CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 January 2022

All the latest martech and adtech news from Dynamic Yield, Optimizely, Smartly.io, Xandr, Rokt, GumGum, Dialpad and Exotel


Mastercard acquires Dynamic Yield from McDonalds

Mastercard and McDonald’s have struck a deal that sees the payments provider acquiring the QSR’s personalisation technology company, Dynamic Yield.

Announced just before the end of 2021, the acquisition will see McDonald's continuing to scale and integrate the technology to further enhance customer experiences, while bringing Dynamic Yield’s technology into Mastercard’s existing suite of services.

In a statement, Mastercard said Dynamic Yield’s product recommendations, offers and content capabilities across online and offline channels would be used to help customers and partners improve personalised experiences based on a wider array of commerce data sets. Mastercard also recently acquired SessionM’s loyalty platform and test-and-learn software to support these aims.

The company said it also plans to create a unified consumer engagement and loyalty hub to further extend the value of Mastercard’s network to deliver digital services for payments.

Dynamic Yield’s platform uses advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies and is employed by more than 400 brands. The company was acquired by McDonalds in March 2019 and has reportedly doubled its revenue and expanded its customer base across verticals since then.

The technology has so far been deployed to McDonald’s drive-thrus and ordering kiosks in several markets. McDonald’s said it plans to further scale and integrate the capabilities globally and across ordering channels.

“The notion of going into a store or opening a webpage to find an experience perfectly tailored to you is no longer farfetched. It’s a reality that more brands are deploying and more consumers expect. With Dynamic Yield’s expertise and our scale and relationships, we’ll be able to bring the connections between the end consumer and our customers to new heights,” said Mastercard president of data and services, Raj Seshadri.

The transaction is anticipated to close in the first half of 2022, when chief technology officer, Ori Bauer, will take the helm as CEO. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Optimizely debuts integrated B2B commerce and content solution

Digital experience platform vendor, Optimizely, recently took the wrappers off an integrated version of its B2B Commerce Cloud and Content Cloud products.

According to the company, the integration allows these two products to be more easily implemented together, enabling brands to reach audiences with more sophisticated content strategies and work more effectively across large teams of marketers. The integration has been achieved thanks to the headless commerce APIs included with B2B Commerce Cloud.

Specifically, users of both cloud-based platforms can now access B2B-specific features within the B2B Commerce Cloud directly, use Content Cloud to manage all pages, templates, content and assets on their sites, tap into a combined site search engine that searches products in the B2B Commerce catalogue while also searching content in the Content Cloud, and manage their product catalogue in B2B Commerce but have all products available for use in the Content Cloud.

There’s also the ability to manage multi-sites in the Content Cloud while leveraging shared data for customers, products and orders in the B2B Commerce Cloud.

AT&T offloads Xandr to Microsoft

Microsoft has become the new owner of global programmatic marketplace, Xander, after its former parent, AT&T, signed off on the deal.

According to the two companies, the agreement builds on a decade-long relationship between Xandr, including its predecessor companies, and Microsoft for delivering global digital media solutions for advertisers. The pair said the post-cookie world presents fresh opportunity for Microsoft and Xandr to shape the digital ad marketplace.

Microsoft said Xandr's technology strategically complements its advertising offerings and will help accelerate delivery of digital advertising and retail media solutions for the open Web by combining Microsoft's audience intelligence, technology and global advertising customer-base with Xandr's scaled and data-driven platform.

“With Xandr's talent and technology, Microsoft can accelerate the delivery of its digital advertising and retail media solutions, shaping tomorrow's digital ad marketplace into one that respects consumer privacy preferences, understands publishers' relationships with consumers and helps advertisers meet their goals,” said Microsoft president of Web experiences, Mikhail Parakhin.

The transaction is subject to closing conditions, including regulatory reviews.

Rokt Secures $US325 million

Rokt has seen its company valuation hit US$1.95 billion after securing $325 million in a Series E funding round led by Tiger Global.

The tech unicorn plans to use the new funding to invest in R&D, international expansion and strategic acquisitions. Other participants in the round included Wellington Management, Whale Rock Capital Management, Pavilion Capital and existing shareholder Square Peg.

Rokt works with more than 3000 brands globally including Live Nation, Groupon, Staples, Wayfair, Fanatics, Vistaprint and Ticketmaster and said demand for more ecommerce capabilities is furthering its growth trajectory.

