CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 18 February

This week's round-up of ad technology and marketing technology news includes 10 marketing and ad technology news stories this week features Holoco, SAP, Salesfusion, Mobify, IBM, Brightcove, Lytics, Zoomdata, MindMaze and Akamai

Holographic vendor brings 3D display wares to Australia

German-based holographic advertising startup, Holoco, has opened its doors in Australia, offering a new point-of-sale, showroom and ad tech display technology.

The company claims to be behind the first multifunctional 3D holographic advertising display catered specifically for the retail environment. The technology employs 3D animation and visuals to present products to consumers in a more dynamic way, and features a special glass in order to serve the animations as a holographic display. It’s being used both in POS displays with additional shelving, as well as to build standalone exhibits.

Brands already using the technology include Gillette, Philips, Absolut Vodka and Sisley Paris. Holoco also claims to have produced the largest ever custom-built holographic display for an activity for Porsche, which featured a life-sized exhibit at the IAA Frankfurt Auto Show as well as Frankfurt’s international airport.

“Holograms aren’t new, but Holoco’s niche POS specific multifunctional technology offers a retail focused solution for marketers looking to capture the eye of customers,” said Ronnie Navani, Holoco’s managing director for Australia. Navani is the former senior manager of experiential of Val Morgan Outdoor as well as current MD of The Media Shop.

“Our systems are all about the wow factor, combining customer’s fascination for real-life products with a 3D holographic experience, creating a stunning visual animation around your product.”

Lytics identifies content marketing affinity

Customer data platform vendor, Lytics, has launched its first Content Affinity Engine, designed to help marketers get a better grip on their content marketing efforts by prioritising content marketing resources to focus on in-demand content, as well as automating distribution of high-performing content to specific customer segments.

The Web-based product uses machine learning to identify which content, such as blog posts of videos, is performing well, its core attributes, and then which customers the content should appeal to. The tool integrates with a host of marketing tools and distribution platforms, including automation and campaign management engines, and sits on top of the vendor’s core Customer Data Platform offering.

On top of this, Lytics has launched a Journey Reporting dashboard, aimed at visualising how customers move through the buyer journey. While users were previously able to integrate all customer data and explore segments into marketing tools, the new functionality provides a new way to monitor how customer bases move through the marketing funnel and how they’re behaving.

In a statement, Lytics beta customer and boutique publisher, Access Intelligence, said it had used the new offerings to personalise marketing programs for advertisers across its media properties.

“We like how Lytics’ new Journey Reporting product helps us visualise how customers move through the marketing journey, and we see the potential in both analysing how our content is performing and creating new customer segments around content affinity,” said VP of digital services at Access Intelligence, James Capo.

Swiss VR firm secures more than US$100m in funding

Investment into virtual reality technology shows no signs of slowing, with Swiss-based startup, MindMaze, the latest to gain a cash injection to expand its innovative VR offerings.

MindMaze is a spin-off from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and initially developed medical-grade VR products to stimulate neural recovery. It also delivers VR and augmented reality for motion capture game system in MindLeap. It’s now expanding into new fields such as robotics to transportation and media, and is yet another illustration of the wide-sweeping applications now being thought up for VR.

This week, the startup raised US$108.5 million in two funding rounds led by Hinduja Group.

Mobify looks to accelerate mobile customer engagement

Mobile ecommerce platform vendor, Mobify, is looking to advance its technology capabilities and drive further adoption of its mobile customer engagement platform after raising US$10m in a financing round.

The latest fundraising was led by Munich-based Acton Capital Partners, which has also invested in Etsy, Cyberport and AbeBooks, and sees the company’s venture partner, Hannes Blum, along with Mark Organ, founder and CEO of Influitive, joining Mobify’s board of directors.

“Mobify is redefining mobile customer engagement with the industry’s first, mobile-first customer engagement platform fully integrating all of the technologies retailers need to leverage how mobile phones are used today,” said Blum.

Mobify’s technology aims to help retailers manage all of an organisation’s real-time interactions with mobile customers and incorporates mobile, Web and native applications, push messaging, and most recently, location-based marketing. It uses on-page tag technology and is cloud-based. The vendor’s 150 customers worldwide include Crocs, Carnival Cruise Lines, Eddie Bauer and Superdry.

“With the new financing, Mobify can bring its expertise to new markets where mobile customer engagement can make shopping better and more personal,” Mobify CEO, Igor Faletski, said.

Data visualisation startup

The market for smart analysis is blooming and data visualisation startup, Zoomdata, is capitalising on it.

The company secured US$25 million in investment from Goldman Sachs last week to build out its business in a series C fundraising round. The investment group joins a pool of investors that includes Comcast Ventures, Accel and Columbus Nova Technology Partners, and brings Zoomdata’s total funding to just shy of $50 million in three years.

Zoomdata’s visual analytics solution aims to help organisations better consume their data, and competes with a number of other products such as Tableau, Qliktech and Looker. It brings together disparate data sources, including modern and legacy, and blends them into a single unified database which can run on-premises, in the cloud, or embedded within an application.

The vendor serves the enterprise and has customers such as Cisco, Deloitte and Markerstudy. Zoomdata is also covering its bases in terms of industry partnerships, with its cloud product running on Amazon, CenturyLink, Cisco, DataBricks, Google and Microsoft Azure cloud platforms.

Salesfusion aims to bring next-gen marketing automation to SMBs

Marketing automation vendor, Salesfusion, has taken the wrappers off the next generation of its software-as-a-service platform through a combination of intuitive and customisable features.

