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

All the latest martech and adtech news from Autopilot, MediaMath, Pegasystems, Tealium, Act-On, Nuance Cmmunications, AOL and Snapchat.

Autopilot raises US$12m, announces marketing fitness tracker

Autopilot has raised US$12 million to support expansion of its visual marketing software for automating customer journeys. The company has also released a new ‘fitness tracker’ tool aimed at helping marketers to set, track and measure goals.

The latest capital raising round was led by Blackbird Ventures, with support from Salesforce Ventures and Rembrandt Venture Partners, and brings total funding in the vendor to $32 million to date. Autopilot will use the funds to further its global reach.

Over the past 12 months, the vendor has opened offices in both Sydney and San Francisco, and claims to have tripled revenue thanks to an expanded customer base of 2300 businesses across 90 countries.

Coinciding with the cash injection, Autopilot launched its Insights offering, which it says will help marketers better manage strategic goals around customer engagement. Insights is designed to help marketers track the performance of customer journeys against goals, in a similar fashion to a fitness app. Core features include goal tracking, conversion metrics monitoring, aggregate email performance scores against journeys, and better reporting into individual and multi-channel message results through A/B testing.

“We live in an experience-based world where good marketing doesn’t feel like marketing at all, yet companies today still view their customers as a name and an email in a spreadsheet,” said Autopilot co-founder and CE, Mike Sharkey. “With the launch of Insights and continued support from our investors, we’re helping marketers move beyond batch and blast email to create remarkable multi-channel experiences across the entire customer journey.”

Pega ups the ante with AI-powered offering

CRM vendor, Pegasystems, has launched two new offerings powered by its artificial intelligence engine aimed at improving media management and retail interactions.

Pega Media Manager is a new application that uses AI within the vendor’s Customer Decision Hub to serve relevant digital ads at the moment of interaction. It does this by analysing customer behaviour across owned and paid channels, then adapting ads in real time to suit interactions such as making a purchase, browsing online catalogues, requesting service or clicking an offer.  

It also takes into an account a brand’s ad budget to bid for suitable opportunities, and uses predictive analytics to measure the likelihood a customer will click on the ad against projected ad return.  

The second new AI-powered offering is Pega Retail Advisor, a tablet-oriented application aimed at giving retail associates guidance in order to personalise the in-store experience. This is achieved by analysing past interactions to understand context. Using their mobile device, retail associates can also complete other sales or service tasks, such as checking inventory to placing an order.

Pega Retail Advisor is also powered by the vendor’s Customer Decision Hub and integrated with its core CRM offering.

MediaMath scores US$175m credit facility

MediaMath has secured a US$175 million secured credit facility, led by Goldman Sachs in partnership with Santander Bank, to refinance and fund ongoing growth ambitions.

The Data Management Platform (DMP) provider has been rapidly expanding its global footprint and opened a Korean office last week. The latest credit facility is being used to refinance existing debt facilities and fund these ongoing growth plans.

“We’re thrilled to work with Goldman Sachs and Santander, who are equally ambitious to support the growing scale of our business today, and motivated to support the needs of a reimagined and increasingly sophisticated supply chain in the future,” said MediaMath chairman and CEO, Joe Zawadzki.

Act-On and Evergage partner up

Marketing automation player, Act-On Software, has teamed up with real-time personalisation platform, Evergage, to improve the level of personalisation available through its platform

The new Act-On and Evergage integration supports real-time email content personalisation, allowing marketers to design personalised content and deploy it via Act-On email templates by tapping into a customer’s behaviour, history and preferences. Users can also adapt Web content for each visitor or account by using insights from when they engage with specific email campaigns. Act-On said partnering with Evergage also allows B2B marketers to deliver one-to-one Adaptive Journeys at scale.  

“Marketing is about building relationships, but doing so authentically, consistently, and at scale poses a challenge for most marketers,” said Act-On Software CMO, Michelle Huff. “Which is why at Act-On, we are trying to solve for this by empowering marketers with the tools they need to build personalised, Adaptive Journeys to engage with their customers across multiple channels. Our partnership with Evergage underscores our commitment to making this vision a reality.”

