CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 14 April

All the latest martech and ad news this week from Zendesk, Teradata, Shopify, Intercom, Twiggle, Livefyre, OpenText, Qualtrics, Localytics, 90 Seconds and Switch Media.

Zendesk seeks to improve the business Message

Customer service management vendor, Zendesk, has launched a dedicated software application designed to help businesses interface with and supply information to customers through interactive messaging.

Zendesk Message is integrated with Facebook’s Messenger Platform and combines automated interactions with live support conversations via Messenger. Similar to consumer messaging, the platform has a timeline view of conversations so support agents can reference events within a long thread and see the context of past responses and automated messages to that customer.

Zendesk said Message is now available to select customers and partners, with plans for a general release later this year.

Digital shopping platform, Spring, is using Zendesk to integrate human chat into a Messenger bot experience. Bots on Messenger are used to amplify the company’s shopping platform and provide more conversational commerce experience to customers.

“Messenger is more than just another support channel, it’s becoming the destination where customers can browse, buy and receive important information,” said Zendesk general manager of messaging, Royston Tay. “Today’s businesses must meet customers wherever they are and combine the personal touch of human interactions with the convenience of automated activities through bots.”

Shopify acquires virtual marketing assistant

Messaging was also the focus this week for SMB focused commerce platform provider, Shopify. The company has purchased Kit CRM, a virtual marketing assistant that leverages messaging to help businesses market their online stories.

In a statement, Shopify said the acquisition will bolster its efforts around growing demand for conversational commerce.

“We believe messaging apps are the gateway for the Internet on mobile, and conversational commerce represents a huge opportunity for Shopify,” claimed the vendor’s CMO, Craig Miller. “Kit addresses a real pain point for merchants and is one of our most highly rated apps in the Shopify App Store. We look forward to having the Kit team join Shopify and help us define the future of conversational commerce together.”

Founded in 2013, Kit’s virtual marketing assistant offering is designed to help manage small businesses’ marketing tasks, such as running targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram, posting updates to Facebook pages and making recommendations based on store activities, all via text messages. Last month, Kit introduced an API that allows it to interact with other apps in the Shopify App Store.

Shopify is used by more than 243,000 businesses across 150 countries including Tesla Motors, Budweiser, Red Bull, the LA Lakers and the New York Stock Exchange.

Teradata looks to shake-up customer sentiment scoring

Data management and marketing platform vendor, Teradata, is looking to shake-up the way enterprises understand customer behaviour with its new Customer Satisfaction Index Analytic Solution.

Pitched as an alternative to metrics like Net Promoter Score, the vendor claims results from recent industry engagements showed the CSI Analytic Solution can authentically track, integrate and analyse underlying behavioural experiences and outperform existing customer satisfaction measurement approaches.

It does this by identifying triggers and instances relating to negative, positive or neutral customer experiences. Analytics capabilities and data being applied to determine include a customer’s path to conversion, text-based sentiment analysis, influencer analysis, sensor and machine data analytics and machine learning

The CSI Analytic Solution will be delivered by Teradata consultants and is available immediately to run on the vendor’s Aster Analytics on Hadoop either on-premise or via the cloud.

“CMOs and line-of-business managers alike have an opportunity to empower and transform their organisations by introducing Teradata's radically new approach to customer analytics,” claimed its vice-president of business analytics and consulting, Randy Lea. “Teradata’s CSI Analytic Solution is integral to customer journey analytics and essential for companies looking to reduce churn and improve loyalty. This dynamic approach can be run daily, or more frequently, to get an accurate picture of customer satisfaction across all touchpoints.”

Intercom raises US$50 for customer communications

Customer communications vendor, Intercom, has added another US$50 million to its coffers to grow the reach of its platform.

The latest injection raises the vendor’s total funding to $116m. Over the past year, the company has doubled its overall headcount to 250 and grew its revenues four-fold, into the tens of millions. It now boasts of 10,000 paying customers across 90 countries including Rackspace and IBM.

Intercom was founded in 2011 in the US and offers one platform with a suite of integrated products aimed at addressing sales, marketing, product and support. Functionality includes marketing automation with email, in-app and push messaging, live chat, and customer feedback and support management. All of this is powered by live customer data tracking and filtering.

“We've been really fortunate at Intercom that our core focus on product continues to pay off," said its co-founder and CEO, Eoghan McCabe. “Unlike conventional software companies, the strength of our technology has generated incredible organic revenue growth, meaning we don't have to pump a ton of capital into sales and marketing.

“We can continue to focus on building product to help businesses communicate with their customers in a more personal way.”

New ecommerce search startup raises US$12.5m

Twiggle, an Israeli-based startup which hopes to change the way people perform ecommerce searches online, has raised US$12.5 million in a Series A founding round.

The round was led by Internet and media investor giant, Naspers, which has also invested in Tencent, SimilarWeb and Flipkart. Other investors included Yahoo Japan, State of Mind Ventures, and Sir Ronald Cohen. In total, the company has raised $14.7m.

Twiggle was co-founded in December 2013 by CEO, Dr. Amir Konigsberg, a former member of Google’s emerging markets operations and one-time managing director of MySupermarket.com, and Dr. Adi Avidor, a former engineering tech lead at Google.