The vendor said it had spent the past 12 months working with customers and industry leaders to change its approach and has now introduced a number of enhancements. These include task-driven navigation to help align marketing best practices for creating, managing and analysing campaigns, a new email campaign nurture flow designer capability, and the extension of drag-and-drop capabilities in its new landing page designer tool.

The Salesfusion platform also now include built-in marketing best practice guides, expanded tools for A/B testing on emails and landing pages, an improved user interface and data visualisation dashboard, and notifications relating to actions within the system. All of the features are being launched on a rolling basis.

“Complexity, ease of use and high cost have been typical hurdles preventing SMBs from adopting marketing automation,” commented Salesfusion’s CEO, Carol O’Kelley. “By driving innovation and investments in our product such as leveraging Google's Material Design principles, we are removing these barriers to deliver an intuitive and affordable solution that aligns technology workflows with actual marketing business processes. Salesfusion will continue to deliver enhancements so marketers from any size company and with any level of experience are successful with a solution.”

Brightcove adds call-to-action into video

Video cloud services company, Brightcove, has released new functionality within its Brightcove gallery allowing marketers and media companies to publish call-to-action and display ads on video pages built on its platform.

Call-to-actions can include lead forms, custom buttons, banners, display ads, custom HTML, related links, or images. The vendor said marketers can also trigger marketing actions using on-page elements, capturing new contacts, and driving engagement that yields new insight and marketing results. These can also be connected to marketing platforms such as Oracle Eloqua, Marketo or Salesforce in order to track each element of a video marketing campaign, from players to landing pages and video portals.

In addition, media companies can now create ad inventory by incorporating on-page display ads with their video content. These can be linked to existing ad servers, such as DoubleClick, allowing media companies to use existing display ad tags to deliver specific creative to their target audiences.

SAP’s predictive analytics bet

SAP is looking to expand out the predictive and mobile business intelligence capabilities of its SAP HANA platform in order to become the one-stop shop for analytics.

The latest enhancements follow the acquisition of mobile analytics and data visualisation player, Roambi, which SAP said will help it to bring mobile access to analytics to everyone. In addition, the vendor has unveiled new predictive capabilities to analysts, developers and partners as part of its forthcoming SAP Predictive Analytics software offering.

“The old analytics strategy-to-execution loop is not real time, agile or democratic enough to adjust to digital realities,” said president of SAP’s digital enterprise platform, Steve Lucas. “SAP, a global leader in analytics, has completely changed the game and is now delivering a broad set of consumer-grade analytics solutions at enterprise scale across every industry and line of business. SAP aims to deliver all-in-one analytics for everyone, available in the cloud and on premise, designed to be ubiquitous and real time — something niche players in the analytics space cannot offer.”

The planned innovations comes off the back of recently announced offerings including the SAP Cloud for Analytics solution for unified analytics, and SAP Digital Boardroom for live monitoring.

Akamai aims fire at Web bots

Content delivery network player, Akamai, is looking to help organisations tackle the issue of corrupt Web traffic with its new bot management technology.

Akamai Bot Manager is designed to help users better identify and understand what types of bot traffic are hitting their sites, as well as provide remediation capabilities. Features include a pre-defined directory of more than 1300 bot signatures, customisable bot signatures and categories, real-time detection of unknown bots including automatic identification of clients engaged in Web scraping behaviour, and flexibility policy management.

The platform also offers Bot Activity as well Bot Analysis reports, and is supported by security optimisation assistance services from Akamai.

“The Web is full of bots and until now, companies had two choices, block them or suffer in silence. Unfortunately, neither choice was ideal,” explained Stu Scholly, senior vice-president and general manager, Cloud Security Solutions, Akamai. “We’re giving our customers the power and flexibility to put a true bot management strategy in place intended to best fit their business goals and objectives.”

IBM courts developers for Watson

IBM has been encouraging developers to build apps using its Watson artificial intelligence system, which it hopes will be a big moneymaker for the company in the future. This week, Big Blue took it a step further, pledging US$5 million in prizes for whoever makes the biggest breakthroughs using Watson by 2020.

“We’re inviting teams from around the world to develop and demonstrate how humans can collaborate with powerful cognitive A.I. technologies capable of solving some of the world's grand challenges,” the company said.

And by grand challenges, it’s thinking big – the vendors lists past achievements like the moon landing, mapping the human genome, and addressing climate change. The contest was launched at the Vancouver TED conference by Peter Diamandis, founder of XPrize, which is partnering with IBM on the project.

The winners will be announced at TED 2020 (assuming the event is still around then). Three winning teams will split $4.5 million of the prize money, an IBM spokeswoman said, meaning they could each pick up $1.5 million. The other $500,000 will help fund projects along the way. IBM is the one putting up all the cash.

Each year between now and 2020, teams will do battle at IBM’s World of Watson conference, with the winners advancing to the next year. They’ll be evaluated by “a panel of expert judges for technical validity and the audacity of their mission”.

Watson began life as a giant server system that won the Jeopardy contest on TV back in 2011. It’s now a distributed system that lives in the cloud, its various AI technologies, such as image recognition and language processing, offered as services via programming interfaces.

Several companies have created apps that use the Watson APIs, but the contest could give IBM a chance to rival some of the futuristic projects coming out of Google’s X lab, now part of Alphabet, which is also trying to solve the world’s big challenges.

  • With additional reporting by Ben Kepes and James Niccolai.

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