CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 19 January 2017

All the latest martech and adtech news from Salesforce, Act-On Software, Rubicon Project, Rocket Fuel, Networked Insights, Taboola, AppsFlyer, Acxiom and Callidus Cloud

Salesforce integrates Commerce Cloud with Facebook ads

Salesforce has integrated its Commerce Cloud offering with Facebook Dynamic Ads, giving users the opportunity to extend brand and products directly into the social sphere.

The integration connects a customer’s product catalogue to the Facebook and Instagram platforms, and places a Facebook activity tracking pixel on the user’s site. Commerce Cloud customers can then use these capabilities to serve up dynamic ads to end customers that have expressed an interest on their website through social media channels and via the centralised commerce control panel.

“Distributed commerce - the concept of shopping from any Internet-connected device, platform or application - will have a profound impact on retail,” said Salesforce VP of product marketing, Gordon Evans, in a blog post. “It is upending typical buying patterns, as consumers no longer follow a linear path but meander between touch points. However, it also presents significant upside for leading retailers and brands who can quickly and dynamically implement these capabilities.”

Currently in beta, the integration will be generally available in Q1, 2017.

Rocket Fuel restructures business

Ad tech player, Rocket Fuel, is reorganising its operations around two core offerings: Predictive marketing platform solutions and media services.

According to the vendor, the changes are about accelerating its transformation into a SaaS-based, artificial intelligence powered platform solutions company. The changes are also being reflected in a global leadership change, with UK-based SVP and MD of international, David Gosen, becoming GM of platform solutions and international, and SVP of product, Simon Hayhurst, becoming GM of media services.

“Our top goal in 2017 is returning to growth,” said Rocket Fuel CEO, Randy Wootton. “We will do this by working side by side with the world’s largest agencies and brands to leverage the value of our predictive marketing platform. We believe we can accelerate the traction in our platform solution business, which -- at scale – should have lower costs of sales and service.

“We will continue plans to integrate our Moment Scoring technology into the top marketing platform OEMs to improve their predictive capabilities. Finally, we will continue partnering with some of the most influential system integrators to create robust solutions for their customers that integrate the very best offerings in the adtech/martech ecosystem.”

Rubicon Project up for sale, closes intent marketing division

Adtech player, Rubicon Project, has put itself up for sale, according to media reports, and has also announced the closure of its intent marketing division.

According to a report on AdExchanger, the company has suffered from tanking stock, layoffs and leadership changes over the past year, prompting it to appoint Morgan Stanley to explore a sale.

This week, the company also announced it will close the division it created following its US$122 million acquisition of Toronto-based intent marketing company, Chango, because its performance didn’t meet expectations. In its place, Rubicon Project has struck an agreement with IgnitionOne to refer existing intent marketing clients and employees for a two-year period.

“The intent marketing solution, which generated approximately $41 million in GAAP revenue and $19 million in non-GAAP net revenue in fiscal 2016, was not contributing significantly to revenue and did not justify the associated costs,” the company stated in an SEC filing in the US.

“These actions will enable the Company to increase focus on growth areas, such as mobile, video, orders, header bidding, and the recently announced consumer initiative.”

Networked Insights raises US$30m for AI tech

Another US-based company in the martech space, Networked Insights, will benefit from a generous cash injection after raising US$30 million in its latest fundraising round.

The company said it will use the money to fund expansion of its deep learning and artificial intelligence capabilities, as well as expand internationally, generate new partnerships and acquisitions and scale-up sales and marketing operations.

Networked Insights has raised US$80 million to date from investors such as Sands Light Capital, Goldmach Sachs, American Family Ventures and 4490 Ventures. Its 200-strong customer list includes both brands as well as global media buying agency, GroupM.

The vendor’s flagship offering, Kairos, uses artificial intelligence to gain a more holistic view of people’s lives, so marketers can develop campaigns that are more relevant to consumers. According to Networked Insights research, only 1 per cent of what customers care about in their online conversations revolves around brands, yet marketers typically spend about 75 per cent of their budgets trying to influence those conversations.

Taboola acquires Commerce Sciences

Content discovery platform provider, Taboola, has acquired Commerce Sciences, a vendor focused on Web personalisation and onsite optimisation.

The deal was struck earlier this month and sees all Commerce Sciences employees joining Taboola’s Tel Aviv offices. Commerce Science was founded in 2012 by ex-Israeli intelligence alumni, Aviv Revach and Eyal Brosh, and is backed by Genesis Partners, Innovation Endeavours and KGC Capital.

