CMO's top 8 martech stories for this week - 27 April

All the latest martech and adtech news from Zeta Global, Oracle, Marketo, Microsoft, Optimizely, AdRoll, Rocket Fuel and Hootsuite.

Zeta Global raises US$140m

Zeta Global’s executive team says its US$140 million cash injection represents a “watershed moment” for the marketing technology player in its 10-year history.

The SaaS company, which provides a digital marketing management platform, picked up the whopping capital injection in a Series F funding round led by GPI Capital and sponsored by Franklin Square Capital Partners. The latest round is the biggest in the company’s history and brings total capital invested to $250m to date. It also brings the vendor's total market cap to US$1.3 billion.

Zeta was founded by David A Steinberg and John Sculley, the former CEOs of Apple and Pepsi, in 2007. The vendor’s flagship ZetaHub offering was recognised in Gartner’s latest Magic Quadrants for digital marketing hubs as well as multichannel campaign management alongside Adobe, IBM, Salesforce and Oracle.

The US-based company claims it grew by more than 50 per cent in 2016 and boasts of 1200 employees across four continents. Clients include Petco, Tesco, American Airlines, AIG, Ralph Lauren and British Gas.

The new financing will be put towards fuelling Zeta’s growth through strategic acquisitions and investments in technology, operations and sales and marketing.

“This is a watershed moment for Zeta Global. We are thrilled to start our new relationship with GPI Capital and are proud of our continued support from our partners at GSO and Blackstone,” said Steinberg. “We are hitting every milestone in our evolution and will continue to capitalise on acquisitions that will enhance and extend our marketing cloud so that we can deliver even more to our bluechip client base.”

As part of the deal, managing partner and chief investment officer of GPI Capital, Bill Royan, joins Zeta's board of directors. “We believe Zeta’s assets and capabilities make the company uniquely positioned to capitalise on this shift,” he said.

Oracle announces AI play for marketing

Artificial intelligence-based apps that blend first and third-party data for better customer engagement interactions and real-time chatbots are just some of the new cloud-based offerings unveiled by Oracle this week.

The vendor’s answer to artificial intelligence in CX, its new Adaptive Intelligent Apps, extend AI capabilities across key Oracle Customer Experience Cloud offerings, including Marketing, Service, Sales and Commerce. Each of the four apps is being offered as a plug-in for execution platforms within each cloud and designed for servicing a particular need of each user.

The apps take advantage of third-party audience data housed in the Oracle Data Cloud and sourced from BlueKai, as well as an end customer’s first-party data sets, and is designed to improve customer experience across the customer lifecycle in real-time, the vendor said.

Oracle has also launched a Chatbots platform, allowing marketers, service and commerce teams to tap into text and voice-based interaction platforms such as Facebook Messenger and Amazon Alexa, to respond to customer questions.

Read our full report on the product announcements here.

Marketo acquires ToutApp

Marketo has acquired US-based sales software vendor, ToutApp, in an effort to extend its platform out of marketing automation and into wider engagement management.

ToutApp, a San Francisco-based company, was established in 2011 and provides a sales engagement tool for managing sales campaigns, content management and analytics. The vendor claims to about 100,000 sales executives use its tools today across 400 enterprise customers including Citrix, CA Technologies, Siemens, Tableau and Revel.

In a statement, Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas, said the acquisition of ToutApp helped to round out his company’s engagement capabilities and better tie together marketing and sales functions. It’s also a step further forward in terms of facilitating account-based marketing (ABM) activities, as well as Marketo Sales Insights.

“Brands that win today engage customers in a meaningful way at every step of the journey and this requires coordinated execution across the entire enterprise, particularly within sales and marketing,” Lucas said.

ToutApp founder and CEO, Tawheed Kader (TK), along with the rest of the vendor’s 30 staff, will join Marketo as part of the deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Read our full story on the acquisition here.

AdRoll integrates with Marketo

In related news this week, AdRoll, a programmatic advertising platform provider, has announced a product integration with Marketo’s automation platform.

The AdRoll Marketo Connector is a direct integration designed for B2B marketing’s growing account-based marketing efforts and enables marketing and sales teams to target accounts through programmatic advertising across the customer journey and in coordination with other channels. The tool allows marketers to unite programmatic advertising campaign data in the Marketo Engagement Platform to identify customer touchpoints across all channels.The tool is being rolled out internationally but is not yet available in APAC.

