CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 21 January

All the latest marketing and ad tech stories for this week

Adobe makes retail improvements to Marketing Cloud

Adobe has upped its marketing capabilities for retailers with several product enhancements within its Marketing Cloud.

On the list of new features is data-driven remarketing, allowing retailers to connect consumer behavioural data online with contextual data and use it for user-defined remarketing triggers, such as email, push notifications or SMS. As an example, the vendor said a consumer that views a pair of women’s boots for several minutes or watches a video could be targeted with an email highlighting that product and incentivising the customer with a discount.

The Marketing Cloud also includes personalised push notifications, which are now supported with analytics reporting through integration of Adobe Mobile Core Service and Adobe Analytics. This is aimed at helping retailers create audience segments and engage using more relevant data insights, such as shopper behaviour and user preferences.

Adobe has also improved its shoppable media experiences, a video platform launched last year that sits within Experience Manager and allows consumers to link directly from video content to product information tab and purchase that item. The vendor said it has simplified the process around testing and targeting interactive content in real-time to drive conversions across mobile, social, and in-store. Consumers will be presented with a relevant, dynamic experience in real-time based on data such as their location and purchase history.

Finally, Adobe Experience Manager Screens capabilities have also been extended to shoppable media, enabling retailers to reach consumers at home, on-the-go or in-store. This means banners people become accustomed to seeing online at home or on their mobile devices can also be displayed in-store on large screens and shoppers can interact and make purchases with this content.

Software AG brings in smart store monitoring

Also chasing the omni-channel retail market is enterprise data platform vendor, Software AG, which introduced smart store monitoring within its Digital Business Platform this week.

The new functionality is designed to help retailers monitor, access and analyse streaming data for their bricks-and-mortar stores, such as that from in-store sensors and apps. Retailers can then apply real-time and predictive analytics capabilities to generate insights that could help with everything from in-store layout to staff management and promotions improvements.

Software AG’s Digital Business platform integrates several technologies to make this happen, including connectivity to all IoT-enabled data sources including in-store sensors and feeds, predictive models, in-store inventory management, point of service, external data and other feeds. It also features in-memory data management and real-time analytics tools to make information accessible and actionable, while connectivity and process management tools track in-store processes, allowing retailers to automate where appropriate.

“With Smart Store Monitoring, retailers now have the critical data capabilities they need to track and act on all of the sensors and data feeds in a store – from point of sale data to shelf sensors - rendering IoT a retail reality,” said Software AG retail industry director, Oliver Guy.

Salesforce customer journeys

Salesforce is another vendor that’s been busy offering up more capabilities for retailers through its Marketing Cloud, announcing new services that allow retailers to manage one-to-one customer journeys.

These include extension of the Salesforce Strategic Framework for retailer customer journeys, aimed at helping retailers map out customer journeys and execute digital engagement program. These are based around its journey and audience builder tools, and allow users to personalise based on behavioural profiles, execute email, mobile, social and Web marketing alongside digital advertising, provides a centralised content location, and delivers analytics.

The vendor is also offering new professional services specifically for retailers from its team.

MediaMath launches Helix

Ad and media management vendor, MediaMath, has launched a business unit called Helix, offering more advanced data solutions to its customers. The new division is tasked with taking the large data sets from the vendor’s partners and clients in the retail realm, and packaging these as predictive audiences and actionable insights that can be used for programmatic advertising.

Helix is built on the foundation of the Adroit Shopper Co-op, which MediaMath acquires in 2013 and which it claims is the largest online shopper data asset in the industry. Helix will bring this together with other assets from MediaMath and its partners to build a range of anonymous customer profiles for marketers to utilise.

Helix has been working with several brands and agencies over the past six months in a beta trial including Pep Boys and iProspect.

A spokesperson for Australia confirmed Helix is only initially available to customers in North America, but will eventually make its way to Asia-Pacific.

Adestra raises US$7.2m to expand marketing tech presence

UK-based email marketing player, Adestra, has secured US$7.2 million in its latest fundraising round, money it says will go towards expanding its US operations and service support infrastructure.

The investment injection sees equity fund, Business Growth Fund, gain a minority stake in the 11-year old business and board seat, and represents the first time institution investment has flowed into the Adestra business.

According to Adestra, 500 clients worldwide use its MessageFocus digital marketing platform, including UBM, Oxfam and Conde Nast. It also claims to have experienced annual double-digit revenue growth for most of its operational history.

"This is a very exciting time for our business," said co-founder and CEO of Adestra, Henry Hyder-Smith. "Email is experiencing a fantastic and well-founded resurgence as the cornerstone of a brand's digital communications strategy. As a result, we've seen an enormous amount of high-profile acquisitions and consolidations in our industry, but those moves have also created a real void in the market - one that Adestra is poised to fill."

StructuredWeb marketing platform gets a facelift

SaaS-based marketing technology vendor, StructuredWeb, has added a host of new features to its channel marketing and management platform to kick off 2016, aimed at improving usability and content management control.

