CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 21 January 2021

All the latest martech, customer and adtech news from Sitecore, Salesforce, SalesLoft, Mailchimp, Pencil, InMoment, Kenshoo Analytics and Integral Ad Science.

Sitecore kicks off US$1.2 billion growth plan

Sitecore is claiming to have secured the largest-ever capital investment in the martech space to fuel fresh product innovation, more than double its market presence, expand its geographic footprint and enhance its global brand standing.

The digital experience management software company this week confirmed it’s locked in $1.2 billion in investment for a large-scale growth plan aimed at dominating the martech space.

“An investment of this magnitude in our industry is unprecedented,” said Sitecore CEO, Steve Tzikakis. “As companies and consumers search for more seamless ways to communicate, co-ordinate and collaborate during this momentous period, Sitecore’s investment will supercharge product innovation in order to better enable deeper and more engaging experiences across the entire customer journey.”

The investment injection comes as Sitecore celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. Founded in 2001, the vendor works with more than a third of the Fortune 100 and nearly half of the S&P Global 100. These include American Express, ASOS, Kimberly-Clark, L’Oreal and Volvo Cars.  

Salesforce pitches for loyalty

Salesforce has debuted a new Loyalty Management offering built off its Customer 360 platform aimed at helping companies across industries lift their loyalty game.

Loyalty Management is integrated with Salesforce Digital 360, Service Cloud and Tableau and aims to connect the dots on loyalty experiences across the customer journey. Key functionality includes the flexibility to create various types of loyalty offers such as tiered membership programs and point per purchase, as well as the ability to customise offers by customer type, market, experiences and amenities.

To do this, users can pull in data from across marketing interactions, purchase history and website visits to inform promotions and communications. In addition, loyalty program participation can be extended through Marketing Cloud and Customer 360 Audiences and linked to external systems such as a customer data platform via APIs and third-party solutions from the Salesforce AppExchange.

Another key capability is measuring program performance, member acquisition and engagement via a dashboard powered by Tableau CRM for Loyalty Management.

Loyalty Management will be generally available from February 2021. 

InMoment acquires Wootric

Experience management vendor, InMoment, has said its acquisition of digital feedback provider, Wootric, will help brands better tap into and harness their digital ‘in-the-moment’ signals from any interaction point to fuel engagement.

Wootric describes its offering as an always-on, micro-survey approach enabling organisations to quickly understand customer sentiment in key digital moments. It does this by combining behaviour-based micro surveys and self-service functionality complemented by a proprietary Eligibility Engine to help users set-up collection programs. The company has more than 1200 clients including brands such as Zoom, DocuSign, Comcast, HubSpot and GlassDoor.

“Wootric has built a really smart approach to the digital experience problem, and as a result they have become a market leader,” said InMoment CEO, Andrew Joiner. The acquisition accelerates InMoment’s efforts in the digital experience and product experience market, he said.

“The addition of Wootric technology into the XI Platform provides an exciting array of highly modern and scalable digital solutions that will help our clients lead in a new digital-first world,” Joiner said.

Under terms of the deal, Wootric employees will continue in their roles, while the company’s female co-founders, Deepa Subramanian and Jessica Pfeifer, will stay on to help accelerate InMoment’s digital solutions and digital commercial offerings. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Mailchimp snaps up SMS marketing platform provider

Our second acquisition news this week is Mailchimp, which has acquired Chatitive, a two-way SMS marketing platform using context to deliver personalised and conversational mobile messages direct to consumers.  

In a statement, Mailchimp said the deal enhances its all-in-one marketing and commerce platform offering aimed at helping small business customers reach their audience in new ways. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Chatitive’s offering is built on a user-friendly platform and aims to help customers quickly onboard and build relationships with end consumers through transactional and conversational mobile messaging. The company was founded in 2016 by Daniel Pirone, VP of engineering, under the startup incubator, Madrona Venture Labs. The company is based in Seattle, Washington, and led by CEO, Andy Hollenbeck, an experienced marketer and leader in the mobile space. Clients include Vivino, Universal Music Group, Burst Oral Care and Rover.

Hollenbeck now joins Mailchimp as head of conversational SMS, and Mailchimp said other team members will stay on in technology and customer focused roles. The team will continue operating under the Chatitive brand initially while also focusing on developing an offering for Mailchimp’s small business customers.

It’s one of a number of strategic acquisitions Mailchimp has made in the last two years. Others include automated design platform, Sawa, which was integrated into the wider stack as AI tool, Creative Assistant. Mailchimp also recently acquired survey platform, BigTeam, and AI content platform, Inspector 6.

