CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 31 August 2017

All the latest martech and adtech news from Adobe, Marketo, Google, Qualtrics, Freshworks, Wrappli, Amplero, Meltwater and Cake.

Adobe enhances email capabilities in Marketing Cloud with AI

Adobe has taken the wrappers off new email marketing innovations it says will help brands lead with experience and improve cut-through in the customer inbox.

Tapping into the capabilities of its underlying Sensei artificial intelligence platform, the new features in Adobe Campaign include the ability to predict and size the best images to use in email using a predictive score. This is calculated on industry data as to how 3 million other customers have reacted to similar images.

Adobe is also using Sensei to analyse changes in customers’ usage and engagement of Adobe Campaign, such as a drastic decrease in emails sent or changes to the frequency of features used and contract terms, in order to predict customer churn.

Also on offer are dynamic reporting to enable actionable data decisions in real time, improved visualisation of email campaign insights, and a drag-and-drop interface for customised reporting. In addition, users are being given access to 18 new email mobile optimised email templates, plus functionality to create multi-lingual email campaigns thanks to fresh integration between Campaign and Adobe Experience Manager.  

“As brands continue to embrace email marketing as a pivotal component to build delightful, holistic experiences, many struggle with meeting customers’ heightened demands,” said Adobe Campaign vice-president, Stephan Dietrich. “Our new email innovations further cement our leadership in helping enterprises provide beautiful, compelling emails that enhance customer relationships, brand awareness and ultimately sales.” 

Marketo and Google strike alliance

Marketo’s new multi-year partnership with Google Cloud will not only improve the scalability and reliability of the marketing automation and engagement platform, it could also give the martech landscape a shake-up, analysts claim.

Under the new partnership, Marketo will shift its infrastructure to the Google Cloud, ensuring all running of its products, end-to-end, is delivered out of a third-party cloud. The two companies are also planning to work together to create integrated solutions for marketers, uniting Marketo’s Engagement Platform with Google’s G Suite and data analytics offerings, and bringing more of Google’s machine learning smarts into the former’s platform.

In a statement, Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas, said the alliance will simplify and improve how the vendor’s clients engage with their end customers. Marketo claims to have more than 6000 customers globally.

“Marketo customers use our Engagement Platform to deliver personalised experiences, fuelling revenue growth and improving brand impact, while scaling to support the demands of today's digital landscape. This collaboration with Google takes that capability to new heights, and I'm incredibly excited about what we'll provide together for our customers,” he said.

But the impact could be far wider than just the back-end benefits for Marketo running on public cloud infrastructure. One analyst suggests it could in fact disrupt the martech space, while another predicts improved analytics in Marketo as a result of the alliance.

Read our full report on the Marketo-Google alliance here.

Freshworks forays into marketing software with latest acquisition

Business software vendor, Freshworks, has made its ninth acquisition in two years, picking up marketing software startup, Zarget.

Zarget provides conversion rate optimisation tools to help brands understand how users interact with their websites in order to improve orders, customer interactions and signups. Key features include user metrics, A/B testing, heatmaps, session recording, polls and feedback.

In a statement, Freshworks said the acquisition will help it focus on building marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes and give Zarget the ability to further expand the marketing suite by tapping into its own global technology capabilities and reach. Specifically, the additional technology slots into the pre-acquisition phase of the customer journey.

Freshworks (formerly known as Freshdesk) claims to have 120,000 customers globally. The latest acquisition comes just a month after the vendor picked up Joe Hukum. “At Freshworks, our ambition is to emerge as the de facto cloud-based business software platform for businesses of all sizes,” said Freshworks CEO and founder, Girish Mathrubootham. “A growing number of our customers have been asking us to help them in their marketing initiatives. Today, our software powers customer engagement across every aspect of the customer journey, from customer acquisition to customer support.

“Acquiring Zarget will enable Freshworks to support customers with the pre-acquisition journey as well and truly transform the way our customers attract and engage with their prospective customers.”

Zarget, a two-year-old startup, has raised $7.5 million to date, based off an initial angel investment from Mathrubootham and early Freshdesk employees.

Qualtrics introduces new methodology to power employee experience

Qualtrics has debuted a new diagnostic assessment and employee experience methodology to enhance its Employee Experience platform. The methodology is based in advice and best practices picked up through thousands of successful employee engagement, talent and culture programs with leading brands globally. The vendor’s Employee Experience platform is designed to measure the entire employee lifecycle and is powered by a predictive intelligence engine. Key features include real-time, role-based insights around staff

Qualtrics offers a free EX diagnostic that provides a customised assessment of employee experience at any organisation based on four pillars: Executive alignment and culture, experience feedback mechanisms, engagement and accountability, and expansion and scale.  “At most companies, there is a significant gap between employee expectations and the delivery of a world-class employee experience. This gap is causing companies to lose good employees who could very well turn into tomorrow’s leaders,” said Qualtrics employee experience expert, Benjamin Granger, PhD.

“Great experiences engage employees and deliver ongoing opportunities for learning, development, and progression, which in turn increase that employee’s contribution and commitment to the company. This lengthens the amount of time an employee stays with the company in an engaged and productive state.” Qualtrics Employee Experience sits within the vendor’s XM Platform, which also covers customer, product and brand experience management.

