CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 6 October

All the latest martech, adtech and product news from Salesforce, Krux, Microsoft, Criteo, Pegasystems, Nugit, TapFwd, Google, Marketo, Contently and Oracle.

Salesforce buys DMP vendor

Salesforce will acquire data management platform (DMP) provider, Krux, in a deal expected to be worth US$700 million.

Salesforce is picking up the six-year-old San Francisco-based startup to bolster its data and analytics capabilities in the advertising sphere. Krux’s DMP offering allows users to unify, segment and activate audiences for marketing and advertising. It will also feed Salesforce Einstein, the vendor’s new artificial intelligence proposition with billions of new signals for better marketing and advertising targeting.

According to a regulatory filing by Salesforce, the two companies entered into an agreement on 3 October for Krux become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the cloud giant. Salesforce will pay US$340 million in cash as well as issue common stock, bringing the total price tag to roughly $700 million.

Krux CEO and co-founder, Tom Chavez, issued a statement confirming the agreement and emphasising the strength of the companies working together. The companies were already partners.

“Beyond the strategic and technology fit, we believe our companies’ core values, which include innovation, trust, transparency, and most importantly customer success, are in perfect alignment and offer an exciting foundation upon which we can continue building the industry’s smartest Marketing Cloud.”

Read our full report and what the industry thinks of the news here.

Salesforce tries to block Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition

In other Salesforce news, the vendor is trying to convince the European Union to block Microsoft’s headline-grabbing US$26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, the largest purchase in its history.

Salesforce chief legal officer, Burke Norton, will argue to the EU's competition authority that Microsoft's control of LinkedIn's dataset following an acquisition would be anticompetitive.

“Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of LinkedIn threatens the future of innovation and competition,” Norton said in a statement. “By gaining ownership of LinkedIn’s unique dataset of over 450 million professionals in more than 200 countries, Microsoft will be able to deny competitors access to that data, and in doing so obtain an unfair competitive advantage.”

EU competition chief, Margarethe Vestager, said in January that her agency would be looking directly at whether a company’s use of data is bad for competition, and these complaints seem aimed squarely at those comments.

Microsoft and Salesforce were in a bidding war for LinkedIn earlier this year, but Microsoft won out. Since then, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, has taken several shots at Microsoft over the deal.

Microsoft president, Brad Smith, didn't mince words when he fired back at Salesforce, citing the company's dominance in the CRM market.

“The deal has already been cleared to close in the United States, Canada, and Brazil,” he said. “We’re committed to continue working to bring price competition to a CRM market in which Salesforce is the dominant participant charging customers higher prices today.”

Criteo picks up HookLogic

Performance marketing vendor, Criteo, is outlaying US$250m in cash to acquire advertising exchange player, HookLogic.

HookLogic operates a performance marketing exchange that connects retail ecommerce sites with consumer brand manufacturers through sponsored product ads. Retailers can use these native ads to monetize site traffic. The company was founded in the US in 2004 and works with more than 1000 consumer brands including Procter & Gamble, Intel, Google, Disney and Pepsi, plus 50 retailers including Walmart, Rakuten and Macy’s. It’s expected to generate gross revenue of $130m in 2016 and has 190 employees.

Under the deal, Criteo said it will integrate its predictive bidding and product recommendations capabilities into HookLogic’s offering with the aim of increasing campaign performance. It also flagged new demand, a broder base of retailer partners and the opportunity for future innovation as key reasons for the acquisition.

The deal is subject to conditions and expected to close in Q4, 2016.

“With HookLogic's acquisition, Criteo is adding a complementary performance marketing solution to its portfolio, focusing on delivering more value to brand manufacturers and retailers alike,” said Criteo CEO, Eric Eichmann. “We are excited to help develop the HookLogic platform with our own sophisticated technology and to bring their solution to marketers across the globe. Jon and his team at HookLogic are some of the best minds in performance advertising and we are thrilled to welcome them to the Criteo family.”

Pegasystems goes robotic

Customer engagement management vendor, Pegasystems, has released its new Pega Robotic Automation platform, integrated and available within its business process management platform and CRM applications.

The technology behind the robotic automation offering was built by OpenScan, which Pegasystems acquired earlier this year. It’s designed to help teams optimise how work gets done through one platform by automating tasks, streamlining processes, increasing employee productivity.

The vendor said introducing robotics means businesses now have the flexibility to seamlessly use both RPA and BPM together in any combination that works best for them. In addition, Pega Robotic Automation includes an enhanced management console.

“On its own, robotic automation has proven that it can deliver significant productivity gains for employees and organizations that transform customer engagement. But its true power results when it’s combined with other technologies to raise automation to an entirely new level, automating both core business functions and the ‘long tail’ of hard-to-automate tasks,” said Pegasystems CTO and vice-president product marketing, Don Schuerman.

AI and data startup secures US$5.2m

Nugit, an artificial intelligence and data analytics startup founded by Australian tech entrepreneur, David Sanderson, has raised US$5.2 million from investment firm, Sequoiz India.

