CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 7 September 2017

All the latest martech and adtech news from Lithium, Sizmek, LookBookHQ, WhatsApp, RhythmOne, Demandbase, Augment Space and SpotX.

Lithium snaps up Jive Software community business

Social media management platform player, Lithium Technologies, has picked up Jive’s external community business for an undisclosed sum.

The deal comes just months after Jive Software was acquired by ESX Capital division, Aurea, in a deal worth US$462 million. Aurea is a customer experience platform vendor focused on enterprise process management, messaging, CRM, email marketing and collaboration software.

In a statement, Lithium said the move reinforces its commitment to external online communities, and will see the two companies combine their customer bases. It also gives Lithium access to a wider array of community features. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and closing conditions.

“Bringing Jive-x customers into the Lithium portfolio will give these customers access to our cumulative knowledge and the best innovation of both products, delivering significant business value for all,” said Lithium president and CEO, Rob Tarkoff.

“During this transition, we will be focused on ensuring continuity of service for all Jive-x customers. We will continue to offer the Jive-x solution and are committed to providing continued, excellent support for the customers and the platform.”

Aurea CEO, Scott Brighton, said the deal allows Jive to narrow its focus onto serving internal communities. “Jive will deepen its commitment to creating true enterprise-wide collaboration in an increasingly complex, fractured and global business environment,” he said.  

In an interview with CMS Wire, principal and co-founder of The Community Roundtable, Rachel Happe, said the Jive purchase, combined with Lithium’s acquisition of social media ranking platform, Klout, made it the go-to shop for building customer communities.

Read the full CMS Wire report here.

Sizmek completes acquisition of Rocket Fuel

Sizmek is claiming it now offers the world’s largest independent buy-side platform for agencies and brands after completing its acquisition of Rocket Fuel.

Sizmek announced its intention to acquire the marketing technology company in July in a deal worth US$145 million. Together, the businesses service 20,000 advertisers and 3600 agencies globally in 70 countries with artificial intelligence-based predictive analytics, dynamic creative and media optimisation, making them one of the largest independent marketing platforms in this space.

Following closure of the deal this week, Sizmek confirmed it plans to drop the Rocket Fuel brand in coming months. Company executive chairman, Mark Grether will become CEO of Sizmek, with former Rocket Fuel CEO, Randy Wootton, as special advisor, working with both Sizmek and Rocket Fuel teams throughout the transition period in order to ensure it is seamless. 

Sizmek said aligning its creative optimisation and data activation capabilities with Rocket Fuel's artificial intelligence-powered predictive marketing platform will provide clients with a full buy-side stack to manage campaigns and maximise ROI across their entire media plans in real time.

“Sizmek’s unique ability to centralise data components in one place, across the entirety of the media plan, combined with Rocket Fuel’s AI-enabled decisioning, provides our clients with robust data on the campaign, the consumer, the context, the creative, and the cost,” said Grether.  

LookBookHQ raises US$11m to fund expansion

Content marketing vendor, LookBookHQ, has secured US$11 million in a Series B funding round to scale up sales and marketing and ramp up product innovation.

The Canadian-based company offers a content platform for B2B marketers aimed at helping them better manage content along the path to purchase. It does this by tapping data sets to identify where a prospect is in the buyer funnel then selects content appropriate to their needs.

The latest cash injection was made by existing investor, Edison Partners, 12 months after its original investment. Since them, LookBookHQ claims to have realised 2.5X recurring revenue growth and signed up more than 100 enterprise organisations to its platform.

In a statement, LookBookHQ noted figures from the Content Marketing Institute suggesting content marketing is a US4200 billion industry and expected to climb.

“The market opportunity is enormous, with 91 per cent of B2B marketers embracing content marketing and only 42 per cent providing its effectiveness,” said Edison Partners partner, Gregg Michaelson. “LookBookHQ CEO, Mark Opauszky, and his exceptional team are attacking this issue head-on. With this funding, we look forward to continuing to help the company drive exponential growth and deliver content marketing effectiveness for its customers.”

WhatsApp pitches at businesses

Facebook-owned WhatsApp has taken the wrappers off plans to develop standalone versions of its mobile messaging app aimed at connecting businesses and their customers more easily. 

WhatsApp Business will be free for small businesses, with a paid-for enterprise version targeted at those with a global customer base. Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for approximately US$19 billion. The app now has more than 1 billion users.

In a blog post, the company said the proposed enterprise app will allow large organisations including airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks to contact customers with notifications, such as “flight times, delivery confirmations, and other updates”. Pricing information was not disclosed.

WhatsApp has been steadily enhancing its business-to-consumer capabilities for some time now. Last week, the firm announced a business verification system, with a green badge indicating WhatsApp has confirmed a phone number belongs to an authenticated business account. WhatsApp has previously announced plans to allow businesses to contact customers with marketing messages.

