CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 20 October

All the latest martech and adtech news from Campaign Monitor, LivePerson, InMoment, Integral Ad Science, Oblong, PicScout, Freshdesk, Airmarket, Leanplum and TapFwd.

Campaign Monitor links up with Microsoft Dynamics

Email marketing and automation provider, Campaign Monitor, has launched Campaign Monitor for Microsoft Dynamics, providing seamless integration between the Dynamics CRM and its own platform.

Among the core functionality on offer in Campaign Monitor for Microsoft Dynamics are drag-and-drop email building tools, the ability to personalise marketing campaigns using customer data from the CRM platform, mobile optimised email templates, marketing automation to trigger customer journeys using customer data, and reporting tools on engagement.

“Microsoft Dynamics is the CRM of choice for hundreds of thousands of fast-growing companies worldwide,” said Campaign Monitor’s CMO, Kraig Swensrud. “With Campaign Monitor for Microsoft Dynamics, marketers are empowered to easily create branded and personalised email marketing campaigns that engage customers and drive business results.”

LivePerson allows brands to use Google AdWords in messaging

LivePerson, which provides cloud-based online and mobile business messaging solutions, claims it’s the first company to launch a way for large brands to use the Google AdWords click-to-message ad extension.

The ad extension is being rolled out for general use in coming weeks and allows consumers to message an advertiser via SMS, directly from a pay-per-click ad.

LivePerson said its new capabilities allow it to route these messages intelligence to the brand’s sales and services professionals on its LiveEngage platform. Specifically, the vendor tracks and distributes ad responses to teams across geographies as well as measures the results. It then provides an optional pay-for-performance team of people who can answer SMS conversations and queries, and also enables brands to manage message conversations from many media and communications in the one solution.

The capability is already being tested with several clients including a major automotive brand, online leader and large telco.

"LivePerson is the first company in the world to deliver an enterprise-level messaging platform, LiveEngage, and click-to-message ads are a great way for consumers to have an instant, interactive connection to a brand through SMS within this platform,” said its founder and CEO, Robert LoCascio.

"We already power the messaging of many of the largest brands in the world, and we've been working with Google over the past few months with some key customers.”

Integral Ad Science and AOL extend viewability partnership

AOL has integrated Integral Ad Science’s video viewability pre-bid targeting into its ONE platform, a move aimed at helping advertisers better target video ad campaigns.

The two companies kicked off their agreement two years ago after AOL integrated IAS ad fraud detection capabilities. Upon launching ONE last year, an open, multi-channel programmatic platform, IAS became one of its original partners.

The IAS performance-matching video viewability targeting allows advertisers to select, and achieve, viewability thresholds at 40 per cent+, 50 per cent+, 60 per cent+, and 70 per cent+ across display and video campaigns.

“Today marks an important step in a two-year integration with IAS, and we’re proud to now offer their full suite of brand safety, anti-fraud, and viewability tools across video and display,” said president of AOL Platforms, Tim Mahlman.

IAS works by analysing billions of media quality metrics on a daily basis. “The expanded relationship with AOL addresses the massive industry demand for solutions that go beyond simply ensuring that ads are viewable, to instead ensuring that ads are viewed by the appropriate audience on the right device,” its CEO, Scott Knoll, said.

Oblong raises US$65m for its user interface platform

Oblong, a company whose gesture-based user interface technology was the direct basis for the computers depicted in the film, Minority Report, has raised US$65 million in funding to expand its product efforts.

Founded in 2006, the Los Angeles-based company was spun out of research conducted at MIT’s Media Lab around spatially aware, immersive and gesture-enabled interfaces to control apps and data across multiple displays. Its flagship product, Mezzanine, is a data visualisation solution based on its g-speak technology, which enables multi-machine, device-agnostic spatial operating environments using gesture and touch.

The latest funding brings the company’s total equity to $148.73 million from seven rounds and eight investors. Key new investors this time included Greenspring Associates, the Owings Mills, Silicon Valley-based Industry Ventures and Austin-based UTIMCO. They joined historical partners, Morgan Stanley and Foundry Group.

Oblong said the investment will allow it to accelerate product development, launch market redefining innovations faster and help ramp up its expansion into new territories.

“This is a validation of Oblong’s vision and growth potential,” said Oblong CEO, John Underkoffler, who is an award-winning computer scientist. “The future of work is coming fast, and we’re proud to offer the immersive, visually rich, and highly capable tools that enable people at all levels to be as creative, collaborative, and productive in the workplace as success in this century requires.”

PicScout taps AI for better visual intelligence

PicScout, a wholly owned subsidiary of Getty Images, is tapping into artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new intelligence service around visual content.

Insights for Business and Insights for Everyone provide detailed intelligence taken from visual content for customers ranging from consumers through developers, to businesses of all sizes to inform businesses and brands about who is using their products, where they are more popular, and how they are being used. These insights can help inform and influence how a company can most effectively expand their customer base, find new audiences and identify trends before their competitors. Insights for Everyone then provides image owners with intelligence about the location of their images on the Web and insights about their use.

Drawing on years of experience in intelligent data gathering and image analysis, PicScout has released this expanded product line as part of a new strategic direction focused on visual analytics. Acquired by Getty Images in 2011, PicScout originally focused on identifying image use, metadata and licensing information on the Web.