The company is based in Singapore and has created a platform that aims to turn fragmented marketing data into better decision making. To do this, it uses AI, natural language generation and visual design to turn data into reports via email or Powerpoint that can help marketers manage their workflows.

It already has 500 brands in 34 countries, including 150 in Australia, using the platform such as Facebook and Johnson & Johnson, managing 146,000 connected ad accounts. The vendor claims customers have been able to reduce reporting times by up to 80 per cent as a result.

“Many of the legacy systems that are being used to manage marketing data are slow, over-priced and take months to implement,” said Sanderson. “We believe analytics can be much leaner and more intelligent, by leveraging technologies such as AI and machine learning. Sequoia India’s investment will help us accelerate our R&D and push the boundaries in these areas.”

TapFwd gets US$3m in seed funding

Another adtech player, this time in the mobile data marketplace, has also secured more funding to expand its offering.

TapFwd matches online and offline data sets to mobile device IDs then sells these to help advertisers target campaigns. The ambition is to accelerate the use of mobile as a platform for brand advertising. The idea came off the back of work done by TapFwd CEO, Alex Wasserman, and LiveRamp CTO, Eddit Siegel, to bring third-party data to mobile device IDs two years ago.

The US-based company has raised US$3 million in a seed funding round, led by Partech Ventures. The company is soon expected to expand its offering from ad networks to marketers and DSPs. It also hopes to help marketers match first-party data and match it to mobile device IDs.

Google releases new products

Google on Tuesday launched several products under the mantra of ‘Made by Google’, including two Pixel smartphones that natively run a new Google Assistant built on recent advances in artificial intelligence to improve personalised, voice-capable searches.

Most of the new products had been hinted at for weeks. They include the new Pixel phones, with 5-in. or 5.5-in. screens, a Google Home device that relies on Google Assistant, and a virtual reality headset and controller called Daydream View.

Much of the focus of the event, which was livestreamed from San Francisco, was on Google Assistant. "The goal is to build a personal Google [search] for each user," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai in opening remarks.

With the use of AI, Pichai said, search capabilities can be more personal and more like human speech. "We are evolving from a mobile first to an AI first world," he said.

Another major theme of the event was Made by Google, which incorporates the idea of offering the best Google Android experience "by bringing hardware and software design together under one roof," said Brian Rakowski, vice-president of product management, in a blog. Previously, Google had relied more heavily on third-party manufacturers for its Nexus line of phones, going back to the Nexus One, introduced in 2009.

Marketo releases new updates

Marketo has taken the wrappers off a series of new features and capabilities for its marketing automation platform.

The list includes the ability to create personalised and targeted SMS messages within the Marketo platform and pull them into cross-channel campaigns on the Vibes messaging platform. There’s also audit trail, a history of all changes made within a Marketo subscription, which is aimed at creating accountability among admins.

Also being released are Web personalisation delay, which allows users to specify time delays for personalised Web-based campaigns, multiple branding domain support, and program tokens, which allow users to make changes in Marketo from an external system by reducing the number of API calls.

Visa teams up with Oracle on advertising solutions

Visa has partnered with Oracle to release a new suite of products under its Visa Advertising Solutions offering.

The deal sees the financial services company leverage Internet technologies form Oracle to deliver promotional advertisements to consumers. According to the two companies, merchants will now be able to gain insights into advertising campaigns run on mobile, display, video and social channels by digital advertising and cross-device connection data presented through Oracle’s Data Cloud, combined with aggregate purchase insights from Visa.

Visa Advertising Solutions can also recommend targeted customer segments for future ad campaigns and timely offers based on past purchase behaviour, which can be supplemented with demographics and consumer interests, among other data, from Oracle Data Cloud. Purchase data shared with advertisers is always aggregated and de-identified.

“Successful marketing efforts depend on rich data to measure the results and effectiveness of each channel,” said Visa senior vice-president, loyalty and data solutions, Mike Lemberger. “Combined, Visa and Oracle have unique and powerful assets to help merchants connect the dots between advertising spend and business results – the holy grail of any marketing program.”

Contently’s new hub for content marketers

Content marketing technology provider, Contently, has launched Contently Live, a customisable content hub designed for marketers.

According to the vendor, the hub was designed to help drive business results, such as lead generation, audience attention and revenue, without having to build or maintain a content website or microsite. The new offering integrates with the vendor’s technology and allows users to plan, create, publish, amplify and analyse content on the one platform.

“Simply publishing content isn't enough these days - marketers need to be able to show results,” said Contently co-founder and chief creative officer, Shane Snow. “Everything we've learned from our own content marketing optimisation is built into Contently Live, so users can focus their attention on telling their brand's story. This turnkey content hub will turn great content into leads.”

In a limited release, the vendor claimed marketers who switched from their previous content hub to Contently Live reported a 45 per cent increase in attention time.

  • With additional reporting by Blair Henley Frank and Matt Hamblen.

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