CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 20 October 22

All the latest martech and adtech news from Sitecore, Pega, Acoustic, Pixis, Qualtrics, Insite AI, Kyra and Criteo.

Sitecore pitches composable and connected with raft of new offerings

Digital experience software vendor, Sitecore, has unveiled a suite of new fully composable offerings as well as platform updates during its global partner and customer gathering, Sitecore Symposium, this week.

The new product offerings include Sitecore Search, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered search and content discovery tool that offers predictive capabilities for digital search. The plug-and-play solution can be applied to an existing website and customises how content is matched, sorted and promoted.

Content Hub One, meanwhile, is an agile headless content management system (CMS), which combines content modelling, authoring and consumption across Web, mobile, smart displays, voice assistants and marketplaces into a single interface.

As a further nod to composability, Sitecore Connect, which can be accessed via a drag-and-drop user interface, aims to help brands seamlessly connect Sitecore products to an existing technology stack of third-party tools through more than 1000 connectors. Sitecore Connect is being pitched as a low code / no code interface for building custom recipes, or otherwise offers more than 400,000 community recipes to define a target system, set the flow and publish.

Finally, Sitecore has flagged further enhancements to XM Cloud, its cloud-native CMS, are on their way, including new editing interfaces, native personalisation and testing capabilities. The latest solutions are part of Sitecore’s broader push to offer a portfolio of solutions for digital marketing. They’re being supported by Sitecore 360, a customer success plan for brands to access tools, people and principles to help with tech migration, management and optimisation.

“Over the last year, we’ve made ambitious strides in delivering on our commitment to innovate and build the next generation of marketing tools,” Sitecore CEO, Steve Tzikakis, said. “We look forward to expanding our product portfolio and continuing to serve as an expert partner to marketers.”

No-code AI vendor enters Australia following investment injection

US-based Pixis has confirmed a new country manager for A/NZ as it looks to expand use of its AI infrastructure offering in this region.  

The company provides a codeless AI technology for demand generation and marketing optimisation and boasts of more than 200 clients in America, MENA and APAC. These include DHL, Joe & The Juice, Kumu and SmartAsset. Pixis was founded by global CEO, Shubham A Mishra, chief technology officer, Vrushali Prasade, and chief business officer, Hari V. It’s raised US$124 million in funding to date. The latest funding round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 with participation from new investor, General Atlantic, as well as existing investors.

Comprising 80+ proprietary AI models, Pixis' codeless infrastructure is deployed across an ecosystem of AI products. The vendor claims marketers can deploy the solution in 15 minutes without data scientists or IT/tech team intervention, then activate the AI in 8 seconds to initiate an initial audit of current marketing strategies. It then looks for ways to optimise and scale efficiencies through recommendations around targeting, media management, creative communication and performance optimisation.

Dean Vocisano has been appointed country manager for A/NZ to help the vendor ramp up operations and sales in this region. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the marketing space, holding senior roles previously at ShopFully, Salmat and Rakuten Advertising.

Pixis Europe and APAC CEO, Neel Pandya, noted Australia contributed US$12bn to total digital ad spending in 2022 and is expected to grow further. “We’ve found the Australian market to be proactive in their search for AI products and eager to adopt new technology,” he commented.  

Acoustic secures growth investment

Marketing campaign and automation vendor, Acoustic, has obtained a strategic growth investment from investment firm, Francisco Partners, to back its product ambitions.

Specific numbers were not disclosed, however Acoustic said existing investor, Centerbridge Partners, remained the primary equity holder in the company. Acoustic is the standalone martech company spun out of IBM several years ago. Its platform focuses on marketing automation and digital experience analytics.

“We are thrilled to announce this new investment from Francisco Partners. As more consumer interactions take place digitally, customer experience becomes the deciding factor for whether consumers engage with your brand,” said Acoustic CEO, Dennis Self. “This investment validates our strategy for creating unified digital customer experiences at scale. It will also help accelerate our platform vision and continue to create highly personalised multichannel experiences through our product suite that connects consumers’ online interactions with the buying experience.”

Read more: Acoustic CEO: What we’re doing to be the best-of-breed marketing cloud alternative

Qualtrics debuts CrossXM

Qualtrics has taken the wrappers off CrossXM, a fresh product line designed to give both customer and brand experience managers automated insights into how employee, customer and brand experiences are impacting each other.

Specifically, the latest platform looks at key employee experience metrics, such as manager support, career development and recognition, and their impact on customer outcomes.

“Leaders instinctively know that engaged employees deliver great products and great customer service, positively impacting their brand’s reputation as well as boosting customer engagement and spend,” said Qualtrics president of products and engineering, Brad Anderson. “CrossXM gives organisations the ability to predict how employee experience investments will pay off in brand value and customer outcomes, a powerful innovation that will change the way companies prioritise investments in their most important asset – their employees.”

