CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 1 June 2017

All the latest martech and adtech news from Demandbase, Marketo, Unlockd, Pascal51, Criteo, AppsFlyer, Zoho and Outbrain.

Demandbase secures US$65 million for ABM platform

Account-based marketing vendor, Demandbase, has raised US$65 million in a new funding round, bringing total capital invested in the business to a whopping $150 million.

The latest fundraising round was led by existing investor, Sageview Capital, and also included new supporters, Silver Lake Waterman, Adobe, Altos Ventures and Sigma Partners. The money will be used to accelerate innovation of the vendor’s artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, as well as drive global growth ambitions.  

ABM is one of the hottest categories of marketing technology at present, and is fast gaining popularity as a way of bringing sales and marketing teams closer together. Demandbase, one of the early players in the space, claims its revenue has more than quadrupled over the last three years.

Demandbase’s ABM platform combines AI and machine learning algorithms with B2B data. Last year, the vendor acquired data science player, Spiderbook, to build out its AI capabilities.

“We are at the forefront of the ABM revolution, and this additional financing will allow us to fast-track the innovation behind our AI-powered ABM solutions and make our platform a must-have for all B2B companies,” said Demandbase CEO, Chris Golec.

Marketo bolsters partner focus with Accelerate program

Marketo has taken the wrappers off a new program under its LaunchPoint partner ecosystem aimed at helping startup martech players get off the ground.

The vendor claims Marketo Accelerate is the industry’s first marketing technology accelerator, and will provide emerging vendors with a tailored program to help them growth their business while also improving the raft of complementary applications available to Marketo customers.  

Under the initiative, applicants will gain full access to the functionality of the Marketo Engagement Platform, developer support to build and connect APIs including a full developer sandbox with exclusive features, co-marketing activities and sales enablement support such as demo days, bootcamps and training. The program is supported by an incentive plan encouraging Marketo’s sales team to introduce Accelerate partner solutions where they can add value to an end customer.

“LaunchPoint continues to be the largest and most diverse martech and adtech ecosystem in the industry,” said Marketo senior vice-president, business development, Robin Ritenour. “The Marketo Accelerate program is focused on empowering LaunchPoint martech and adtech companies to differentiate and create value for themselves to customers, prospects and digital service partners in this ever-expanding landscape.”

Mobile advertising startup raises US$23m

Australian mobile advertising startup, Unlockd, has also been busy raising funding, and has just chalked up US$23 million to help expand across Asia.

According to a report in the Australian Financial Review, the latest fundraising round was led by Malaysia-based telecommunications group, Axiata. Unlockd already has a number of big-name backers including Lachlan Murdoch, Peter Gammell, Citibank Australia chairman, Sam Mostyn, and Catch of the Day founder, Hezi and Gabby Leibovoch. The latest cash injection brings total funding to more than $50 million since the company was established in 2015.

In April, Unlockd also poached Twitter’s VP and head of Asia, Aliza Knox, as its new chief operating officer to oversee international expansion and global operations.

Unlockd’s mobile platform allows consumers to convert time spent viewing ads on their devices into rewards, such as discounts off their mobile phone bill, free additional data or entertainment content. It’s already partnered with News UK, Twitter, Yahoo, Facebook Audience Network, and counts brands such as McDonalds, British Airways, Doritos and Uber as clients.

In May, Unlockd also struck a deal with the largest telco in the UAE, Etisalat.

Australian home-grown CX platform gets seed funding

Also closer to home, a new SaaS-based platform designed to help brands automate customer experience management, has attracted $250,000 in seed capital to launch.

Pascal51 is the brainchild of former executives from Oracle, Salesforce, IBM, NAB and Datarati, and is working on a platform that will automate customer journeys, insights and decision making. The startup has just completed its $250,000 seed capital round of financing and is now working to set up a beta trial of its platform.

Pascal51’s offering is based around a platform that can ingest data, learn from it, generate a customer insight and recommendation, then automate the next best action. It does this by learning from both explicit and implicit behavioural data, that’s both historical and collected in real-time.

It’s being backed by board advisors, Dr. Ray Huetter, part of the founding team from Oracle in Australia, Shailendra Kumar, former partner of Cognitive Solutions at IBM and ex-managing director of Accenture Marketing Analytics, and Atony Ugoni, the head of global analytics and artificial Intelligence at Seek and former head of campaign analytics at National Australia Bank.