Nuance integrates virtual assistant with Amazon Alexa

Natural language software provider, Nuance Communications, is claiming an industry first after integrating its AI-powered virtual assistant with Amazon Alexa.

The vendor said a series of advancements in conversational AI have allowed it to integrate with Amazon Alexa, allowing organisations to leverage their investment into its ‘Nina’ product to engage through Alexa-powered devices in the home.

As an example, by integrating Nina with smart home IoT devices, Nuance said consumers can connect with their bank, airline, telco and retail brands without needing to dial a phone number. Nina was introduced in 2012 as the first virtual assistant for customer service, and has since evolved into a customer engagement platform that supports a consistent experience across Web, mobile, IVR, messaging and SMS.

Alongside the Alexa announcement, Nuance also unveiled several other advancements using AI across its Digital Engagement Platform to address rising consumer expectations relating to customer engagement. One of these is message-based customer service via asynchronous messaging, allowing end users to live and interrupted chat with providers in the same way they engage with friends via messaging.

Another new addition is Nina Coach, which enables enterprises to train and deploy their virtual assistant faster through automated learning based on live engagements and hidden human coaches. When the virtual assistant does not know an answer to a question, the conversation is seamlessly escalated to a live chat agent within the same engagement window and includes the transcript and history of the conversation.

Nuance Nina for Amazon Alexa and Nina Coach are the only capabilities to be currently available in Australia.

“With Nina, we’re able to provide enterprises with the ability to design a virtual assistant once, then deploy it across the channels on which their customers choose to engage, securely and affordably,” said Nuance executive vice-president and general manager, Enterprise Division, Robert Weideman.

AOL Yields new header bidding solution

AOL has taken the wrappers off Smart Yield, a mobile-first solution creating a unified auction for header bidding advertising.

AOL said the ambition with Smart Yield is to provide advertisers with the inventory they want, while giving mobile publishers and app developers the opportunity to gain the highest possible yield for each impression. 

Smart Yield is an extension of AOL’s desktop-based header bidding in-app, and a server-to-server and client-side hybrid mobile header bidding solution. The core aim is eliminating the latency associated with multiple monetisation partners and improves consumer experience.

Key features include unified demand, a transparent marketplace, integrated ordering and the elimination of latency.  

“According to the latest PwC/IAB expenditure report, mobile now accounts for over 50 per cent of the Australian display market. As this growth rate continues to rise, so too does the demand to bring the concept of header bidding to the mobile in-app experience,” said AOL managing director Asia and A/NZ, Alex Khan.

“We believe the launch of Smart Yield will allow mobile publishers in the region the ability to further leverage their valuable inventory and maximise yield.”

Tealium invests in Australian data centre  

Tealium says its decision to invest in an Australian data centre was driven by rising demand for real-time data and triple-digit growth across Asia-Pacific.  

The local data centre ensures Australian clients can meet local storage compliance and governance requirements for real-time customer data. Tealium’s Universal data Hub provides a platform for enterprise data and tag management.  

Australian companies that have signed up to Tealium’s offering in the last 12 months include Vodafone, William Hill, Cronulla Sharks, Melbourne University and Nude by Nature. 

“Real-time data that can be understood and acted upon in the moment is vital to marketing and business success today,” said Tealium managing director A/NZ, Eyal Mekler. “Tealium’s Universal Data Hub means everyone in the organisation can access this enriched real-time data feed; and for those in verticals like financial services, that real-time data can now be held onshore as needed by relevant local data requirements.”

Snapchat buys location attribution player 

Snapchat has splurged on advertising data player, Placed, as part of efforts to build out its adtech stack for tracking offline conversions from digital ads.

Placed focuses on location-based attribution, using opt-in panels of smartphone users who allow the app to track their location in return for payment. Placed claims to have measured more than $500m in media spend to store visits over the past 12 months, across thousands of campaigns and partners.

In a blog post, the company said it will continue to work independent under its new owner. 

“Placed’s goal continues to be the adoption of a common yardstick that can measure the offline effectiveness of advertising across multiple platforms and publishers,” said its founder and CEO, David Shim.

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