From early 2023, Qualtrics said companies will also be able to connect their customer experience and brand experience programs to identify specific customer experiences most impacting brand equity.

For example, a rental car company may find a manual, outdated rental car pickup process is a leading driver for poor customer satisfaction and negative brand perception. In response, the company could take action to digitise the pickup process and feature the improvement in an upcoming advertising to enhance their brands.

Pega expands AI capabilities

Also bolstering its AI capabilities this week is Pega, which has announced the latest edition of its Pega Infinity software suit. The platform is designed to help companies to quickly deploy apps, create smarter workflows and ultimately, improve employee and customer experiences.  

According to the vendor, new features give users enterprise-wide AI that works behind the scenes to increase efficiency, speed innovation and improve customer interactions. Pega said it’s achieving this by further infusing intelligence across its low-code AI-powered decisioning and workflow automation capabilities. Available now, Pega Infinity 8.8 includes enhancements to Pega Platform, Pega Customer Decision Hub, and Pega Customer Service.

Specific additions include the Developer Assistant Panel, part of Pega’s App Studio, which provides AI-driven recommendations to developers as they build apps and workflows. A Prediction Widget provides deeper insights and transparency into how AI-powered predictions are made, including case routing, probability and reasoning behind missing service level agreements (SLAs), as well as behaviours like churn, fraud and risk. Insights and Dashboards has also been given a refresh to offer unified, interactive and collaborative visualisation capabilities for table and chart-based insights.

The vendor noted Pega Robot Studio as a new-look offering making it faster and easier for users of all skill levels to create and deploy reliable bots. Pega Customer Data Connectors then allows brands to connect Pega Customer Decision Hub’s real-time AI capabilities with existing customer data platforms from the likes of Adobe, Celebrus and ZineOne.

Fast-Release Changes, an enhancement to Pega Customer Decision Hub’s change management module, aims to help users quickly adapt an existing strategy when an urgent change is needed without disrupting workflows, as well as manage multiple work cycles in parallel. Another new feature is Impact Analyser, which monitors engagement policies, business levers and AI models to optimise and determine next-best-action customer engagement strategies.

Finally, new voice and messaging AI enhancements include an interaction timeline with transcription capabilities and automated call wrap-up functions.

Insite AI secures US$19m Series A Funding

Another business securing investment this week is Insite AI, an AI-driven category and revenue growth management solutions vendor.

The startup has closed a US$19m Series A funding round led by NewRoad Capital and M12, Microsoft’s Venture Fund. Insite AI’s AI platform aims to help consumer brands intelligently create assortment, space, pricing and trade promotion strategies to improve retailer collaboration, increase revenue and accelerate growth. The company claims to have tripled revenue over the last 15 months and was founded by Shaveer Mirpuri and Jonathan Reid.

“Large consumer brands have long been challenged by the time, cost and debate involved in determining the best category, sales, and revenue management strategies,” said Mirpuri. “Insite AI is the first technology that allows them to input target financial or commercial objectives and receive recommendations for capturing incremental ROI from sales, marketing, trade, and innovation investments.”

Kyra Raises US$15m in Series A funding

UK-based creator economy company, Kyra, has raised US$15 million in Series A funding to build its platform connecting TikTok creators with brands.

The investment round was led by Bonnier Ventures, with participation from LionTree, Torch Capital, GMG Ventures and Firstminute Capital. The company said it will use the funds to build out its home for creators, beginning with the launch of Kyra Platform, a proprietary platform streamlining and optimising TikTok partnerships for brands and creators alike.

The business is led by CEO, Devran Amaratunga, and works with creators such as Abby Roberts, Nintendo Grl and bluechip brands like Nike, Converse and Calvin Klein. As well as its platform plans, Kyra’s products include Originals, originally produced TikTok channels reaching more than 13 million monthly viewers; Profile, a Gen Z creator incubator program; and Studios, a production studio creating social content on behalf of brands.

Criteo brings Connected TV (CTV) offering to Australia

Adtech player, Criteo, has debuted Connected TV (CTV) solution in Australia. The solution uses unique audiences and data from Criteo’s side and is supported by full-funnel management and full-service support.

Consisting of non-skippable, in-stream ads, Criteo’s CTV offering is available via its marketing solutions platform. Key features include customised audience targeting and the ability to combine Criteo’s global Shopper Graph and proprietary data assets, based on 120+ shopper intent signals, with a brand’s first-party data to reach and influence customised audience segments.

Criteo said its broad-reaching relationships with supply-side platforms (SSPs) and nearly 5000 direct publisher partnerships will provide greater access to inventory and better buying efficiencies. There’s also full-funnel marketing reporting.

“This new offering will allow our customers to reach consumers through an increasingly popular platform,” Criteo managing director, A/NZ, Colin Barnard, said. “Utilising Criteo's Shopper Graph, which taps into data from 75 per cent of the world's online shoppers, we assist in growing awareness for brands and building on this through our strong advertising solutions for a full-funnel approach.”


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