Computers and artificial intelligence have come along at an exponential rate over the past few decades, from being regarded as oversized adding machines to the point where they have played integral roles in some legitimately creative endeavours.
Salesforce buys MetaMind to avoid being ‘outflanked’
Salesforce’s automation efforts got a big boost this week with news that it has acquired AI startup, MetaMind.
The purchase will see Salesforce integrate MetaMind’s technology into its own services for new marketing-automation and personalisation capabilities, according to MetaMind founder, Richard Socher.
“We'll extend Salesforce’s data science capabilities by embedding deep learning within the Salesforce platform,” he wrote in a blog post. The deal also sees Socher become chief scientist at Salesforce.
MetaMind's products will be discontinued on 4 May for users of its free versions, and on 4 June for paid users. The company plans to continue its AI research, however, and will still pursue candidates for its open positions
Salesforce confirmed the deal but declined to provide further details.
MetaMind’s technology is based on deep-learning research done by Socher at Stanford, where he earned his PhD in 2014. The company launched that same year with US$8 million in funding from Salesforce chairman, Marc Benioff, as well as Khosla Ventures.
Rocket Fuel and Eyeota partner on data
Ad tech players, Rocket Fuel and Eyeota, have inked a new global partnership that sees Eyeota’s local audience data segments available in Rocket Fuel’s programmatic marketing platform.
The new capabilities will allow advertisers to target specific audiences for online advertising through Rocket Fuel’s SaaS-based data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform (DSP). The vendor’s platform uses artificial intelligence to undertake real-time calculations of each ad opportunity based on goals established by the marketer around consumer engagement.
Eyeota claims to have 1.8 billion unique profiles globally.
“More and more marketers are focusing on programmatic marketing for their brand campaigns. Enhancing our moment scoring by the addition of further qualified data enables Rocket Fuel to better meet our clients’ needs, which is why Eyeota is intrinsically linked to our strategy,” said Rocket Fuel MD for A/NZ, JJ Eastwood.
Sprinklr acquires Postano
Social media management vendor, Sprinklr, has completed its acquisition of Postano, a social visualisation platform.
Postano brings together social content with offline, voice of the customer information and present it through digital displays. The acquisition is Sprinklr’s ninth in the past two years and adds another key component to the social platform. Under the deal, Postano’s Portland, US office will become Spinklr’s 12th global location.
“Postano’s incredible visual technology and creativity will take Sprinklr’s visualisation capabilities to a whole new level, letting businesses see the voice of their customer and giving brands a unified way to engage with them online and offline,” said founder and CEO of Spinklr, Ragy Thomas.
Postano’s technology was originally designed to capture the excitement fans felt when they saw social content from their mobile device on the stadium screen, explained Postano president, Justin Garrity. Clients include Michael Kors, Time and L.A. Kings. The companies said McDonald's is also already working with both brands to leverage visualisation of social data.
“Our customers have always wanted our visualisation technology to integrate and be part of a complete customer engagement platform, and today, I’m proud to say they can have exactly that,” Garrity said.
Sizmek unveils new ad management platform
Digital ad management provider, Sizmek, has taken the wrappers off its new unified platform, MDX-NXT, which it says will allow users to create, build and serve ads across all digital formats.
According to the vendor, the cloud-based platform has been rebuilt for large-scale media campaigns for increased volume of audience data and digital ad placements and more control over creative, trafficking and activation of data. The next generation Open Ad Management platform will enable agencies and brands to get better media investment returns on their digital spend across mobile, video, display and programmatic, Sizmek said.
According to a report in AdExchanger, MDX-NXT features capabilities Sizmek has either built or inherited through acquisition, including ad server technology from MediaMind, creative tools, a data management platform, attribution and search engine marketing. These have been re-built and integrated, along with DSP capabilities picked up from StrikeAd, and programmatic data tools from Peer39.
The platform also features new visual workflows designed to help marketers build and execute holistic strategies.
Sailthru snaps up mobile marketing automation player
Email and Web communications management vendor, Sailthru, has acquired Carnival.io’s mobile marketing automation platform in a bid to shore up its customer-led, omni-channel personalisation offering.
Carnival’s offering encompasses push notifications, in-app messaging and a customisable message centre for automating messages based on customer behaviour, location and demographic data. Its customers include Coca-Cola, Random House and Air New Zealand. The US-based company had previously raised US$2.4m in venture funding.
Sailthru claimed the integration of this technology with what it has labelled its ‘customer retention cloud’ will give marketers a cross-channel personalisation, automation and analytics offering based on a single customer profile. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Sailthru claims to manage more than 1.7 billion worldwide customer profiles and is focused on the retail and media markets.
“Until this point, moving beyond siloed data sets and simple triggered mobile messages has not been easy. Marketers simply have not had the technology needed to deliver a truly relevant, cross-channel experience,” said Sailthru CEO, Neil Lustig. “Sailthru’s mission is to help marketers build deeper, longer-lasting relationships with their customers. We believe that human connections matter more than ever before, and in Carnival, we’ve found a complementary company that delivers on this vision.”