“The customer journey is not linear, yet we as marketers are forced to build linear-based customer journeys using today’s best of bread marketing automation software platforms,” said pascal51 CEO, Will Scully-Power. “Every organisation in the world knows the pain of trying to build a multi-channel customer journey using campaign logic and business rules.”  

Pascal51 co-founder and CTO, Nicholas Ho, said its next-generation, machine intelligence CX automation platform is powered by AI and deep machine learning.

“Our technology stack will be leveraging state-of-the art big data processing technologies like Kafka, Spark and Hadoop to enable Pascal51 to ingest, process and recommend the next-best-action at large scale and in real-time,” he explained.

The startup has also been accepted into Amazon Web Services Activate program, following in the footsteps of Slack and Airbnb. It’s also taken the 1 per cent pledge, a corporate philanthropy movement dedicated to making the community a key stakeholder in every business.

Criteo launches header bidding technology

Performance marketing vendor, Criteo, is claiming its new Direct Bidder technology will help deliver up to 40 per cent higher publisher revenue on average from ad buys.

The new header bidding technology directly connects a publisher’s inventory to demand from the vendor’s 15,000 clients globally and is designed to ensure publishers retain the full value of the impressions Criteo buys by cutting out the middle man. The platform works across desktop and mobile inventory, both display and native. The vendor said 250 of its largest premium publishers have already migrated over as part of the early adopter program.

“Criteo was an early pioneer in header bidding and is now releasing a product that further increases value for both publishers and advertisers alike,” said the vendor’s executive vice-president, global supply and business development, Marc Grabowski. “As we shift our buying to this new solution, we expect our clients to achieve higher campaign performance from the solution’s media buying efficiencies.

“We’re already averaging 20-40 per cent higher publisher revenue for Criteo’s ad buys, translating into higher value for advertisers, as well.”

AppsFlyers pitches squarely at ad fraud

Mobile attribution and marketing analytics vendor, AppsFlyer, is looking to better tackle growing attempts at mobile ad fraud with its latest product offering.

According to the vendor, Active Fraud Insights 2.0 uses metadata from 98 per cent of the world’s mobile devices, as well as big data and machine learning technology, to detect and prevent a variety of mobile fraud types such as DeviceID reset fraud, install hijacking and clicking flooding.

Specific functionality includes multi-select grouping filters by media source and siteID, device-based distribution analysis, device fraud detection tools, install fraud checks and install hijacking and click flooding detection. The new offering is part of the vendor’s Active Fraud Suite.

In conjunction with the launch of the product, AppsFlyer said it’s reviewing its 2500 integrated ad networks to ensure the AppsFlyer ecosystem isn’t guilty of contributing to any ad fraud risks.

“Over the last two years, the scale and sophistication of mobile fraud has grown at an alarming rate,” AppsFlyer CEO, Oren Kaniel, said. “Thanks to AppsFlyer's scale, we are in a unique position to detect and prevent mobile fraud faster and more consistently over time than anyone else in the industry. Further, since actions speak louder than words, we are going to regulate the AppsFlyer ecosystem and will remove bad actors from our platform in order to protect our clients: The marketers.”

Zoho freshes up collaboration offering

CRM player, Zoho, has debuted a new version of its team collaboration software aimed at helping improve workflow management.

Zoho Connect has a new user interface which the vendor said has been redesigned around greater efficiency and organisation. There are also new features including manuals, boards and forums to help teams create their own knowledge base, manage work plans from a centralised space, and crowdsource solutions from across the wider organisation.

The vendor has also expanded the list of platform integrations to connect its offering to more than 750 Web apps, adding vendors such as MailChimp, GitHub and Trello to the mix.

“When business users are presented with familiar social tools in their context, the productivity at the individual level and more importantly, the team level, explodes,” said Zoho chief evangelist, Raju Vegesna. “With Zoho Connect, we have merged the familiarity of social tools with contextually integrated productivity tools.”

Outbrain opens native ad inventory to programmatic buying

Content discovery tool, Outbrain, has opened up programmatic trading of native ad inventory after striking a new partnership with AppNexus.

Outbrain Programmatic Access integrates select programmatic demand partners into the vendor’s native ad ecosystem, opening up its marketplace for the first time and allowing brands to bring their own audiences into the mix. Programmatic buyers can use AppNexus to bid on inventory on a CPM basis.

“Overall, we feel this partnership is yet another example of our commitment to and investment in our customers, offering media teams more flexibility and options to reach their goals,” Outbrain said in a blog post.

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