CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 28 April 2022

All the latest martech and adtech news from impact.com, Freshworks, HubSpot, Humanitix, GupShup, Qualtrics, InfoSum, Databricks and ON24.

Impact.com secures US$100 million investment

Partner management platform, impact.com, has confirmed a strategic secondary investment of approximately US$100 million from W Capital Partners and Providence Public.

The company said the investment injection will allow it to broaden its investor base, continue its strong momentum, and further solidify a leading position and expertise within the partnership economy.

Impact.com’s platform provides partnership management tools to help publishers, brands and agencies aggregate, orchestrate and optimise partnerships with influencers and creators, traditional affiliate rewards publishers, commerce content publishers and B2B companies. It’s used by more than 2000 brands including Booktopia, L’Oreal, Uber and Lenovo.

“The interest, excitement and support of both W Capital and Providence Public as strategic investors speaks to impact.com’s continued momentum in driving the partnership economy forward,” said impact.com CEO, David A Yovanno. “The partnership ecosystem is thriving and we will continue to challenge ourselves to innovate and provide leading solutions that drive revenue and growth for our clients and partners.”

The announcement follows impact.com’s recent acquisition of Pressboard Media, an analytics and reporting platform for branded content.

Freshworks launches unified CRM for ecommerce

Freshworks has debuted a new CRM solution providing unified customer record management across conversational marketing, sales and customer support.

The latest CRM offering is targeted at ecommerce companies and direct-to-consumer market. Its aim is to help employees engage buyers directly through messaging channels including social, WhatsApp and SMS, as well as live chat and artificial intelligence (AI) powered chatbots, backed by consolidated data insights. Use cases include automating and personalising messages and providing real-time and proactive customer support digitally.

Freshworks CRM for ecommerce is modular and built on the Freshworks Neo platform, the vendor’s unified data approach.

Specific functionality includes new ‘Multichannel Engagement Journeys’ to help marketers create customer profiles and run segmented marketing campaigns based on purchasing behaviour across email, chatbots, SMS, WhatsApp, and social platforms. There are also out-of-the-box chatbot templates for ecommerce and order information available in the Agent Inbox to help support teams personalise messaging and generate cart abandonment prompts within the Freshworks platform.

Tracking is another feature and Freshworks said insights sync contacts, purchase history and relevant data between ecommerce platforms and Freshworks’ marketing automation solution.

Qualtrics pitches new Social Connect

A second vendor focused on unification, this time in the form of an all-in-one inbox for understanding, segmenting and responding to everything customers say across social media, messaging apps, email and text, is Qualtrics.

The company has taken the wrappers off Qualtrics Social Connect, a digital customer service and social listening solution for contact centres, marketers and customer experience teams. The platform is designed to help capture, analyse and respond to customer service requests received through chat, email and social media, as well as provide tools to automated chat responses off the back of social trends and real-time customer sentiment and intent. It does this by integrating with Qualtrics’ XM Discover natural language capabilities.  

A use case example would be service teams using Qualtrics Social Connect to generate automated responses to common questions. When a personal response is required, the platform automatically categorises and tags chat topics to route them to the correct support agents. Conversations are all fed into and organised in a single inbox.

Social Connect is available now and already being used by more than 300 customers, Qualtrics said.

Data collaboration platform expands A/NZ presence

Infosum, a data collaboration platform vendor that promises to connect data without moving it, has appointed Richard Knott as its general manager for Australia and New Zealand as it steps up its presence in the region.

InfoSum was founded in 2016 with the ambition of connecting data without the need to share it. The company has multiple patents to protect what it calls its ‘non-movement of data’ approach, based around data clean room technology.

InfoSum is based in the US, UK and Europe. The company’s reach into A/NZ comes off the back of US$65 million in Series B investment in August 2021 and a rapidly expanding client base including Disney, Experian, Omnicom and Axel Springer.

Knott’s remit is to lead the business in the region, grow the team and fuel growth. He comes with more than 25 years’ experience in the media and marketing space, including 13 years in the data and technology industry with the likes of Quantcast, Celtra and InMobi.

“Australia is an innovative market with highly skilled and discerning operators of the best technology on the edge of a shift in data privacy,” said InfoSum chairman and CEO, Brian Lesser. “We are thrilled about Rick joining InfoSum. With him, we have an experienced thought leader and executive leading on the ground in Australia and New Zealand.”

Knott privacy regulations such as the Online Privacy Bill and the extinction of the third-party cookie transforming consumer data use are reshaping consumer data use.

“The non-movement of data approach enables companies to future-proof their business and be ready for any privacy regulation, by eliminating the need to move data. I am thrilled to join the team to lead our work with top brands, publishers and agencies to equip and enable them all to successfully navigate the ever-changing data and identity landscape with a technology that will drive exceptional results for the whole ecosystem,” he said.