New functionality includes translation Integration with SDL WorldServer, so content uploaded on the StructuredWeb platform can be translated to more than 80 languages using automated machine learning systems synced with professional translation services.

Users can also now start dates and end dates for assets by tactic type, as well as access a new asset sharing feature to share assets and campaigns via unique links. With the featured campaigns tool, B2B marketers gain the ability to highlight campaigns to partners that are new or important, and make these readily available to partners for execution.

StructuredWeb has also launched a fully customisable portal with brand colour schemes and custom images, and improved the look and feel of its partner demand centre.

IBM rumoured to be buying Ustream

Reports have begun emerged of IBM’s potential acquisition of live video platform provider, Ustream.

According to a report in Fortune, the acquisition is expected to be worth US$130 million and comes off the back of a relationship that’s been in place between the two vendors for nearly two years. Fortune also noted Ustream was the only video services included in the launch of IBM’s cloud marketplace.

The report suggests Ustream’s technology could be used to incorporate video streaming capabilities into IBM’s Bluemix open cloud-based development platform, and would make it easier for developers to build live video streaming features within the IBM environment. Ustream is a competitor to Amazon’s Twitch service.

According to Crunchbase, Ustream has chalked up more than US$60m in total equity funding since its launch in 2007.

Read more: Faced with tech changes, retailers eye the need for innovation

Narrative Science visualises stories in the data

Charts and graphs may be some of the most commonly used tools for bringing data sets to life, but Narrative Science wants you to consider another one: Stories.

The company already helps enterprises put data-driven stories to work through its flagship Quill natural language generation platform, and this week debuted a new extension designed specifically for users of visual analytics tools from business intelligence software vendor, Qlik.

Companies that use Qlik Sense data visualisation software can now download the free Narratives for Qlik extension and automatically create stories that explain what's most interesting and important about their graphs and charts.

Narratives for Qlik automatically identifies what is most relevant in a chart or graph and generates an accompanying narrative. It also dynamically responds as the user refines the analysis, Narrative Science said. Insights are described in natural language, with personalisation available to reflect the desired level of story detail, composition, format and language style.

"We've been talking in the business intelligence world for many years now about making your data tell a story," said Seth Grimes, an analyst with IT consultancy Alta Plana. "This does that. It turns your data into a story in words. What we're talking about here is really a new twist on reporting. Instead of a bar chart or pie chart, the software will generate in words what you'd see in the picture.”

Call analytics solutions goes live

US-based provider of speech APIs, VoiceBase, has launched Insights, a new call analytics solution.

The offering is built off the back of VoiceBase’s transcription engine, and uses machine learning and predictive analytics technology to make sense of human voice interactions for business processes automation. Voicebase said it is using pre-tagged calls to train its proprietary machine learning algorithms and build the customised predictive models capable of detecting complex events.

By leveraging big data techniques within the voice channel, VoiceBase said it can surface a deeper understanding of what is said, such as the clients intent or an agent’s behaviour. The platform will automatically score every sales call as a hot lead, first-time caller and non-prospect, and can also be used to detect potential churn and rude agent in support calls.

Personalisation engage debuts on Microsoft Dynamics AX platform

Also hoping to capitalise on rising demand for predictive analytics is Infinite Analytics, which has released its retail personalisation engine on the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform

The engine has been providing insights into customers with an immediate impact on conversions, using a predictive analytics and machine learning-based platform. The US-based vendor said its focus is on not just user data for personalisation, but also for enriching and enhancing retail product catalogues using proprietary algorithms.

Infinity Analytics claims some customers have seen conversions leap by up to 217 per cent, with others seeing close to 25 per cent of online revenues driven by its products.

“Infinite Analytics is the only company to have successfully bridged the online and offline worlds when it comes to personalisation using analytics,” claimed co-founder and CEO, Akash Bhatia.“Microsoft Dynamics was a natural platform for us to integrate and provide personalisation to retailers in the Microsoft Ecosystem.”

Beacon technology provide secures US$10.7m cash injection

Beacon technology vendor, Estimote, has confirmed a US$10.7 million series A investment round into the business, money that will be used to expand its product offering as well as operations both in the US and Europe.

The fundraising round was led by Javelin Ventures and also included Digital Garage, Homebrew, Box Group, Commerce Ventures and founder and CEO of TellApart, Josh McFarland. As part of the deal, two representatives from Javelin join Estimote’s board.

Last year, the vendor announced a raft of new features, including infrastructure sharing for opening private beacon networks to third-party app developers, real-time analytics for key project metrics measurement, remote fleet management, indoor location tracking to within 1.5m of the user, and updated Android capabilities.

Estimote’s beacon technology is already being used by retailers, event venues and airports globally include FC Barcelona sporting club, Guggenheim Museum in New York, Hamad International Airport and Target in the US.

  • With additional reporting from IDG News Service’s Katherine Hoyes.

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