Marketo Details ‘Customer Engagement Platform,’ Acxiom Data Deal

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JonMillerArtOften framed as an M&A target to enterprise acquirers, marketing automation company Marketo on Tuesday released a Customer Engagement Platform – the result of the company’s own acquisitions spree.

The platform, which Marketo positions as a full marketing campaign management stack, unifies several of its acquisitions including machine-learning personalization tool Insightera and social campaign management platform Crowd Factory.

The company has also formed a partner deal with Acxiom to integrate its Customer Engagement Platform and Real-Time Personalization software with the data company’s data management platform (DMP) Audience Operating System.

Marketo’s push to service full-scale customer lifecycle needs and hook into a DMP foreshadow the company’s trajectory. Like Oracle, which recently spent close to $400 million on DMP BlueKai, it's indicative that first-and-third-party data players continue to mix.

Jon Miller, Marketo cofounder and VP of marketing content and strategy, spoke with AdExchanger about these developments.

AdExchanger: What’s the Customer Engagement Platform?

JON MILLER: It’s [marketing and sales automation becoming] applicable to B2B and B2C, [when it] has been historically constrained to the B2B world…With the specific products we’re launching, I think we’re credibly building a platform that says, “No, we’re more than marketing automation.” Marketing is changing so fast today that a company that's there to guide marketers specifically… especially when compared to other [places] where marketing ends up being a second-class citizen to sales or selling databases, is an important proposition.

What are some of the core pieces of the platform?

The core of this platform is a marketing system of record. The brain – the part that decides what should the customer experience be, is based on predictive analytics and real-time decisions. We feel it’s big data, but that’s an overused term. And then our analytics, [which] we’ve had for a couple years now, are around doing attribution and time-series reporting to understand what’s working and not.

There’s a ton of consolidation happening in the data management space, notably Oracle’s acquisition of BlueKai. Would Marketo benefit from buying a DMP?

The short answer is absolutely, yes. My vision is understanding the contacts and the context of a customer, [where it’s] perfectly acceptable to have a non-PII context. A marketer might think: “I want to target CIOs who have been to my website,” which is personally identifiable information. But the same thought process should be, “I want to target CIOs in general who might be in the market to purchase software,” and that would be the non-PII targeting. In the short-term, we’re looking at partnerships as opposed to building [that DMP capability] ourselves. We are talking with all of them for inclusion in our LaunchPoint ecosystem, and some of those discussions get more strategic.

There are lots of rumors about Marketo being acquired (or doing more acquisitions) itself. True?

We have been very transparent that we are acquisitive. We have a nice, top of market currency to use and an active program of looking at companies and evaluating companies against a strategic framework of what we’re looking to buy. We made our first move with the acquisition of Insightera, which is part of this whole platform of personalizing interactions across inbound channels like the Web and mobile in real-time. We also got some really unique predictive analytics out of that acquisition including a research center in Tel Aviv that has data scientists. We are thinking along the lines you’re talking about and that’s probably the most I can say on that one.

Marketo’s CEO recently said it has a 12% B2C customer base. Is this accurate, given your B2B heritage?

That is an accurate statement. When we started Marketo, we started in B2B not because the product had any specific thing that only B2B companies could use, but because it’s a good way to go to market with focus and it served us very well. But the whole idea of understanding who your customers are and orchestrating interactions with them across channels over time is frankly something that’s true across both segments. We have a lot of momentum going on in the consumer business across health care, education, financial services.

Where do you stand with your platform partner ecosystem?

We now have 250 partners live on LaunchPoint, which we announced in November 2012. An important part of being a platform is having an ecosystem. In addition, it’s having real-time personalization and search engine optimization. We’ve had social marketing applications since we acquired Crowd Factory in 2012. The real-time personalization is what came out of Insightera. It is totally integrated in our platform, and will be generally available as an integrated solution, and its application is to make Web channels as personalized as email. We needed a LaunchPoint ecosystem to do things we don’t do. There are companies that do retargeting, content marketing, and video advertising that are integrated to Marketo.

Speaking of partnerships, you’ve forged one with Acxiom. What does this integration hold for marketers?

[The integration] lets marketers target people with relevant display ads across networks using Acxiom AOS based on demographic information and propensity information. When one of those people comes to a marketer’s site, whether it’s on their own or from clicking on one of those ads, Marketo real-time personalization picks up the data from Acxiom and presents a personalized message based on the data Acxiom has, leading to higher conversion. Once that visitor converts and provides their contact information, the Marketo platform will pull in the data Acxiom has about that person, which can then be used for highly targeted outbound campaigns from Marketo’s marketing automation products.

What’s still a core problem for marketers and how can a DMP help?

Companies spend a ton of time personalizing email and segmenting, and when they click on a link in an email, everybody gets sent to the same landing page. This still happens. The integration to Marketo lets you look at [whether someone is a customer or a high-score prospect] and customize the experience, offers and content accordingly. This is a very interesting area of integration to DMPs because they can [bring that] psychographic information and use that to personalize the Web experience.

What’s the difference between marketing automation and campaign management?

I have my biases, but I look at campaign management as a subset of what you would do with marketing automation. Campaign management is: “What is the segmentation I’m using in this particular campaign and then how do I manage the details of executing this campaign?” [Like] taking a segment and sending it to an email service provider, etc. Marketo has batch campaign nodes that do that quite well, but I think of campaign management as being about a campaign. And I think the world is moving away from thinking about marketing as a series of campaigns and more about how to create a customer conversation across the lifecycle. I think that’s the key difference between campaign management and marketing automation.

Here's Marketo's digital marketing proposition, illustrated: 

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