CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 21 July 2022

All the latest martech and adtech news from Contentsquare, Oracle NetSuite, Sitecore, Optimove, Flip, Kentico, Verve Group and Forsta.

Contentsquare secures US$600m in investment

Digital experience analytics vendor, Contentsquare, has closed a US$600 million growth investment round, including $400 million in Series F equity and $200 million in debt financing.

The latest investment injection brings total company funding to $1.4 billion. The Series F investment was led by Sixth Street Growth, with participation from new and existing investors including Bpifrance, Canaan, Eurazeo, Highland Europe, KKR, LionTree, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. Many of Contentsquare’s other investors also participated in the round. And thanks to the investment, the company’s valuation has now doubled to $5.6 billion.

Contentsquare platform provides and artificial intelligence (AI)-powered engine to analyse trillions of digital customer interactions to surface critical insights that can help improve digital experiences.

The company said it plans to use the capital to scale investments in innovation, both organically and through M&A, support long-term growth in key markets, expand to new territories and deliver greater impact in areas such as digital accessibility, privacy and sustainability. Contentsquare has 1500 employees across 17 offices and more than 1 million customers across all verticals. It estimates its total addressable market (TAM) is worth $34 billion.

Among the many efforts to expand already include six acquisitions in the past three years to accelerate geographic, segment and product expansion; acceleration of multi-product strategy from one platform with five products; investment into its first cookieless analytics solution; and accelerated customer insights to analysing 3200 billion customer interactions monthly and $2.5 billion in transactions daily.

Sitecore Experience Manager Cloud now available

Sitecore has officially transitioned its core content management solution (CMS) to modern cloud architecture with the release of Sitecore Experience Manager (XM) Cloud.

The martech vendor said the latest product release will provide brands improved speed to market when implementing digital customer experiences, simplify design and deployment and eliminate upgrades. For example, XM Cloud offers users the ability to build digital experiences via a WYSIWIG authoring experience that can access content anywhere as well as embedded testing and personalisation, and integrated visitor analytics.

For developers, XM Cloud can be used with headless development techniques and will work with modern frontend frameworks and support all deployment scenarios. Other selling points Sitecore pointed to and continued innovation through new features and capabilities automatically delivered and integrated; set and forget traffic volume demands through elastic scaling; composability of platform purchasing; and multi-channel content management.

“Consumer behaviour has changed rapidly over the past two years. Audiences have become very digitally savvy and have an expectation from brands to deliver highly personalised customer experiences,” Sitecore chief product officer, Dave O’Flanagan, commented. “Sitecore XM Cloud provides marketers with a truly end-to-end, SaaS-based solution that not only helps brands meet consumer expectations but also deliver a best-of-class omnichannel customer experience.”

Optimove acquires real-time personalisation platform

Our first acquisition news item this week is from Optimove, which has purchased real-time personalisation platform, Graphyte, for an undisclosed sun.

Graphyte’s cloud-based personalisation platform is designed to help with optimising Web and mobile experience for consumers. It’s the second acquisition made by Optimove in less than six months and comes after the purchase of Kumulos, a mobile marketing platform for mobile messaging personalisation.

In a blog post, the company said its ambition is to provide a better, more comprehensive, flexible and capable CRM marketing platform. Optimove’s platform boasts of a customer data platform (CDP) core and unified historical, real-time and predictive customer data for building, testing, orchestrating and measuring CRM campaigns and journeys.

The company said Graphyte brings real-time content recommendations across any channel and touchpoint that it’ll add to its platform so marketers can create end-to-end personalisation on email, mobile push, app screen, website and other digital channels across all the customer journeys. Specifically, Optimove highlighted symmetric multi-channel journeys, geolocation triggered personalised recommendations, and an ability to overlay AI-based models with historical customer data.

“The acquisition was a natural next step in our evolution. It is part of Optimove’s relentless journey of empowering marketers to optimise customer data into deeper relationships, incremental sales, and loyalty at scale. It allows us to keep doing what we do best, but better,” Optimove founder and CEO, Pini Yakuel, said.

The acquisition is the fourth in Optimove’s history, a list that also includes the 2018 purchase of DynamicMail and 2020 acquisition of Axonite.

Kontent.ai spins out of Kentico

Kontent.ai, originally a division and startup within Kentico, has been spun out as a separate company thanks to a US$40 million investment injection.

The decision comes more than two years after Kentico split its company into two divisions: Kentico Xperience, its digital experience platform (DXP) offering; and Kontent by Kentico (headless CMS). According to Kentico, spinning out Kontent.ai will allow the Kentico Xperience platform to focus on its core roots. There are plans to support the business change with a refresh of the Kentico name.

Seven-year-old Kontent by Kentico has raised US$40 million from Expedition Growth Capital to help become a standalone enterprise.

“With the carve-out of Kontent.ai, we can truly focus on our DXP offering. It means that 100 per cent of our profit can now be fully reinvested in innovating our digital experience platform,” Kentico CEO, Dominik Pintér, said.

As part of the change, Kentico founder, Petr Palas, has moved to chairman of the Board for both companies.

“The investment that we as a company were putting into the Kontent by Kentico division will be redirected straight into the DXP you love,” Pintér told customers in a statement. “With heavy investment in product development, we’ve got an exciting journey ahead. We plan to hire at least 60 more people over the next 12 months to join our 160+ strong global team.

“As well as the additional investment that Kentico gains from the carve-out of Kontent, we have also received committed capital of $20 million from Expedition Growth Capital, which will facilitate future growth and the scalability of our company.”

