CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 4 March 2021

All the latest martech, customer and adtech news from Sitecore, Nielsen, Cision, MetaCX, Flashtalking, BrandMaker, Highspot and Creatio

Sitecore splurges on two acquisitions  

Fresh off raising US$1.2 billion in investment, Sitecore has purchased both a customer data platform provider as well as a headless ecommerce solution to add to its portfolio.  

The digital experience platform provider has acquired Boxever, a SaaS-based CDP provider. The vendor’s key capabilities are all in the name of providing a more 360-degree view of customers and include advanced segmentation, real-time decisioning and experimentation. Sitecore said the additional functionality would expand and enhance its customer intelligence and AI-driven personalisation tools    

The second acquisition is Four51, a company focused on delivering B2B and B2C ecommerce experiences for enterprise brands. Its latest offering is an API-first, headless ecommerce solution for deliver online shopping experiences. The platform will complement Sitecore’s existing B2C commerce capabilities.  

The acquisitions are expected to close before the end of March 2021 and financial terms are not being disclosed. Once done, CEOs from both companies will take on leadership roles and Sitecore said it expected to invest and grow both Boxever's Dublin and Four51’s Minneapolis headquarters.  

The acquisitions follow a US$1.2 billion investment plan announced earlier this year to fund aggressive growth plans and product innovation.  

“Our mission is to disrupt the digital experience market and these acquisitions will extend our leadership position,” Sitecore CEO, Steve Tzikakis, said. “Sitecore’s innovative digital experience platform spanning content-to-commerce provides companies with the flexibility and agility necessary to keep pace with changing demands ensuring they seize the digital opportunity to strengthen consumer connections.”      

Nielsen launches cookieless attribution system

Nielsen is rolling out its ID resolution system for global attribution measurement using people-based identifiers for attribution.

The ID resolution system utilises persistent, device-agnostic identifiers, enabling Nielsen to verify demographic characteristics and media exposure over time across all media.

As part of this rollout, Nielsen is introducing the Identity Sync, the industry’s first non-campaign specific tag that doesn’t depend on device IDs or the browser ecosystem. This enables always-on, real-time collection of advertiser data associated with individuals, the devices they use over time and the online actions they take. In addition, it allows Nielsen to build deterministic matches between consumers and their ad exposures using persistent identifiers as the connector to each conversion event.

Cision acquires Brandwatch

Cision has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Brandwatch, a digital consumer intelligence and social media listening outfit, for US$450 million.

The deal will see the two bring together complementary capabilities for PR, marketing and digital customer intelligence. Cision is a news distribution and media monitoring and analysis service with a media contact database of approximately 1 million journalists and media outlets and over 75,000 customers. Brandwatch works with thousands of the world's most admired brands, using the latest in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to bring structure to and derive meaning from the voices of the billions of people using social media.

Together, they will provide brands and organisations with consumer and media intelligence to devise more effective customer engagement strategies from PR and marketing to research and product development.

"The continued digital shift and widespread adoption of social media is rapidly and fundamentally changing how brands and organisations engage with their customers," said Cision CEO, Abel Clark. "This is driving the imperative that PR, marketing, social and customer care teams fully incorporate the unique insights now available into consumer-led strategies. Together, Cision and Brandwatch will help our clients to more deeply understand, connect and engage with their customers at scale across every channel."

MetaCX launches CXLayer

MetaCX, a B2B ecosystem management vendor, today announced CXLayer, an industry-first capability that allows MetaCX success plans to be embedded directly into any SaaS application or digital experience.

Making value realisation insights and proof of performance data a visible and differentiating part of the product experience, the vendor said the latest enhancement delivers on a major component of the three-part integration plan the company announced last month.

CXLayer can be used as an embedded layer for SaaS companies to drive more engagement with their users and improve customer retention. This allows users to manage the customer relationship directly in any portal, website or internal app, but is also a standalone collaborative customer experience tool for companies that don't have a SaaS product or an existing digital experience to extend.

Flashtalking acquires Protected Media

Flashtalking, a global platform focused on ad management, data-driven creative and unified insights, has acquired anti-fraud innovator, Protected Media. Financial terms have not been disclosed.

The deal will enable Flashtalking to offer fraud detection and viewability services globally across desktop, mobile Web, in-app, CTV/OTT, and fill any verification gaps. Flashtalking and Protected Media can provide accelerated speed to market for verification set-up and management by eliminating the manual workflow; bundle verification services to reduce the administrative of managing multiple vendor relationships; and offer MRC accreditation for OTT invalid traffic detection and filtration.

“The marketplace knows that Flashtalking is wholly committed to quality in all channels and on all platforms where we support and serve our clients. That’s who we are at our core,” said Flashtalking CEO, John Nardone. “This incredibly beneficial acquisition signals we are all-in on combating ad fraud, from the most powerful position to do so at scale.”

Highspot Raises US$200 million

There’s been a rash of funding announcements this week. One of the largest is into Highspot, the unified sales enablement platform, which has closed US$200 million in Series E funding led by Tiger Global Management, with participation from Bain & Company.

The round included all existing investors, ICONIQ Growth, Madrona Venture Group, OpenView, Salesforce Ventures, Sapphire Ventures and Shasta Ventures, and values the company at US$2.3 billion.

The new funding will further accelerate platform development, including deeper insights into go-to-market strategy and execution offered through Highspot’s industry-only Scorecards. With this funding, the company also plans to expand and deepen investments in its technology partner ecosystem, including more than 100 integrations with the sales, marketing and business software.

Creatio raises US$69 million

Creatio, which specialises in low-code platform for process management and CRM, has also announced a US$68 million capital raise led by Volition Capital, with participation from Horizon Capital.

The funding is a minority investment to fuel the company’s growth, with Creatio’s strategy, leadership team, product vision and commitment to customer success remaining unchanged.

Creatio is focused on helping mid-size to large enterprises automate customer-facing and operational processes at speed and scale. The company focuses on 24 verticals including financial services, manufacturing, professional services and others.

BrandMaker secures Rubicon investment

BrandMaker, which specialises in marketing operations and resource management solutions, has secured a strategic majority investment from Rubicon Technology Partners.

BrandMaker's pitch is providing a single, integrated SaaS platform to manage, simplify, optimise and automate the entire marketing value chain. Tools are designed to help with collaboration, visibility and agility across marketing operations, and provide the ability to manage, measure and continually improve marketing return-on-investment.

BrandMaker has more 300 global clients including Best Buy, Bayer, Daimler, and Avantor, addressing use cases related to budgeting and spend management, campaign orchestration and planning, brand management and content management.

The exact investment figure has not been disclosed. Rubicon is an investment firm focused on enterprise workflow management technologies.

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