Integral Ad Science ups payment transparency

Ad verification platform, Integral Ad Science (IAS), has also joined the list of companies acquiring this week, picking up programmatic advertising transparency provider, Amino Payments.

The decision to acquire Amino Payments comes nine months after IAS partnered with the business to launch Total Visibility. The solution offers advertisers impression-level financial insights and media quality verification to optimise campaigns in real-time.  

IAS CEO, Lisa Utzschneider, said the acquisition sees IAS accelerating its investments into programmatic transparency solutions. Under the deal, Total Visibility becomes the core IAS brand, and the Amino Payments brand will be retired. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.  

“Programmatic advertising continues to grow at a tremendous pace, and with this acquisition, we’re bringing comprehensive transparency to the entire industry,” Utzschneider commented. “By welcoming Amino Payments to IAS, we will unleash the full potential of programmatic advertising for marketers who need their campaigns to be highly effective and cost-efficient.”

Pencil draws up AI created online video ads

Pencil has launched its new Machine Generated Creative (MGC) platform, claiming it’s paving the way to learn from historic advertising to generate fresh creative ideas and deliver better brand results.

In its statement, Pencil said it is able to generate one new video ad concept per minute by leveraging proprietary algorithms for video generation and the OpenAI GPT-3 language model for copy generation. It’s also claiming that across more than 100 campaigns studied, Pencil ads outperformed existing creatives for brands, consistently delivering two-fold stronger results.

To achieve this, Pencil’s MGC video ads tap into dozens of creative parameters tracked and analysed through the Pencil platform including historic ad performance data. It can then generate new batches of ad ideas that share characteristics with past winners.

“Great ad campaigns are born from many creative ideas that are distilled down to a few. We are doing exactly this, extremely quickly, using AI,” Pencil CEO and co-founder, Will Hanschell, said. “In launching MGC, we want to bring speed, insights and new ideas to marketing teams who care about both the creativity and the results of their ads - that means all marketing teams.”

Pencil was founded in 2018 with a team from Google, Facebook and Uber and is backed by Sequoia, Wavemaker Partners, Singapore Innovate and Entrepreneur First.

SalesLoft Gains US$1.1bn valuation

A fresh US$100 million investment injection has seen the market value of sales engagement platform, SalesLoft, reach $1.1 billion.

secured a total of >span class="xn-money">$245 million in funding to date. The latest investment round was led by Owl Rock Capital with participation from Insight Partners, HarbourVest, and Emergence.

Over the past year, the company claims to have more than doubled recurring revenue in the growing sales engagement market, which has reportedly attracted nearly half a billion dollars in funding in the last six months. SalesLoft's customers include tech giants such as Google, LinkedIn, Slack, Shopify, Dell, and Cisco, as well as 3M, Cargill and S&P.

Recently, the vendor launched its Coach to Close offering, aimed at tackling three key areas of digital solution selling: Cadence, for building pipeline and managing customer communications; Conversations, for analysing call recording and meetings; and Deals, for managing opportunities.

SalesLoft said it will use the latest funding to expand into new vertical markets, improve AI/ML-driven insights and product innovation, and further international expansion.

Kenshoo acquires Signal Analytics to address digital acceleration

This week’s final acquisition mention is Kenshoo, which purchased AI configurable analytics platform, Signals Analytics, to lift its performance marketing insights capabilities.

Kenshoo said the acquisition positions the company to solve the biggest challenge brands face in the post-COVID-19 era: How to catch up with accelerated ecommerce adoption and be best positioned to understand, engage and transact with consumers regardless of channel. It’s hoping to do this by establishing a first-of-its-kind AI-powered platform that connects internal and external data sets to surface insights across the marketing value chain.

“Given the exponential growth we are experiencing in performance marketing, specifically around ecommerce, Kenshoo sees first-hand how brands make decisions to bring products to market online,” said Kenshoo CEO and co-founder, Yoav Izhar-Prato. “We looked for a powerful platform that best captured holistic consumer and market insights by connecting external data sets layered with cutting-edge, advanced analytics capabilities, and we found both in Signals Analytics.

“With a proven record in curating and augmenting external data and utilising unique assets in AI/ML to infuse decisions with relevant, actionable insights for very prestigious brands, the team wowed us.”

Short-term, the companies’ assets have been pooled to create a connected knowledge graph across brand, consumer, product, campaign, publisher and market data silos. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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