its cross-channel analytics offering.

The US$135 million cash deal gives NICE both access to a wider customer base and market reach as well as expanded analytics capabilities. NICE has traditionally focused on providing structure and unstructured data analytics solutions for customer service, compliance and fraud risk management.

Core capabilities of the joint offering will include real-time analytics and intelligence for churn reduction, campaign effectiveness and sales optimisation, compliance solutions, and advanced quality optimisation. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2016.

“The acquisition of Nexidia is part and parcel of our strategy to enhance our analytics offering. It is an important step in our mission to deliver the power of customer data and insight beyond the contact centre,” said NICE Systems CEO, Barak Eilam, who also claimed the pair will have unmatched scalability in the market.

“Nexidia enjoys a reputation for unrivalled technology and domain expertise. Their addition to our company will solidify NICE’s position as an analytics powerhouse.”

Blueshift raises $8m for marketing automation offering

Blueshift, a marketing automation platform provider focused on the B2C space, has scored another US$8 million in series A funding.

The company had previously raised $2.6m in seed funding, attracting the eye of former CMO of ExactTarget, Tim Kopp, as well as New Enterprise Associates and Nexus Venture Partners. Under the latest round led by well-known SaaS investor, Storm Ventures, the fund’s partner and former Salesforce veteran, Anshu Sharma, has joined Blueshift’s board of directors.

Blueshift was founded in 2014 by several data scientists and marketers previously working at WalmartLabs and Groupon and is primarily focused on the B2C ecommerce sector. The platform is powered by an Interaction graph, which captures each visitor’s interactions as they engage across channels, then translates that into engagement and affinity scores that can be applied for targeting and personalisation.

The latest round of investment will be used to accelerate sales and marketing and continue building out the proprietary Interaction Graph platform, the vendor said.

Oracle signals plans for intent data domination with AddThis

Last week’s news that Oracle had acquired audience tracking technology provider, AddThis, has been described by industry analysts as indicative of the enterprise software giant’s efforts to dominate the intent data market.

The enterprise software giant announced the purchase agreement on 5 January, and will make the AddThis business part of the Oracle Data Cloud, a division that also includes former acquisitions, BlueKai and Datalogix. The price tag is expected to reach up to US$200 million according to various international media reports, but has not officially been disclosed.

One analyst speaking to CMO saw the AddThis acquisition as consistent with Oracle’s strategy of expanding its ownership of audience data and in particular, upping the vendor’s position in the “intent data” business.

“It should provide a great addition to Oracle's services for online retailers and numerous other businesses,” said the analyst.

You can read our analysis of the Oracle/AddThis deal in our full report here.

Rapidminer raises US$16m in funding, integrates with InMoment

Open source predictive analytics vendor, RapidMiner, has had a busy January, securing both US$16 million in an equity financing round as well as a new integration partnership with customer management solution, InMoment.

The latest cash injection followed $15m in Series B funding last year, which valued the organisation at $28m. The latest round was led by new investor, Nokia Growth Partners, and will be used to help support and further enable RapidMiner’s rapid growth.

According to a statement, RapidMiner is doubling revenue annually and now maintains more than 100 employees. The vendor was placed in the leaders’ quadrant of Gartner’s Advanced Analytics Magic Quadrant both in 2014 and 2015.

“Our platform streamlines the predictive analytics lifecycle and opens up advanced analytics to citizen data scientists,” said the vendor’s CEO, Peter Lee. “The new funding will allow us to leverage the strength of the product, further invest in sales and marketing, and greatly accelerate our momentum.”

This week, RapidMiner also announced a partnership that will see InMoment’s voice of customer solution combined with RapidMiner’s predictive analytics platform in order to generate actionable customer and business insights. These insights in customer behaviour, fraud, sentiment analysis and so on, are presented using data visualisation tools from Tableau.

InMoment CEO, John Sperry, noted the rising trend for organisations to tap into customer insight to drive business decision making.

“Prior to today’s announcement, businesses primarily had visibility into the rearview mirror, which left them few options but to wait to hear how customers felt about their experiences, and then react,” he said in a statement. “Our partnership with RapidMiner gives them the ability to anticipate customer needs, and act even more strategically.”

By integrating with RapidMiner, InMoment has gained speed and agility in converting customer insights into action, added RapidMiner’s chief revenue officer, Bill Doyle.

“Customer data is a critical asset in an organisation’s ability to harness the power of predictive analytics and to make a positive impact across the business,” he said. “Our partnership with InMoment introduces a new dimension to the customer experience – speed to market – and that will provide organisations with a significant competitive advantage.”

Reach Analytics also secures funding for predictive product set

In another sign of the hype now buzzing about predictive analytics into 2016, B2C vendor, Reach Analytics, has also raised an A1 round of investment led by existing investors.

The company was established in 2013 in San Francisco via the merger of DMRA and RapidBuyr, and provides a marketing cloud platform focused on identifying and qualifying B2C leads, as well as profile and score existing customers. The new funding will be used to finalise development of Reach’s cloud offering. The amount raised has not been disclosed.

“While the predictive marketing space for B2B companies evolved tremendously over the last five years, the B2C marketing space has not seen the same transformation,” Reach Analytics CEO, Bruno Delahaye, said, echoing the sentiment and focus also expressed by Blueshift (mentioned above).

“Reach Analytics is rapidly advancing on bringing those transformations to market within a few short months.”

Reach Analytics has an existing base of US bluechip customers in insurance, banking, retail and healthcare sectors.

New Aussie online tracking tool launches

Australian customer-insight startup, Beehaviour, has launched proprietary software aimed at helping market researchers and organisations gather information about online consumer behaviour.