According to a report in Geektime, Twiggle’s search technology works to bridge the human/machine understanding gap in digital commerce. The company collects and analyses data about products from sites such as Amazon, then turns that data into information that can be used by consumers when they need it. It then incorporates natural language processes systems to better understand more colloquial terminology used by consumers when searching for products online, such as ‘thin’, ‘quiet’or ‘light’.

The funding will be used to grow engineering capabilities in deep learning, machine learning, and natural language processing, as well as expand operations and the product. The company also plans to branch out into new speech-to-text systems and conversational commerce systems.

Livefyre partners with OpenText

Social content management platform, Livefyre, has struck up a relationship with OpenText to integrate its offering into the enterprise information management vendor’s stack.

The company said integration with OpenText’s WEM/Experience Suite is aimed at providing organisations with instant access to real-time, user-generated content that can be deployed in minutes through owned and operated digital properties. Marketers will also gain tools to deploy applications such as reviews, comments and chat through their digital properties.

Other features include the ability to drag and drop social applications to collect and feature user-generated content directly on product Web pages, and social discovery, moderation, asset management and content creation within one platform.

“OpenText’s leading Web Experience Management platform and Livefyre’s best-in-class social applications make it simple for brands to discover fresh, relevant, third-party content to deploy immersive digital experiences that propel consumer engagement and guide purchasing decisions,” said Livefyre CEO and founder, Jordan Kretchmer.

“With the recent release of OpenText Web Experience Suite 16, and the integration of Livefyre’s social content and engagement applications, customers are able to easily aggregate real-time user-generated content into a web page and publish it seamlessly across multiple-channels,” added OpenText global CMO, Adam Howatson.

Qualtrics and iModerate partner up

Marketing insights platform vendor, Qualtrics, has teamed up with insights agency, iModerate, to improve how clients glean insights from customer feedback.

The new alliance will see clients of both companies able to tap into iModerate’s one-on-one conversations to augment feedback obtained through the Qualtrics technology and insight platform. iModerate applies cognitive techniques and research methods to customer conversations, and said it has conducted more than 200,000 conversations over its 12-year history.

These capabilities include capturing authentic customer language, understanding context and meaning, using verbatims and anecdotes to better represent audiences, refining marketing messages based on emotions and perceptions of customers, and better customer trend tracking.

“The partnership between Qualtrics and iModerate will combine important elements in insight gathering,” said Shane Evans, head of partnerships at Qualtrics. “Qualtrics has always allowed clients to gather robust and diverse feedback. This partnership will now allow our mutual clients to benefit from the synergies of an online insight platform and in-depth, customer conversations.”

Localytics joins forces with Salesforce

Mobile engagement platform vendor, Localytics, is strengthening its ties with Salesforce and has integrated its platform into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

According to the company, the partnership enables companies to strengthen their marketing automation strategies by sharing customer data for deeper targeting and for developing cross-channel journeys that reach mobile users at all stages of their lifecycle.

Localytics’ mobile user data is being synced with Salesforce Marketing Cloud contact data, enabling customers to use the mobile data for better targeting of email campaigns. In turn, Salesforce marketing contact data is shared with Localytics' user profiles, which can be combined with Localytics' mobile analytics and marketing channels like push and in-app messaging, for creating personalised mobile engagement campaigns.

Cloud-based video production company secures $7.5m in funding

Cloud-based video production marketplace, 90 Seconds, has raised $7.5 million in a financing round led by Sequoia India.

Alongside the Indian VC, which has also invested in Apple, Google, YouTube and Airbnb, investors in the Series A round included Sky TV New Zealand, Airtree Ventures and Fotolia.com (now owned by Adobe). The money will be used to accelerate 90 Seconds’ global expansion.

The company aims to give brands and agencies access to a marketplace of creatives, and an automated, end-to-end suite of workflow tools around video production. The marketplace now has more than 5000 video creative professionals in 70 countries across 40 categories including videographers, directors, editors, producers, animators, drone operators and photographers.

Brands using the platform include Visa, PayPal, Sony, Samsung, Barclays and Microsoft.

“Video content is a must have in today’s world and we are proud to have developed a solution that works for brands around the globe to deliver fast, affordable content,” founder and CEO of 90 Seconds, Tim Norton, said.

SBS brings on new anti-ad blocking technology

Australian broadcaster, the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), has become one of the first customers for Switch Media’s new anti-ad blocking offering.

Switch Media’s AdEase is being showcased at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference in the US later this month and enables SBS to invalidate the increasing number of ad blocking apps. So far, it’s been integrated into SBS’s recently launched On Demand AppleTV v4 app, and within a couple of months will be rolled out to the SBS On Demand iOS and Android apps and website. This will be followed by integration with apps for smart TVs, Chromecast and game consoles.

According to the AdEase, the server-side ad insertion tool side-steps ad blocking technologies while integrating ads into program content across any digital device. AdEase does not require full ingestion of a broadcaster’s video library but integrates with pre-existing video management systems. Other capabilities include dynamic server-side ad insertion for video on-demand and live video content, audience targeting, and zero buffering.

“As well as removing the annoying buffering, the seamless stitching of ads makes the transition invisible to ad blockers,” SBS director of TV and online content, Marshall Heald, said in a statement. “It's a huge leap forward across all our apps and devices and positively impacts our advertising bottom line allowing us to invest more into distinctive content for Australian audiences, which is a key priority for SBS.”

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