Aussie startup launches ad platform for cars

Sydney adtech startup, Wrappli, has launched a mobile outdoor advertising tech platform allowing advertisers to leverage car owners in target locations by wrapping their vehicles with advertising.

The company’s offering is supported by patented beacon technology connected to a mobile app that tracks the driver’s car travel and gives advertisers real-time insight into the location of their ads, as well as helps inform drivers of the passive income they’re earning along the way. The technology launch came after Wrappli received a funding boost from Sydney Angels and a syndicate of investors.

Wrappli CEO and co-founder, Suraj Vaghjiani, said the idea came about during a conversation at a startup event between himself and now co-founder, Fiona Aaron, around the general discontent of the high costs of owning a car in Australia.

“Because we both have a background in media and advertising, we wondered whether there was an advertising solution to this problem,” he said. “After a few more brainstorming sessions, the concept behind Wrappli slowly emerged, so we threw $180 into Facebook advertising to see if there was any interest in our idea – and we got over 1000 expressions of interest almost overnight from drivers.”

As well as assisting Wrappli to finalise the original technology, the Sydney Angels funding will allow the team to validate and test the business model even further, and expand into other major cities in Australia later this year.

Interested advertisers gain access to a planning tool, where they can create a campaign by choosing the number of cars they wish to advertise on, and the geographic boundary they want to pay for advertising within. Interested drivers, meanwhile, can download and register the iPhone app (Android release in December). Wrappli conducts an extensive background check of drivers and their vehicles, tracking 100km of their daily routes and driving habits before deeming their suitability for an ad campaign. They will then need to take photos of their wrapped car every 2 to 4 weeks to ensure quality control and accountability.

Amplero brings on learned insights

US-based martech player, Amplero, claims the new Learned Insights capabilities of its Artificial Intelligence Marketing platform are lifting the lid off the ‘black box’ of AI marketing.

The latest news follows on from a recent US$17.5 million Series B cash injection, led by Greycroft and Ignition Partners, which will be used to fund global expansion of the vendor’s platform.

The vendor said new-look Learned Insights are designed to give marketers better visibility into campaign performance and customer behaviour, as well as automatically and continuously optimised against specified short-term and long-term KPIs. These could include incremental revenue or retention rates, for example.

Amplero claims the AIM Platform also uses machine learning and multi-armed bandit experimentation to recursively test and continuously optimise thousands of marketing permutations at the nano-level to expose marketing performance drivers that otherwise may have been overlooked. It then surfaces key themes to marketers through deep links to insight reports.

Brands already using the Amplero platform include Sprint, Xbox, Virgin Mobile and DoubleDown Interactive.

“For companies to deliver optimised customer experiences, there can no longer be daylight between systems of engagement and systems of record - measurement, insight and action must be synonymous,” said Amplero CEO and chief scientist, Olly Downs, PhD. “Based on the number of customer attributes and potential customer experiences, the average B2C enterprise has more testable permutations than the length of the universe in seconds. Rules-based, ‘bolt-on AI’ testing platforms and traditional analytics technologies simply cannot run even a fraction of the simultaneous experiments necessary to keep up.”

Cake pitches at enterprise with new customer journey offering

Digital marketing software vendor, Cake, has launched Journey by Cake, a new cloud-based solution aimed at providing insights into the customer journey.

The Accelerize division said the new offering includes visualisation and analytics tools, and taps data-driven attribution and digital media integrations, built off the back of its marketing intelligence platform. This collects and analyses first-party online data across touchpoints and channels and gives users a dashboard to understand the impact of digital marketing activities.

The attribution functionality, meanwhile, combines predictive analytics with algorithmic attribution to help marketers understand where to optimise campaigns across multiple channels. The platform then uses APIs to integrate with other digital media platforms such as Google AdWords, Bing, Facebook, Marketo, IBM/Silverpop and salesforce.

“Journey by Cake delivers accurate, real-time insight into the customer journey, using advanced analytics and data-driven attribution to optimise digital campaigns,” said Cake president and COO, Santi Pierini. “Our goal is to empower marketers to make better decisions that ultimately maximise ROAS.”

Meltwater buys Algo insights engine

Media intelligence player, Meltwater, has acquired Algo, a real-time data analytics platform based on machine learning.

The purchase is designed to help strengthen Meltwater’s media analytics and insights platform through Algo’s ‘Velocity of Information’ engine, which surfaces rising trends from tens of millions of real-time data points. The deal also sees Meltwater take on Algo’s natural language processing (NLP) and information retrieval experts to oversee product development.

Algo was founded in 2015 and uses machine learning and NLP to tackle online semantic data. It claims its app has been downloaded more than 3 million times. Purchase price was not disclosed.

“Meltwater’s goal is to give our clients access to smart technology that can cut through the data clutter and extract critical insights from billions of data points — data points which would be impossible for a human being to make sense of,” said Meltwater CEO, Jorn Lyseggen.

“There is a vast amount of external data that companies today largely overlook containing real-time information about how competitors invest, how they hire, how they spend their ad budget, and how their products are received in the market. Anyone that is thoughtful about mining this information will create a powerful information advantage over their competitors.”

The acquisition is one in a number made by Meltwater recently. Others include Hong Kong-based big data solutions provider, Klarity, Oxford University spinout, Wrapidity, which uses AI for media monitoring, and Cosmify, a large data set engine.

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