Beehaviour’s software triggers pre-programmed questions before, during and after participants browse the Web from within their chosen environment. These pre-programmed questions allow researchers and clients alike to understand how and why specific metrics being measured may change because of online behaviour, such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), consideration and awareness.

The software also allows researchers to understand where the target audience browses, when they browse and for how long.

Beehaviour is the brainchild of 30 year-old Sydney-based market researcher Jordan Thomas, who along with his two founding partners, have been developing and refining the software since 2013.

You can read our full story on the launch here.

Flashtalking builds up ad tech attribution with latest purchase

Ad server and reporting company, Flashtalking, has added cross-channel attribution analytics to its ad tech platform via the acquisition of Encore Media Metrics. The deal comes less than four months after the company purchased Device[9], a small cross-device recognition vendor based in Germany that employs user monitoring and targeting based on algorithms, rather than cookies. Financial terms of both deals have not been disclosed.

In a post on its website, Flashtalking said Encore will help solidify its position outside the media buying process and get closer to providing an independent, single source of truth to advertisers on their campaigns.

“The added benefit of algorithmic attribution now joins the stack with enhanced viewability, cookie-less tracking, and the most powerful programmatic creative technology available,” said Flashtalking CEO, John Nardone.

“This allows Flashtalking to be completely on the side of the advertiser, free to act as an independent, dispassionate auditor and optimiser of media performance and inventory quality.”

Founder and CEO of Encore Metrics, Steve Latham, said the two companies had shared values, making the deal a no-brainer.

“Flashtalking is a well-managed company with a clear vision, the ability to execute and strong growth momentum in the market,” he said. “We are excited about joining a great team and playing a critical role in delivering a comprehensive ad tech solution for serving, measuring and optimising media across platforms, devices, channels and creative."

Flashtalking has offices in the several US cities and across the UK, as well as Germany, Amsterdam and Sydney.

Buffer buys Respondly social tool

US-based social media scheduling service, Buffer, has acquired Respondly’s social media customer service and brand monitoring tool for an undisclosed sum in order to expand its solution set into community service and support management.

As a result of the deal, Respondly will be rebranded to Respond but remain a standalone tool for social media customer support, engagement, community and monitoring, with a full launch expected later in January. Buffer said this will complement its own marketing and publishing product for social channels.

“As more time passes and the more social media matures, tools will become more specialised and it will make less sense to combine such different functionality,” said Buffer in a blog post on its site announcing the December purchase. “We felt that if we were to enter the customer service and brand monitoring space, we would tackle it separately in order to build a world-class product for both the marketer and the customer service person.”

Respondly has received almost US$2 million in funding to date and its customer base includes Slack, WordPress.com and Stripe.

Zynga offers up premium programmatic advertising via Rubicon Project

Marketers will be able to access premium guaranteed and reserved inventory from Zynga on a programmatic basis for the first following a deal between the social game developer and ad tech player, Rubicon Project.

Zynga produces a raft of popular social games played by millions of consumers monthly including FarmVille, Zynga Casino and Words With Friends.

Previously, the company’s most premium guaranteed inventory was only available via manual sales channels. Using Rubicon’s marketplace, this will now be available to programmatic buyers globally.

The pair said the relationship includes ad units combined with creative content, including gamified and native ads with first-party data insights across the highest value placements such as first look, limited interruption and sponsorship positions. Rubicon Project’s Guaranteed Orders platform will streamline the purchase, execution and development of gaming experiences.

“Advertisers everywhere are seeking new and innovative ways to reach highly engaged mobile audiences at scale,” Rubicon’s head of mobile, Joe Prusz, said. “Today’s game-changing announcement for mobile marketers means that for the first time, buyers can access Zynga’s premium content with some of the best data and placements via automated guaranteed at scale.”

Blackdot and Sqware Peg partner on Salesforce.com implementation

Australian-based Salesforce integration specialist, Sqware Peg, has joined forces with Blackdot to better unite project management and operational methodologies with the Salesforce marketing, sales and service clouds.

The partnership will see Blackdot’s intellectual property and methodologies applied by Sqware Peg in the Salesforce.com environment. The pair said the combination of capabilities, tools, dashboards and workflows are all aimed at helping users more effectively integrate strategy and execution, mobilise business leaders, sales managers, and assist frontline salespeople and marketers.

“Our clients are increasingly looking for integrated solutions, hardwiring our operational know-how into Salesforce is an ideal way for clients to more deeply embed our strategic and operational frameworks,” Blackdot’s managing director, Marty Nicholas said. “We are closely aligned with Sqware Peg and are really excited about the value that we can mutually bring to our enterprise clients and the marketing, sales and service people who use Salesforce on a daily basis.”

Sqware Peg was founded in 2003 and has undertaken more than 2000 Salesforce projects for 800 customers across Asia-Pacific. Local customers include Optus, Lexus, Honda and Vodafone.

And one to watch:

Startup gets funding boost for generating sales leads from social media

Another small but burgeoning US-based ad tech player in the social activity space is hoping to help marketers and sales teams capitalise on the conversion opportunities in social. Three-year-old Seattle startup, Socedo, has secured US$1.5 million to help grow its platform, aimed at helping marketers generate sales leads from social media activity.

Socedo is a 2013 graduate of the Microsoft Windows Azure accelerator, and works with the likes of Microsoft and TalentWise to streamline and automate the process of finding and tackling social lead generation for B2B marketers. To do this, it combines real-time social media activity with profile data from Twitter, LinkedIn and those.

The company said the new funding will go towards staff hiring, marketing and product development.

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