CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 27 January 2022

All the latest martech and adtech news from Medallia, Thunderhead, Precisely, PlaceIQ, StackCommerce, BrandCycle, Audience Serve, Emailbidding, Thoughtleaders, Livewire, Anzu, Capacity and Taboola

Medallia to acquire Thunderhead

Medallia is acquiring Thunderhead, a technology player focused on customer interaction and journey orchestration, for an undisclosed sum.

The CX tech vendor said the combination of customer experience insights and journey orchestration is aimed at giving clients a single view of the customer journey, using real-time interactions to improve experiences and loyalty. Specifically, Thunderhead is expected to strengthen Medallia’s ability to power individualised journeys and conversations at scale, across online and offline channels.

Medallia’s Experience Cloud captures signals across interactions including all voice, video, digital, IoT, social media and corporate messaging tools then uses proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to reveal predictive insights.

The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this fiscal year. Thunderhead clients include Bosch and EnBW, while Medallia’s include PayPal, Hilton and The Lego Group.  

“This latest acquisition is targeted at the needs of the most pioneering enterprise companies who are looking for new ways to make customers feel known, no matter where they are interacting,” said Medallia CEO, Leslie Stretch. “The combination of Medallia Experience Cloud and Thunderhead’s open technology for real-time interaction delivers feedback-driven personalisation on a massive scale. Thunderhead’s journey orchestration capability ensures every enterprise can make the most of feedback data to shape their product and service offerings, customer journeys and experiences.”

Precisely locates next vendor purchase

Our second acquisition this week is by Precisely, a data integrity software firm, which has struck an agreement to purchase PlaceIQ, a data and technology provider focused on marketing and line-of-business users.

According to Precisely (formerly Syncsort), the acquisition of New York-based PlaceIQ strengthens its data integrity portfolio with location data for advertising, measurement and attribution. It also brings with it new data management capabilities for governance and enrichment. Precisely offers geo-location products such as demographic and mapping data.

PlaceIQ is Precisely’s fifth add-on acquisition in less than a year and comes after Clearlake and TA closed their Precisely transaction. Financial terms for the latest purchase have not been disclosed.

“Precisely offers a unique combination of software and data solutions to help companies achieve data integrity and improve decision making,” said Precisely CEO, Josh Rogers. “The addition of PlaceIQ’s location data to our portfolio deepens that value proposition by providing our customers with market-leading data on consumer behaviour.”

StackCommerce buys BrandCycle

Commerce and content vendor, StackCommerce, also joins our acquisition ranks this week after picking up influencer marketing player, BrandCycle.

StackCommerce said the deal brings with it hundreds of relationships with major global retailers and thousands of influencers to expand its publisher and merchant services. BrandCycle works in the affiliate management space offerings product recommendation influencers a content monetisation platform to connect with publishers, retailers and brands. The company has more than 500 global retail and brands partnerships with the likes of Macy’s Under Armour and Etsy. Over the last year, it claims to have increased influencers by 50 per cent.

For publishers and influencers, StackCommerce aims to provide a holistic commerce content solution with white-label marketplaces, exclusive high-margin digital offers and best-of-Web affiliate commission rates. For retailers and brands, the acquisition offers increased reach to engaged communities through social platforms, creator content and newsletters, the company said. And for consumers, StackCommerce said it can now surface more relevant products and household-name brands on the platforms where they’re already consuming media.

“The synergy between what BrandCycle and StackCommerce offer to different types of content creators and merchants is just one of the reasons we’re so excited to join the team at Stack,” said BrandCycle co-founder and president, Lindsay Hittman.

StackCommerce COO, Karl House, highlighted BrandCycle’s team, skills and knowledge as a key complement to its business. “Through our newly combined offering, publishers and influencers can now bring their audiences the most curated offers from the best brands in the world, all shared through the vehicle of content.”

Audience Serv buys email marketing marketplace

Audience Serv, an international customer acquisition and lead generation specialist, is our fourth acquiror this week.

The German-based company has bought Emailbidding, an email marketing marketplace based in Porto. Emailbidding was created and developed within Impacting Group, a holding for digital businesses. Audience Serv said the acquisition brings together more than 21 years of experience, worldwide operations and more than 130 million subscribers.

