CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 14 January 2021

All the latest martech and adtech news this week from Retina, DoubleVerify, Hive9, Confirmit, Hootsuite, Verve, Khoros and Roblox

Hootsuite acquires Sparkcentral

Hootsuite has acquired Sparkcentral, a SaaS digital and social customer engagement platform that enables one-to-one conversational messaging through Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, WhatsApp, WeChat, SMS and Chat.

Sparkcentral works with brands including Air Canada, Slack, JetBlue, Axa and Careem. The core of Sparkcentral is an automated message distribution platform, complete with virtual agent functionality for efficient customer care workflow - enhancing channel alignment and communication orchestration between marketing, customer service departments and their stakeholders. 

“Our customers have been asking for more capabilities in the area of social customer care and we’re excited to expand our offering with this new acquisition," said Hootsuite CEO, Tom Keiser, CEO.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Retina launches AI-driven customer identification platform

Customer intelligence outfit, Retina, has announced  availability of Retina Insight, a customer lifetime value (CLV) enrichment platform that aims to help high-growth consumer brands improve targeting, ad relevance, conversion rates and customer loyalty.

Retina Insight claims to be the first platform to bring CLV insights to marketers before a customer’s first purchase, enabling them to optimise campaigns and ad spend for predictable and profitable revenue. Retina Insight also gives marketers actionable metrics including a customer’s future value, churn prediction, as well as high-value customer personas to determine lookalike audiences for campaigns that boost revenue.

DoubleVerify launches brand suitability tiers

DoubleVerify, a software platform for digital media measurement, data and analytics, has made brand suitability tiers generally available for advertisers and publishers.

Brand suitability tiers represents the next evolution of the company’s brand safety and suitability solution, and was first announced in November 2020.

Tiers offer 13 categories of content tiered by three levels of risk for advertisers. Content risk is determined by both content type and topic and lets brands exercise more refined avoidance strategies while preserving campaign scale; for example, advertising beside trusted news, while avoiding sensitive topics in unprofessional or UGC content. In total, DV clients will be able to take advantage of 89 unique brand safety and suitability settings, offering the most comprehensive and flexible coverage available in the market.

For publishers, there is access to data and insights to analyse inventory and optimise campaign performance relative to suitability - during and after the sales process. It provides a common language, helping demand and supply partners agree on transactions involving suitability requirements. This transparency enables better optimisation and inventory allocation, allowing publishers to maximise monetisation of their supply.

Hive9 introduces new advanced custom attributes

Hive9, a provider of software for marketing leaders to plan, measure and predict revenue from marketing, has announced availability of a suite of new features called Advanced Custom Attributes.

These features, available throughout Hive9's planning and purchase support modules, will enable customers to accommodate complex segmentation needs and a wider variety of use cases. These new capabilities make Hive9 a truly extensible platform, enabling customers to enjoy a customised experience, the vendor claimed.

Specifically, the list of new features includes attribute grouping and ordering, tooltips for data entry and interpretation, attribute dependencies identification, single versus multiple selection tools which can be chosen with separate weightings for performance and cost, the ability to hide attibutes and set up external link attributes and formulas for performing queries, maniulating text, executing logic and performing math of multiple attributes or standard fields.

Confirmit to merge with FocusVision

Confirmit has announced it intends to merge with FocusVision, a provider of customer insights technology. The merger is conditioned on receipt of regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2021.

Confirmit positions itself as a solutions provider that enables market research, customer experience and employee engagement teams to turn insights into action. The combined group is expected to create a one-stop-shop of complementary solutions that help improve benefits to end customers, and accelerate innovation and investment in technology solutions, data collection, analytics, reporting and action capabilities underpinned by a global professional services organisation.

The merger will also combine each company’s infrastructure and technology capabilities to maximise efficiencies and deliver opportunities through driving operational efficiencies and best in class product; and enable Confirmit and FocusVision to take advantage of complementary geographical footprint to better serve the expanded customer base. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Verve acquires Nexstar

In other acquisition news, Verve Group, global brand performance ad platform, has acquired Nexstar’s digital video advertising technology platform, formerly known as LKQD, for an undisclosed sum.

Nexstar’s platform connects publishers such as Samsung, Newsy and Viacom with advertisers and demand-side platforms globally, including The Trade Desk, Adobe and Amobee. The acquisition broadens Verve Group’s portfolio of advertising services, while also giving it unique access to CTV and OTT inventory - an area of rapid growth within the digital advertising ecosystem.

The digital video platform reaches over 200 million unique monthly users in the US across desktop, mobile, in-app and connected TV devices and provides Verve Group with sophisticated video advertising capabilities as it continues to scale its business following other acquisitions last year, including Verve, PubNative and Platform161.

Khoros buys Topbox

In another acquisition move, Khoros, which specialises in digital-first customer engagement software, has acquired enterprise customer experience (CX) analytics software maker, Topbox.

It has also closed additional equity investment from existing Khoros investors, including leading global technology investment firm Vista Equity Partners to help accelerate the company’s momentum in the CX market.

The acquisition of Topbox brings an innovative omnichannel CX analytics solution to Khoros’ award-winning digital customer engagement platform to create a new standard for artificial intelligence (AI)-powered customer experience management. Khoros with Topbox will deliver a comprehensive solution that provides a unified, actionable view of the customer and enables enterprises to create and deliver next-level customer engagement and experiences.

Roblox raises US$520 million

Roblox, a global online platform that strives to bring people together through play, has raised US$520 million in new Series H funding. The latest round was led by Altimeter Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group, the Investment Group of Santa Barbara and Warner Music Group, along with several current investors.

The Series H funding values the company at US$29.5 billion. Proceeds from the financing will advance Roblox’s growth initiatives and mission to build a human co-experience platform that enables shared experiences among billions of users.

“While once viewed as a gaming platform, Roblox has emerged as a definitive global community connecting millions of people through communication, entertainment and commerce,” commented Altimeter CEO, Brad Gerstner. “And as the world moves toward a hybrid future – where online and offline community and learning co-exist, we are proud to back a values-driven business that takes seriously its obligation to build an inclusive, creative, and positive community.”

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