CMO's top 6 martech stories for the week - 7 December 2017

All the latest martech, adtech and customer technology news from Zeta Global, Blis, dataxu, AdRoll, Sprout Social and Amobee.

Zeta Global buys audience engagement platform  

Zeta Global has made its 11th acquisition, purchasing audience engagement platform, Disqus, to round out its marketing platform.  

The deal is the second for Zeta this year after AI player, Boomtrain, and comes after the company closed a US$140 million Series F financing round to build out its product offering. Financial terms were not revealed but several media reports suggest the price tag could be US$90 million.    

Purchasing Disqus brings in one of the world’s largest first-party data sets, a publisher audience SaaS offering and a wider ecosystem of publishing and marketing partners, the company stated. The company claimed 75 per cent of the Web’s top 1000 most engaged sites use Disqus’ commenting system offering, including The Atlantic, Spoiler TV and TMZ. Existing customers will continue to be serviced under existing terms.  

Zeta Global CEO, chairman and co-founder, David A. Steinberg, said the vendor is looking to redefine the marketing technology space with actionable data, AI and a marketing hub that can act as a “nerve centre” for data-driven marketers.

“Disqus strengthens Zeta’s ability to offer the best of both worlds with the scale, visibility and performance marketers have been asking for,” he said. “Marketers typically have to make trade-offs between reaching engaged audiences on social platforms with massive reach and using tools that give them control and access to granular targeting capabilities. Disqus strengthens Zeta’s ability to offer the best of both worlds with the scale, visibility and performance marketers have been asking for.”  

Zeta has been steadily building out its marketing platform, buying a number of capabilities including eBay’s customer relationship division in 2015.

Blis focuses on trends

Location vendor, Blis, has launched a new consumer analytics tool designed to help marketers analyse mobile movement data and extend their audience profiling capabilities.

The new Smart Trends offering provides in-store consumer behavioural insights and in-store comparisons of multiple location types and brands. The data can be broken down into demographic, context, time of day and device type and be used to compare the behaviour of user groups side by side.

Blis achieves this by overlaying device ID, longitude and latitude and timestamp data, then merges it with other behavioural data sets. Based on the new capabilities, Blis has also released a new report, Mastering Consumer Trends: A Global Retail Study, which found shoppers in Sydney are more likely to be contextual browsers, visiting sites or apps related to their activity, similar to London consumers. The research incorporated four global brands (H&M, Victoria’s Secret, Topshop and Zara) in seven countries including Australia.  

With the line between online and offline continuing to blur, Blis A/NZ MD, Nick Ballard, said the analytics tool and study are about providing learnings and giving marketers and brands a holistic view of the consumer that can be applied to future campaigns.

“Lessons segmented by creative, line item and audience be feed back into the planning cycle to help marketers make the most of movement data and drive incremental gains for efficiency and effectiveness,” he said.

Sprout acquires Simply Measured

Social media management vendor, Sprout, has acquired Simply Measured to build its digital analytics clout.

Simply Measured is a full-funnel analytics business founded in 2010 in Seattle, US with clients including Adidas, Edelman and Nordstrom. As part of the deal, the two teams will work to integrate the two platforms under one Sprout experience, the companies said in a statement. Both companies are official Twitter partners. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Bringing Simply Measured into Sprout’s portfolio is a pivotal moment for us and our valued customers,” said Sprout Social CEO and co-founder, Justyn Howard, adding the deal will help Sprout realise its ambition of being the leading social analytics and listening provider. “We’ve long admired Simply Measured and its approach to technology and innovation.”

Sprout Social offers social media management, analytics and advocacy to agencies and brands including Hyatt, GrubHub, Microsoft, Uber and Zendesk. Together, the two companies boast of more than 21,000 brand clients globally.

Amobee pushes for better brand safety

Digital advertising management vendor, Amobee, is looking to up the ante with a new Inventory Accountability Program based on brand safety technology that promises to refund advertisers for inventory exposed inappropriately.

The brand safety offering is based on an early detection system that taps technology from DoubleVerify and partnership integrations to try and eliminate fraudulent digital advertising activity from reaching the Amobee platform and its DSP customers. It’s also using diagnostic tools to automatically identify suspicious activity, post-bid monitoring using more than 90 metrics, and inventory targeting tools.

The company also claims to be one of the first DSPs to be blocking fraudulent mobile apps, as well as multiple goal optimisation based on key performance indicators and a viewability algorithm to improve campaign management.

So far, 15 of Amobee’s exchange partners, including OpenX, Telaria and Index Exchange, have joined the new Inventory Accountability Program and provide fraud accountability as well as issue refunds. Amobee is also offering a refund program if invalid traffic, bot fraud or site fraud occurs and has signed up to the IAB’s ads.txt initiative.  

Brand safety and ensuring fraud prevention are two of the biggest challenges facing marketers today, Amobee chief client officer, Katie Ford, said. Amobee is wholly owned by SingTel.  

“This long-term, advanced brand safety initiative ensures Amobee is able to align brand and agency clients with the highest quality inventory to support campaign objectives by delivering ads that are in view and seen by a real audience in a brand safe environment,” she said.  

AdRoll culls Aussie presence  

Adtech player, AdRoll, has reportedly cut more than 20 staff across the Asia-Pacific region including its local managing director, Ben Sharp, following the appointment of new global CEO, Toby Gabriner.  

In a statement, the company said the restructuring directly impacted 5 per cent of total employees and specifically across the Asia-Pacific offices, with account management and marketing roles among those cut regionally. Gabriner said it instead plans to invest in growing the sales team globally as well as its R&D team by 25 per cent year-on-year.  

“When we met as an executive team to chart our course for 2018, we developed an operational plan to focus our team on our bold new vision. It meant making some tough decisions to reduce investment in areas not aligned with that vision so that we can accelerate investment in areas that are,” Gabriner said. “Today we are saying goodbye to some talented people who have played an important role in our success to date.  

Gabriner highlighted “record revenues” in 2017 and said the restructure was about setting up the business for success in the longer-term.  

“We are continuing to support the APAC markets, and our customers there, with on-the-ground teams,” he stated. “Additionally, we have goals to grow our sales team globally, aligned with our vision, as well as our R&D team by 25 per cent year-over-year as we double down on technological innovations that give our customers the best products they need to grow.”  

Dataxu debuts Open AI for Ads Initiative  

Dataxu has taken the wrappers off the Open AI for Ads initiative, which brings together its DSP plus AI and an algorithm powered by Oracle Data Cloud for improving campaign performance.  

The vendor claims its solution is a new approach to driving marketing outcomes by using artificial intelligence. Open AI for Ads can be powered by third-party data sets as well as by custom first-party insights and is based on giving users customised algorithms that help with campaign management.  

Users plug their consumer research into the real-time decision system to action insights. Dataxu partnered with Oracle Data Cloud to develop the first partner solution and algorithm. This automatically maps a brand’s first-party data to Oracle Data Cloud’s data set to identify consumers and behaviour patterns likely to engage with that brand. The algorithm then automatically adjusts DSP targeting and bidding strategies to optimise campaign performance.  

The vendor claimed that when it ran the solution across several campaigns with Team One, one client saw engagement increase by 18 per cent.  

“Open AI for Ads gives our agency customers a powerful new capability that leverages AI and software automation to meet marketer needs,” Dataxu CEO and co-founder, Michael K. Baker, said. “It enables advertising teams to easily codify the insights in their data to create a powerful, proprietary programmatic buying solution.”  

The vendor plans on rolling out additional partners with their own proprietary data sets in coming months.  

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