HubSpot and Humanitix partner up

HubSpot and Humanitix have struck a new partnership uniting their CRM and ticketing platform technologies in order to improve customer journey visibility and management.

Under the new integration, which leverages custom objects, event organisers using Humanitix can synchronise their contacts, collect new leads and track existing registrations throughout the customer journey via HubSpot’s platform. The two companies said the partnership will streamline the ticketing process by providing a single source of truth across the attendee and guest experience.

The Humanitix integration follows a number of integration partnerships between HubSpot and Australian and New Zealand companies including Canva, Envato, MessageMedia and Xero. It also comes after HubSpot celebrated its 1000 integration milestone earlier this year across an ecosystem of third-party tech partners.

Humanitix’s ticketing platform is designed with social impact in mind, ensuring booking fees on ticketing are channelled directly through to childrens’ charities.

“The integration with HubSpot is game changing for us. Not only will it allow our partners to seamlessly synchronise customer data across both platforms, but it will also free them up to provide a level of customer service unmatched in the event ticketing industry - not just in Australia, but globally,” Humanitix CEO and co-founder, Adam McCurdie, said.

ON24 acquires cloud video software company, Vibbio

Our first acquisition announcement this week is from virtual event platform provider, ON24, which has purchased Scandinavian cloud video software company, Vibbio, for an undisclosed sum.

According to the companies, the integration of Vibbio with the ON24 Platform will allow customers to create, edit, and reuse branded video content that engages audiences in new ways and delivers better personalised experiences. Vibbio provides editing tools that make it easier to create and edit professional videos.

Integration is planned for availability by the end of the year. ON24 said it has funded the deal from cash on the balance sheet and it didn’t expect any material impact on its financial results.

“We continue to invest in building the most powerful sales and marketing platform to engage audiences in new ways and deliver greater insights across the buyer journey,” ON24 founder and CEO, Sharat Sharan, said. “Vibbio will put video content creation in the hands of every salesperson and marketer to extend the life of their ON24 digital experiences and connect with audiences in multiple digital channels.”

Gupshup acquires another conversational AI platform

Just weeks after acquiring conversational AI player, Active.Ai, Gupshup has made a second acquisition in this space, picking up AskSid for an undisclosed sum.

The company said AskSid strengthens Gupshup’s AI-powered conversational solutions for ecommerce, retail and consumer goods industries. AskSid’s full-stack AI solution includes its Retail AI ‘brain’, which aims to make the entire shopping journey from pre-purchase to post-purchase phases fully conversational.

AskSid is headquartered in Bengaluru and has a client list including AkzoNobel, Danone, Wolford, Akris and Himalaya Wellness. The tech startup has operations in 25 countries and supports over 100 languages. It claims to have automated 92 per cent of support conversations with a self-service model, giving its clients an average 25 per cent reduction in operational expenditure, while boosting order conversion rate by 30 per cent. 

AskSid’s angel investors include technology leaders Rajan Anandan (ex-Google), Krishnakumar Natarajan (ex-Mindtree), Parthasarathy NS (ex-Mindtree) and Radha R (ex-Microsoft and Mindtree). The AI startup is also backed by Techstars, a global seed accelerator that mentors some of the world’s most successful startups. 

“Conversational commerce is about to transform shopping, both online and offline. Gupshup is building the most comprehensive conversational commerce solution and AskSid’s deep-domain AI offering will help us bring even more advanced capabilities to ecommerce and retail businesses worldwide,” said GupShup co-founder and CEO, Beerud Sheth.

Databricks’ new offering pitched at media and entertainment industries

Databricks has released a new Lakehouse for Media and Entertainment sectors, with early support from AWS, Cognizant, Fivetran, Labelbox and Lovelytics.

The data and AI company said the new Lakehouse offering will enable organisations across the media ecosystem to deliver better data and AI outcomes for consumers, advertisers and media partners with a single and collaborative platform for data, analytics and AI. Early adopters include Acxiom, Warner Bros. Discovery and SEGA.

The Lakehouse for Media and Entertainment incorporates data solutions and use-case accelerators for industry use cases like AI-driven recommendation engines, customer lifetime value models based on spending patterns and retention, churn, quality of experience, community toxicity analysis and advertising optimisation. There’s also toxicity detection for gaming using natural language processing across in-game user comments and chats.

In addition, the platform supports real-time analytics, business intelligence (BI), and brings AI capabilities across all data types including images, video and other unstructured data. Partners, such as AWS and Cognizant, are building complementary industry solutions to tie into the Lakehouse platform.

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