Cognitive content generation platform secures US$30m
Persado, a cognitive content generation platform which fuses language with data in order to generate smart content for marketing purposes, has secured US$30m in fresh investment to act on its global aspirations.
The Series C founding round included a number of high-profile investors including Bain Capital Ventures, StarVest Partners, American Express Ventures and Citi Ventures.
Persado claims to be one of the few vendors to have productised and commercialised cognitive computing technologies to date. The platform employs natural language process and machine learning algorithms to generate the right combination of words, phrases and images to communicate with targeted audiences in real time. This communications are push through via display ads, Facebook, email website landing pages, SMS and mobile push notifications.
The latest founding round will be used to further distribution and product development as well as accelerate the vendor’s expansion into more digital channels and sectors outside marketing. The company is also looking to grow its global headcount with new sales and customer support staff as well as data scientists and engineers.
Persado is already being used by 80 global brands including Microsoft, Citi and Sears in marketing campaigns, and has accumulated response data from more than 40 billion impressions to date.
Telerik CMS and digital platform gets an update
The latest version of Progress Software’s Telerik Sitefinity CMS and Digital Experience Cloud has been released to market.
New features in the Telerik Sitefinity 9.0 platform include multi-lingual asset support to ensure appropriate content is delivered to global audiences alongside localised digital assets, plus flexible audience segmentation through the ability to leverage behavioural and demographic data from Telerik Sitefinity DEC.
The vendor also said the platform centralises and visualises all customer interactions including website page visits to defined marketing program conversion points, and offers multipage forms support.
On the development front, the updated platform offers integrated mobile app development capability, new APIs and simplified widget creation.
Mintigo raises US$15m for predictive platform
US$15m in capital investment is coming to predictive marketing analytics vendor, Mintigo, after venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital, led a new fundraising round aimed at accelerating the company’s growth.
Mintigo’s cloud-based platform is aimed at enabling B2B marketing and sales teams to use data and predictive analytics to improve their strike rate. The vendor said its primary focus is on giving users quick access to the data that actually matters, such as key details about a company’s top customers.
The software is already being used by enterprise players such as Oracle, Gerry Images, Equinix and SolarWinds. The vendor claims to have the deepest data pool in the B2B space, covering 200 million individuals and 15 million companies.
“We are fortunate to have great investors like Sequoia who recognise the strategic value Mintigo brings to marketing and sales,” said Mintigo’s CEO and co-founder, Jacob Shama. “Mintigo is growing fast because we have an innovative product with a large and valuable pool of data for B2B marketing and sales. We put all our attention into making our customers successful.”
Facebook ramps up video features
Facebook has unveiled new features for Facebook Live to make it easier for mobile users to create, find and share live videos.
In an assault on rival YouTube and to increase its younger user base, the social network is giving its users new features to stream their live videos to a Facebook Group and schedule a live Q&A session via Events. Those users also can comment on these videos.
“We hope this new ability to both broadcast and watch live video within Groups and Events enables people to connect more deeply with their closest friends, family and the communities of people who share their interests,” the company wrote in a blog post . The new Facebook Live features will roll out on iOS and Android devices over coming weeks.
The new features include the ability for viewers to add reactions to live videos. The same reactions -- Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry – that Facebook added to its "Like" button earlier this year will be available for viewers to comment about the videos. Users can invite friends to watch their live videos by tapping on an invite icon and then selecting the friends who they want to see their video.
Live videos will have a dedicated place on Facebook's mobile app, giving users a quick insight into videos that users around the world are talking about, live videos from friends and videos on topics users are interested in. For desktop users, there will be a Facebook Live Map to show users what videos are being shared in 60 countries.
IBM buys Salesforce integrator
IBM has made a bid for Bluewolf, a consulting practice that specialises in helping companies integrate Salesforce’s CRM services into their IT systems. IBM values the market for this and other Salesforce-related professional services around at US$111 billion annually.
Bluewolf has been working with Salesforce.com since 2001. It has about 500 staff, with offices in 13 cities including Australia. IBM plans to put Bluewolf’s staff to work in its Interactive Experience (iX) practice, applying their cloud expertise to its analytics and experience design consulting business.
The iX practice is a small but fast-growing part of IBM's Global Business Services division, accounting for around 10,000 of the division’s almost 400,000 staff globally.
The Bluewolf purchase is the fourth this year aimed at bulking up the iX team. In January, it bought its first ad agency, Resource/Ammirati, a US company that claims Apple as its first client, in 1981. February saw the purchase of Berlin-based Aperto, a digital marketing and advertising agency with 300 staff. And in March, it completed another German acquisition, that of ecx.io, a 200-person full-service digital marketing agency.
IBM didn't say how much it will pay for Bluewolf, but hopes to close the acquisition by the end of June.
- With additional reporting from Katherine Noyes and Peter Sayer.