“Customers are demanding a more relevant ecommerce experience and businesses need to ensure they have the right economics to be able to grow,” Rokt CE, Bruce Buchanan, said. “Our technology solves these two problems by optimising every element of the transaction moment, both for relevancy and value for each individual customer, enabling digital businesses to remove irrelevant clutter and double their profitability. We're thrilled to partner with Tiger Global and the rest of this prestigious group of investors to accelerate our product development and global expansion efforts and enable more partners to boost their profitability, connect brands to new customers, and deepen engagement and loyalty.”

GumGum acquires attention measurement and optimisation platform

Digital advertising facilitator, GumGum, has acquired Playground xyz for an undisclosed sum. It claims the deal makes it one of the first companies to offer creative, context and attention measurement in one platform.  

GumGum provides contextual intelligence solutions for digital media. The acquisition of global attention-based advertising platform, Playground xyz, will allow GumGum to provide advertisers with the ability to measure the attention of their contextually driven campaigns without the use of personal data, the company said. The deal was done using a mix of cash and stock and is expected to be immediately accretive.

“In a future without the cookie or personal data, we believe that digital advertising will come down to capturing the consumer’s mindset through a combination of creative, context, and consumer attention,” said GumGum CEO, Phil Schraeder. “Each is independently important, but together make up The Mindset Matrix, which will be key to understanding and optimizing campaigns of the future.”

Playground xyz has an AI technology that uses eye-tracking to measure and optimise advertising based on attention, or how long an ad is actually looked at in seconds. The company was founded in Australia six years ago.

Off the back of the deal, GumGum is also expanding its global footprint with six new offices in APAC. Playground xyz CEO, Rob Hall, will now lead GumGum attention products as global president, attention intelligence platform. 

Read more: Is contextual marketing the answer to the end of third-party cookies?

Dialpad raises US$170 million

Also gaining further capital this past month is communication platform vendor, Dialpad. The company has just raised US$170 million, bringing its company valuation to $2.2 billion.

Dialpad offers an AI-powered communications, collaboration and contact centre platform. The latest investment is earmarked for innovations in AI, accessibility, staff hires and customer experience. Round participants included Amasia, GV, Omers Growth Equity and T-Mobile Ventures. To date, Dialpad has raised $418 million.  

“This latest round of funding, and our increased valuation, showcases Dialpad’s continued momentum and strengthens our dedication to helping companies scale and enterprises thrive in today’s hybrid, work-from-anywhere world,” Dialpad founder and CEO, Craig Walker, said.

Smartly.io scoops up Ad-Lib.io

Social advertising vendor, Smartly.io, has acquired Ad-Lib.io, a creative optimisation platform, for an undisclosed sum.

The company said the deal advances Smartly.io’s cross-channel reach from social to now also include dynamic creative optimisation tools across programmatic advertising, CTV and the wider Google advertising ecosystem including YouTube, DV360 and Google Ad campaigns.

“The past two years have proven that creative technology has become the most important lever for driving digital advertising performance,” said Smartly.io CEO and co-founder, Kristo Ovaska. “Ad-Lib.io is a clear leader in the creative space by innovating on the mission-critical dimensions of workflow, automation, brand governance, personalisation and insight. The company’s knowledge of the Google stack is unmatched in the industry and combining that with Smartly.io’s deep understanding of Facebook and the social stack across creative, media and data allows us to now serve customers across all major digital channels.”

Ad-Lib.io is a Google Certified Creative partner and works with 10 of the top 30 global advertisers. Smartly.io partners with major social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and TikTok and has more than 700 major advertiser customers globally.

Exotel raises US$40 million

Customer engagement platform startup, Exotel, is the third company in this week’s round-up to secure a solid investment injection.

The India-based company has raised US$40 million in Series D funding in a round led by Steadview Capital. This brings total investment into the company to $100 million and follows a $35m fundraising round less than six months ago. It also comes after the group merged with contact centre platform vendor, Ameyo, as well as acquired AI conversational platform provider, Cogno, in 2021.

Reports stated the latest funds will be used to invest more into the Middle East and Southeast Asia markets, plus potential acquisitions that bring more omnichannel and full stack capabilities into the platform.

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