Digital operations management vendor, PagerDuty, has used the AdRoll Marketo Connector and claims increased conversions and better visibility into customer journeys.

“We didn't have a lot of visibility into the customer journey and didn't know which levers to pull to speed up our marketing efforts - all platforms were reporting numbers that didn't match with our source of truth, Marketo,” said its senior demand manager, Paul Suway. “The AdRoll Marketo Connector has been hugely helpful because we are able to better identify the types of content people are viewing and engaging with.”

AdRoll was one of the initial partners for Marketo’s Account-Based Marketing offering, launched in 2016.

Microsoft extends LinkedIn data in battle of the CRM

The moment Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, was dreading has arrived: Microsoft is wielding LinkedIn against Salesforce in the battle for the CRM market.

As of this week, salespeople will get LinkedIn Sales Navigator data alongside other information in the Dynamics 365 Sales dashboard. Users who have both systems will see information from LinkedIn profiles inside the lead, contact, account and opportunity pages of Dynamics 365 Sales. Dynamics and LinkedIn Sales Navigator will sync their information every day so LinkedIn’s system is up to date on activity from Microsoft’s CRM and vice versa.

On top of the LinkedIn announcement, Microsoft also launched Dynamics 365 for Talent, to help companies manage their workforces, and Dynamics 365 for Retail to manage commerce operations. All these launches are part of Microsoft’s push to create next-generation systems of record for businesses that are based in the cloud.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a number of features meant to aid with selling, like the ability to get automatic lead recommendations from LinkedIn’s data and to send users promotional messages through LinkedIn. The integration with Dynamics 365 for Sales means it will make more sense for people using Sales Navigator to buy Microsoft’s CRM and vice versa. That’s important as Microsoft woos companies also considering alternatives from rivals like Salesforce and Oracle.

Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for $26.2 billion last year.

Hootsuite spends US$5m on developer fund

Social media management vendor, Hootsuite, is putting US$5 million behind a multi-year fund to support developers building enterprise-grade integrations and business applications for its platform.

The Hootsuite Integration Fund is being launched in conjunction with a new partner portal and is aimed at accelerating extension of the Hootsuite platform into the enterprise space. Those securing funding will be chosen based on customer needs and alignment with the vendor’s wider strategy and will get both investment dollars as well as opportunities to participate in co-marketing programs.

Hootsuite claims the largest ecosystem of any social media management platform, and has hundreds of applications in its App Directory and more than 2.5 million app installs. In a statement, the company said its commitment to third-party developers was about building best-of-breed integrations that gives customers more flexibility in how its social media management solutions are employed.

“We’re investing in the Integration Fund to encourage them to continue to develop applications that enable our customers to connect social to marketing, analytics, and other business solutions they rely on every day,” said Hootsuite senior vice-president of strategy and corporate development, Matt Switzer.

The new partner portal, meanwhile, provides full access to Hootsuite’s SDKs and APIs, a developer blog and technical support.

RocketFuel signs up to IBM Watson

Rocket Fuel has expanded its partnership with IBM and integrated Watson Discovery into its marketing technology platform.

Called ‘Brand Moments’, the new functionality gives Rocket Fuel’s artificial intelligence technology the ability to be responsive to real-time sentiment in news stories, helping brands deal with potential reputation risks as well as assist with advertising. Rocket Fuel is testing the new AI to AI capability with select customers and hopes to make the offering widely available later this year.

“This integration means our clients can now have better control over their association with particular keywords and breaking news,” Rocket Fuel GM platform solutions and senior vice-president of international, David Gosen, said. “And it gives them a more informed view of when and where their brand will appear. Imagine you were selling holidays to a particular destination. Our platform technology combined with IBM Watson Discovery could examine the sentiment in countless stories online – both good and bad – about a particular region. Then it can accept or reject, bid high, bid low or not at all on an advertising opportunity based on the impact this will have on a brand’s success.”

Optimizely purchases experimentation tool

Optimizely has acquired Experiment Engine, a tool aimed at helping teams better manage experimentation efforts.

The tool is design to help businesses deliver experimentation and personalisation across websites, mobile apps and connected devices. The experimentation project management, reporting and analysis and sharing functionality is expected to be fully integrated into the Optimizely platform.

Both Experiment Engine’s chief and founder, Claire Vo, and several of its team, are joining Optimizely under the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

- With additional reporting from Blair Henley Frank.

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