In its blog post, WhatsApp said it will work with business users as part of a closed pilot program to test additional new services ahead of a wider launch. 

RhythmOne purchases video ad platform player for US$185m

The third acquisition across the adtech space in the past week is RhythmOne’s purchase of video ad platform provider, YuMe.

The deal is worth up to US$185 million and a combination of both cash and stock, and is due to close in Q1, 2018. As part of the deal, RhythmOne’s CEO, Ted Hastings, will lead the unified entity. The YuMe business is expected to continue to run independently, but its managed services DSP will be put into the RhythmOne marketplace to open up programmatic selling opportunities.

RhythmOne chairman, Raj Chellaraj, said YuMe’s demand-side strengths and innovation in video advertising complement the programmatic platform that his company has built over the last three years. The vendor noted YuMe’s experienced executive team, its sales, engineering, product and operational expertise and its India-based technology development and ad operations centre as key reasons for the acquisition.

YuMe CEO, Paul Porrini, told AdExchanger the group had been “pivoting strategically” to having a programmatic pipeline and increased its programmatic revenue from about 25 per cent to 35 per cent of total revenue, clocking $21 million in annual programmatic revenue for 2016. Combining with RhythmOne positions us to be a leading programmatic platform end to end, he said.

RhythmOne itself is made up of acquired parts. First known as Blinkx for its video platform and ad network offering, the company purchased Burst Media in 2011 and then select pieces of the RadiumOne ad network earlier this year.

YuMe, meanwhile, is a publicly listed company on the New York Stock Exchange.

Read the full AdExchanger report here.

Aussie startup to bring VR to the masses

A South Australian startup is looking to bring virtual reality capability to the masses with a new tool for making quick and affordable virtual tours.

Augment Space’s online platform allows anyone, from home owner to business, to upload 360-degree photos and create interactive virtual tours and walkthroughs. The platform is compatible with 360-degree cameras and is looking to also include all mobile devices in the future, and finished tours can be viewed on any device including mobile. They can also be shared on social media or embedded into a website.

Augment Spaceco-founder and CEO, Akash Nigam, said the platform is particularly suited to those wanting to showcase a property or project. An early customer on the company’s books is Raine & Horne South Australia, which said the platform was a user-friendly and cost-effective way of producing virtual tour content.

The platform is being pitched from $10 per month (ex-GST) and is all cloud based.

“The platform also allows users who share their virtual tour on social media or a website to track the number of views and interactions, which can deliver an insight into the level of interest in your project,” Nigam said. “And you can easily add a floor plan to your video, delivering a significant advantage for real estate agents or private home sellers wanting to showcase a property especially those in more rural locations.”  

Demandbase and ITSMA join forces  

Account-based marketing platform vendor, Demandbase, has joined forces with ITSMA, the B2B marketing leadership community that pioneered the ABM concept to promote the strategy to a wider market.  

The two organisations said they’re coming together to help accelerate ABM take-up and will work in unison on integrated strategies and programs across the three key ABM approaches: One-to-one, one-to-few and one-to-many. The aim is to enable marketers to drive impact more efficiently, flexibly and quickly by tapping into the combined technology, advisory, education and process capabilities that exist across both organisations. The two also offer certification courses in ABM.  

ITSMA and Demandbase marked the news of their partnership with a new research report in partnership with the ABM Leadership Alliance, that found most successful B2B companies take a comprehensive approach to their ABM programs. The research found 35 per cent of ABM marketers today implement more than one type of ABM, but among high performers, 63 per cent had at least two methods running.  

“The partnership with fellow ABM leader, Demandbase, is a natural step in the evolution of ABM as a strategic discipline for business and marketing leaders,” ITSMA president and CEO, David Munn, said.  

“Bringing the expertise of our two organisations together will allow all marketers to understand, implement and ultimately benefit from ABM.”  

RTL Group takes full control of SpotX  

Germany-based RTL Group has confirmed it’s taken full ownership of SpotX, a global adserving platform, for US$145 million.

The broadcaster originally took a 65 per cent stake in SpotX back in 2014. The SpotX business will sit underneath RTL’s Digital Hub division, where the team will collaborate with Smartclip, a video ad distribution platform RTL acquired in March.    

“Together with the very experienced management teams of SpotX and Smartclip, we are working on an ambitious growth plan for our adtech businesses,” said RTL Group co-chief executive officers, Bert Habets and Guillaume de Posch, in the company’s recent second quarter financial announcement.  

“This plan includes the close collaboration between SpotX and Smartclip, rolling out their solutions across our operations and scaling up the businesses with further acquisitions and partnerships.”  

The deal is due to close in October. 

  • With additional reporting by Matthew Finnegan.

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