Verve Group buys adtech company

Our second acquisition this week is by Verve Group, part of Media Games Invest. The company has acquired Dataseat, an advertising technology company that provides app developers with tools for managing in-house mobile app campaigns.

Founded in London by David Philippson and Paul Heyton, who were behind the original manifestation of Criteo, Dataseat provides app developers with tools and software to manage and control their own user acquisition, retargeting and cross-promotion campaigns. The solution includes a demand-side platform (DSP) and unique bidding algorithms based on their customers’ first-party data.

“Dataseat has transformed how app developers and agencies can take their programmatic advertising in-house, with complete control and transparency, and can leverage programmatic as a strategic advantage,” said Verve Group co-CEO, Sameer Sondhi. “Dataseat has exhibited bona fide expertise working with gaming companies, and that sweet spot dovetails with Verve Group’s growing strength of integrating the worlds of gaming and advertising, together. Working with Dataseat will allow us to accentuate this opportunity so our clients will benefit.”

Dataseat is expected to maintain its independence and gain investment to build out solutions for existing and new clients. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Flip ecommerce platform gains US$60m Series B funding

Also gaining investor funding this week is Flip, which provides an ecommerce platform that combines a social discovery experience with ecommerce service.

The company announced a US$60 million Series B funding round, bringing its valuation to $500 million. The funding round was led by WestCap with participation from previous investors, Mubadala Capital and Streamlined Ventures, and brings the company’s total capital raised to $95 million.

According to Flip, the business has grown its user base by 500 per cent since the beginning of 2022, as well as grown transactions on the platform by over 600 per cent over the same period. The company plans to use the funding to expand the team, deepen its brand partnerships, and launch its own third-party social commerce marketplace this summer.

Using Flip, shoppers can discover and learn about products through 60-second videos of user-generated content that are instantly shoppable, with a one-click checkout and same day shipping. Shoppers can also share their own video reviews and monetise them as other users in the community engage and shop through their content.

“Our thesis from day 1 was that the future of commerce is centred around people. No one sells a product better than the customer that has purchased that product multiple times, and we see that every day on Flip,” said Flip founder and CEO, Noor Agha. “Through our patented technology that dynamically connects digital content to physical products, we’ve developed a seamless discovery-to-purchase cycle where users can shop instantly through content, share their own video reviews of products they’ve purchased, while monetizing their content over time.”

As the lead investor, WestCap vice-president of Investments Tina Yuan, will join Flip’s board of directors, while Brian Reinken, partner at WestCap, will serve as a board observer.

Flip also announced it is launching its own third-party social commerce marketplace to extend access to the platform for independent brands.

NetSuite updates analytics, inventory management

Oracle NetSuite has updated its NetSuite Analytics Warehouse in a bid to make it easier for customers to blend relevant data sets. It’s also introduced new pre-built visualisation capabilities.

NetSuite Analytics Warehouse is built on Oracle Analytics Cloud and Oracle Autonomous Database for analytics and data warehousing (ADW), The new updates are designed to make it easier for customers to blend standard NetSuite transactional data with custom data, legacy data and an expansive collection of third-party sources. Additionally, enhancements to pre-built visualisation capabilities enable customers to quickly see key performance indicators and identify trends and new data relationships.

Among the new features are the Custom Attribute Mapping Editor, allowing customers to select the custom data to flow from NetSuite into the data warehouse on the next scheduled refresh, and its placement in a subject area data snapshot with no coding required. There’s also a Content Bundle Feature so customers can export content from one NetSuite Analytics Warehouse instance to another. For example, a customer can create a Workbook and dashboard in a sandbox account and then use Bundles to export it into a production account. NetSuite also confirmed an expanded collection of pre-built subject matter data snapshots.

In other news the vendor has also introduced NetSuite Smart Count to streamline inventory management. The new solution aims to help organisations boost efficiency and accuracy by automating the inventory count process.

“Inventory counts are an important check-and-balance that ensure records are accurate, but without the right tools in place, they are often expensive, labour-intensive, and time consuming to conduct,” said Oracle NetSuite senior vice-president, product management, Gary Wiessinger. “With NetSuite Smart Count, we are automating the entire process for our customers so that they can quickly and easily validate inventory records to help ensure inventory availability, optimise inventory levels, and return to doing what they love – running their business.”

Forsta debuts Digital Diaries mobile app

Market research and customer experience tech player, Forsta, has taken the wrappers off its new Digital Diaries mobile ethnography app.

The mobile app is designed to obtain actionable, qualitative insights at scale and is available on iOS and Android devices. It’s been positioned as complementary to Forsta’s existing desktop customer journey and ethnography solution and accessible to users of the Forsta HX (Human Experience) data analysis platform.

Forsta said use cases for the Digital Diaries app include following an individual’s customer journey to gain insights on their choices along the way; recreating in-person focus groups on-the-go; and gathering greater detail via enhanced capabilities such as real-time group discussions, digital polls and photo and video uploading. In addition, the app aims to help brands concept-test new developments, such as a package redesign or in-store displays.

“Digital Diaries enables the type of deep consumer understanding that can only come with one-on-one interactions with customers sharing their feedback in a way that feels natural to the way they live their lives – on their phones and using text messages, social media and other forms of digital communication,” claimed Forsta chief product officer, Brian Bhuta.

The Digital Diaries mobile ethnography app is available in a Forsta-branded or white-labelled environment.

 

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