Ten-year-old Emailbidding provides a Web-based self-service platform that enables advertisers and agencies to acquire new customers via email. The platform offers self-service but also managed service for campaign management, including reporting and optimisation. Its focus is on a ‘bidding model’ which automatically matches campaigns to the most relevant users.

The companies said the similar solution approaches of Audience Serv and Emailbidding promises great potential for further business growth. Under the terms of the deal, Emailbidding’s team will remain in place.

“Audience Serv and Emailbidding are striving to make B2C customer acquisition via email as easy and effective as possible. Therefore, we are very happy to drive our innovative email marketing platform with Audience Serv’s power and support,” said Emailbidding CEO, Ana Cunha.

ThoughtLeaders aims to match YouTube ads to relevant videos

Israel-based ThoughtLeaders is pitching a new AI-driven tool it says will help advertisers better contextually target YouTube ads.

The adtech vendor’s history is in working with brands to gain insight on longform content and find creators to partner with on sponsorship deals, ensuring more contextual relevance for an advertiser’s messaging. The new tool similarly aims to deliver a non-intrusive method for programmatically advertising to YouTube viewers based on the content they are consciously choosing to watch, rather than demographics or browsing history.

To do this, ad buyers enter topics or phrases they want to target. The platform then harnesses natural language processing to analyse video content and identify the relevant sources. The list of relevant videos is exported to YouTube and applied when targeting an ad campaign, limiting the ad to only play on those specific videos with matching content.

“For example, a fast-food chain that is promoting a new plant-based burger can advertise on videos that mention ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ in the content,” ThoughtLeaders CEO and co-founder, David Tintner explained.

The paradox of digital advertising arises from a combination of privacy-violating tracking and ads appearing alongside unrelated content, he continued.

“When the ad is irrelevant, it’s a nuisance and when it is relevant to the viewer it’s creepy because they feel they’re being watched,” Tinter said. “This highlights the need to ensure that ads reach the correct people, but more importantly, are shown in the correct context, all while not infringing on privacy with invasive tracking.”

Anzu and Livewire partner to help APAC advertisers reach the metaverse

In-game advertising platform, Anzu, has struck an exclusive partnership with Livewire to enable APAC advertisers to reach Roblox players via blended in-game advertising placements.

Livewire is a global gaming marketing and gametech company that creates integrated gaming marketing strategies. The partnership with Anzu will allow advertisers to run non-disruptive ads within many of Roblox’s most popular titles including All Star Tower Defense, Speed Run 4, Wacky Wizards and Weight Lifting Simulator.

Roblox is a global metaverse where players gather to create, share and play together in immersive worlds. As of January 2022, the platform claims to have over 40 million games and be reaching 9.4 million daily active users across APAC in Q3 2021. It also claims 110 million global active monthly users.

Among the solutions on offer to advertisers are display ads and gifs across multiple Roblox games in minutes, many of which are exclusive to Anzu. Custom integrations are also available, and Anzu clients get guaranteed viewable impressions, brand safety, detailed campaign reporting and brand lift measurement.

Explainer: What is the metaverse?

Capacity platform scores US$38m

Customer support automation platform, Capacity, has secured US$38 million in Series C funding to expand its workforce and product offering.

The latest investment round follows a $13.2m Series B funding round in August 2019 and brings total funding into the business to $62 million to date. Capacity was originally founded in 2017 as Jane.ai but rebranded in 2019. Its focus is on a platform that automates employee and helpdesk support capabilities and repetitive tasks when servicing customers as well as supports business operations.

Funds will be allocated to support new team members, enhance product capabilities and optimise Capacity’s support automation platform.

Taboola pitches personalised homepages

Taboola has taken the wrappers off ‘Homepage For You’ AI technology, which it claims will empower editors to make homepages as personalised and engaging as social apps.

The content recommendations vendor said Homepage For You supplements existing ability to own and curate their homepage experiences with a new AI layer that surfaces content readers might find more relevant and personalised to their interests. Taboola said the aim of the game is to allow publishers to continue to maintain editorial integrity and brand voice, while enabling readers to find more relevant content during a site visit.

Early partners using the capability include McClatchy, The Independent and Estado de Minas. In a beta test, Taboola claimed publishers saw a 30 per cent – 50 per cent increase in CTR for homepage sections personalised by Taboola. Homepage For You is part of Taboola Newsroom, an offering that takes its cues from a dataset of 500 million daily active users. It is also part of Taboola’s $US100 million annual investment in R&D.

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