Taboola’s owner said it was attracted to how Commerce Science’s technology analyses implied characteristics of users on the Web, depending on situational factors such as day, device type, location and referral source. These capabilities will now be combined with Taboola’s personalisation products.

“These are important times to understand the value of data and the user experience, as the Web has become very fragmented. The notion of personalisation based on user demographics is old school,” said Taboola founder and CEO, Adam Singolda. “It’s evolving into the context in which users are consuming the Web; we all have multiple personas as we come from social, search, our phone, and more - imagine if every site had a version tailored to each one of those personas.

“I’m very excited to work with Aviv, Eyal and the talented Commerce Sciences team who spent five years focused on this very complex challenge of personalisation. Together, I believe we have a clear path to unlocking the potential of a ‘Web of one’, tailored to each and every one of us based on the context in which we consume content.”

Ad-Juster acquired by private equity firm

Advertising automation player, Ad-Juster, has been acquired by a Chinese private equity group as part of plans to take the business global.

Innotech Capitals, which is based in Shanghai, said Ad-Juster retains its current management team and will continue to run under the same business model. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Ad-Juster’s technology automates manual processes for publishers, ad agencies, ad networks and adtech platforms and specialises in display ad reporting, third-party data aggregation, programmatic reporting, ad viewability and mobile and video reporting. The business was founded in 2007.

“Innotech International Group will quickly help Ad-Juster expand its unique offerings to global markets starting with China and the Asia-Pacific region,” said founding partner of Innotech Capitals, Oliver Chen, in a statement. “The business will meet the growing need for automated operations and solutions around the world.”

AppsFlyer raises US$56 million

Elsewhere in Israel, apps marketing technology platform, AppsFlyer, has secured US$56 million to expand its operations internationally.

The company was founded in 2011 and focuses on measuring the effectiveness of app-install ads, as well as traffic coming into a specific app. Its software development kit has now been installed on more than 2.5 billion unique smartphone devices.The latest C round fundraising was led by Qumra Capital and supported by Goldman Sachs Private Capital Investing, Deutsche telekon Capital Partners and existing investors.

AppsFlyer plans to use the funding to expand into Asia as well as explore merger and acquisition opportunities.

Acxiom and Verve join forces

Acxiom has partnered up with location-based mobile marketing provider, a deal that sees the pair uniting mobile advertising and offline data measurement in order to help marketers and agencies better reach consumers across mobile devices.

The deal sees Verve added to Acxiom's publisher partner ecosystem, allowing Acxiom clients to integrate Verve's proprietary location intelligence and premium app publisher network into campaigns. Verve clients will also be able to make location-mobile media investments on the Verve platform using Acxiom third-party data through its AbiliTec identity resolution technology.

“We are pleased to deepen our relationship with Verve, an organisation that shares our approach to maintaining the highest levels of data precision and accuracy,” said Axciom SVP of sales for audience solutions, Anne Doherty. “This partnership underscores our commitment to provide our clients with an ever-expanding network of partners through which they can activate first- and third-party data and extrapolate powerful insights. By leveraging two best-in-class partners, Acxiom and Verve clients will be able to build more robust mobile strategies that delight consumers and drive business outcomes.”

Callidus Software strikes OEM agreement with SAP

Callidus Software has signed a strategic OEM agreement with SAP bringing its sales, marketing, learning and customer experience solutions into the enterprise software giant’s ecosystem.

The agreement will see Callidus’ commissions, configure price quote and contract lifecycle management solutions integrated within SAP applications. The pair said the integration was aimed at helping businesses betters streamline sales incentives, increase quotes and accelerate contracts.

“SAP customers across every industry and geography are looking to leverage the digital economy to increase sales, reduce costs and gain greater insights into their sales performance data,” said SAP SVP and general manager, ISV, Cloud and Platform Partnerships, Steve Erdman. “Through our partnership, we’ve experienced first-hand how Callidus Cloud can help boost sales performance and eliminate complexity from the sales process and increase value to customers.”

CaliberMind joins forces with Terminum ABM offering

B2B predictive marketing vendor, CaliberMind, has merged its solutions with Terminus Cloud for Account-based marketing.

The company offers persona builder modules that can be added to existing CRM and marketing automation platforms. Thanks to the new deal, these will now fit into the Terminus ABM stack, enabling marketers to track buying signals across the B2B buyer’s journey.

CaliberMind’s platform can be integrated with marketo, salesforce, Oracle Eloqua and The Big Willow.

*Editor's note: This weekly martech report mistakenly included a piece on Act-On Software raising cash. The report has now been adjusted to address this error.

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