“In our image-saturated world, the demand for authentic quality imagery that tells a story and cuts through the clutter is greater than ever,” said PicScout general manager, Uri Lavi. “These new developments in technology make images and the ability to find, analyse and identify trends and gain knowledge about them more important than ever. This is why these new services are indispensable.”

Freshdesk acquires chat app and bot creator

Customer support software vendor, Freshdesk, has acquired chat app and bot creator, Chatimity, for an undisclosed sum.

India-based Chatimity offers a social chat app that makes business-to-consumer bots and artificial intelligence-powered bots for real-time digital conversations. These include MITI, which uses natural language processing to automate thousands of conversations, and the group also employs state machines and artificial intelligence markup language. It has 3 million registered users. The company was founded in 2011 by ex-Google staffers, Tarkeshwar Thakur and Aravind Murthy.

Under the deal, Chatimity’s seven-strong team will join Freshdesk and are tasked with helping build a bot infrastructure and chatbots for support, benefits and sales. The acquisition is Freshdesk’s sixth in just over a year.

“People want a fast, personalised response. Chat will play an important role in the future of communication for customer service but scaling that infrastructure continues to be a challenge,” Freshdesk CEO, Girish Mathrubootham, said.

Airmarket debuts location-based mobile ad platform

Airmarket has launched a mobile advertising platform that combines hyper-location data with programmatic technology.

The technology will enable smartphone users to receive notifications based on hyper-location and time of day, by giving advertisers access to a global network of beacons. Under the new offering, for example, advertisers will be able to buy beacon-triggered notifications on Airmarket in a similar way to how they currently purchase other programmatic media channels, the company said.

You can read our full report on the news here.

Leanplum secures US$29 million for mobile marketing cloud

Leanplum, a US-based group looking to position itself as a mobile marketing cloud, has raised US$29 million in Series C funding led by Canaan Partners, with participation from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers and Shasta Ventures.

The company launched in 2012 by former Google engineers and provides a mobile marketing platform aimed at helping marketers improve engagement across messaging and in-app experiences. Key capabilities include messaging, automation, app editing, personalisation, A/B testing and analytics, all tapping into real-time mobile intelligence, in-app behaviour, purchase history and location. Customers using the platform today include Tesco, Tinder, Zynga and Lyft.

The latest funding brings total investment to $46,3m. The cash will be used to expand sales, marketing and engineering team and to drive global expansion.

“The holy grail of marketing is understanding the needs of each customer in order to deliver unmatched value at the optimal moment,” said Leanplum CEO and co-­founder, Momchil Kyurkchiev.

“Mobile unlocks levels of behavioural intelligence and personalisation we never thought possible in the Web-only days. By 2020, we will see 6B smartphones, shifting the paradigm to mobile being the primary computer for people worldwide. Leanplum is uniquely positioned to help brands create high-converting mobile app experiences. This latest investment from Canaan Partners, KPCB, and Shasta Ventures is a strong validator of our cutting edge product and will further fuel our market leadership.”

InMoment releases Experience Hub 2.0

Customer experience optimisation vendor, InMoment, has launched Experience Hub 2.0, the latest version of its platform offering better tools for prioritising and actioning customer insights.

The company claims Hub 2.0 enhances the scope and richness of data, prioritises insights for more actionability and impact, and offers more intuitive reporting tools. There’s also an upgraded user interface added back-end flexibility and scalability.

A key new feature is comment exploration with explore, which taps unstructured data from surveys, videos and social media to help marketers sort through customer data using time period, sentiment, topic and keyword as key criteria. There’s also an integrated voice of employee capability, aimed at helping teams create a more streamlined and consistent flow of information to employees around customer insights through always-on forums, pulse inquiries and targeted outreach.

The solution also aims to help users better manage case management with alerting, direct customer communications via an app, tracking progress and prioritisation.

“One of the largest contributors to ineffective customer experience initiatives is a failure to act,” said InMoment CEO and founder, John Sperry. “It’s not due to a lack of information. What’s missing is the why.

“Until now, most solutions have lacked the analytics chops to mine that data for descriptive, predictive, and even prescriptive insights. Hub 2.0 is the only solution on the market that combines these capabilities into one seamless, effective experience.”

TapFwd to leverage Drawbridge to leverage cross-device data

Mobile data platform vendor, TapFwd, has brought on Drawbridge’s digital identity solution to improve the way it determines intelligence around mobile devices.

The company will use Drawbridge’s Connected Consumer Graph to help determine which offline and online data points are most relevant to associate with a particular device. TapFwd said it chose Drawbridge because of the scale and precision of its cross-device data as well as the ability to tailor those variables.

The Drawbridge Connected Consumer Graph includes more than one billion consumers across more than three billion devices. TapFwd customers, meanwhile, have access to more than 250 billion data points covering 500 million mobile devices. This information can be used to build audience segments for more targeted marketing activity.

“Incorporating Drawbridge’s cross-device identity data into Cerebro, the technology that powers our mobile data marketplace, helps us more accurately determine which offline and online data attributes should be associated with a mobile device,” said TapFwd CEO and co-founder, Alex Wasserman. “With Drawbridge as a partner, we come one step closer to our goal of offering mobile ad networks, publishers, and marketers the most holistic and precise mobile data available.”

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