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Ensighten Acquires Rival Tag-Management Firm TagMan

tags-consolidateEnterprise tag-management company Ensighten has acquired UK- and New York-based tag manager TagMan for an undisclosed sum, AdExchanger has learned. TagMan confirmed the deal Tuesday.

The tag-management space has heated up of late. BrightTag just hired Forrester analyst Joe Stanhope as its SVP of marketing, barely months after banking $27 million from Yahoo Japan. Conversely, on the marketing-platform side, Adobe acquired Satellite to bring dynamic tag-management capabilities to its digital marketing stack.

According to the CEO of a competing tag-management company, Qubit, tag managers represent a first-party data structure that breeds interoperability between multiple marketing systems and, in essence, acts as the data processor and "enabler" between them.

To put it simply, the tag manager allows a user or marketer to streamline all third-party tags placed on a site, as well as collect, manage and execute on data derived as a result of those tags.

TagMan works with a global customer base of 400, including such brands as Virgin America, Travelocity and Marriott. It calls its solution a tag-management, marketing-data and attribution platform.

Its acquirer, Ensighten, just closed a $40 million Series B round from Insight Venture Partners to expand development of its Agile Marketing Platform. Ensighten claims to work with customers that as a whole generate more than $1.9 trillion in revenues per year, including brands like Capital One, E-Trade and Sony Electronics.


Qubit CEO: A Tag Manager Is Really A First-Party Data Structure

GrahamEx-Googler Graham Cooke believes that just as the data-management platform (DMP) space has evolved and entered a period of consolidation and attracted new cash injections, so too will the tag managers.

Prior to founding Qubit in 2010 with Emre Baran, who spent four years in product management on Google AdWords and AdSense, and two other former Googlers, Cooke worked on conversion-rate improvement within the Google ranks. The single greatest catalyst for data-driven personalization, as he described it, is the collision of big data, open-source technologies and large-scale processing.

He spoke with AdExchanger about the coming effects of such.

AdExchanger: As consolidation colors the DMP space, do you see the same happening for the tag-management category?

GRAHAM COOKE: For us, the tag manager is really about creating a first-party data structure. And the benefit of creating that comprehensive structure on your website is you can use lots of different marketing technologies with that. It improves the agility. The real value is in the ability to understand customers better. Tag management is a means to an end and the end is improving the lifetime value of your customer. All tag managers are a little different, but our application is about, "How do I edit my website faster to surface a welcome banner to somebody who has never been to the site?" But if you’re a VIP, or regular customer, I want to show you the last product you bought and maybe an offer to buy. For us, the tag management piece is just a democratization of creating better data on your website.


Dunnhumby Closes In On Sociomantic, Deal Would Create New Media Platform Backed By Powerful Data

DunnArtDunnhumby, a data and customer insights company owned by British grocery giant Tesco, is close to acquiring Berlin-based retail retargeter Sociomantic Labs, sources say.

Business Insider first reported the rumored deal Thursday and estimated the deal size to be between $175 million to $200 million.

Although dunnhumby and Sociomantic have not publicly announced the transaction, sources with knowledge of both companies have confirmed to AdExchanger a deal is nigh.

If the deal goes through, dunnhumby would be gaining a demand-side platform (DSP) with strong ties to the retail and travel verticals. Sociomantic in recent months has been ramping up its mobile, revenue management and CRM capabilities.

Sociomantic CEO Jason Kelly, former CRO of Admeld, acquired by Google in 2012, told AdExchanger in a recent interview that “ecommerce is typically dependent upon the agency to execute media and we’re coming in and saying, ‘We can do all that for you.’”

Sociomantic last fall formalized a partnership with Revenue Management Systems to synchronize customer data with travel inventory intelligence to help suppliers like airline companies gain targeted reach with consumers.

As Kelly had explained it, “We connect revenue management data to help drive ecommerce, so that’s kind of where Sociomantic, as a platform and services company, fits in. It’s saying, you actually don’t need the agency because we’ll also do the creative and it’s dynamic, which is disruptive.”

This seemingly aligns with dunnhumby, which has separately carved out a commerce and creative component of its business. The company last September launched dunnhumby Ventures, a seed-stage strategic investment fund for commerce startup companies. Its global head of investments, Dave Balter, came to dunnhumby by way of a 2011 acquisition of word-of-mouth marketing firm BzzAgent, which he founded in 2001.


Bitly: We Are The Independent, Third-Party Arbiter Of Clicks Between Every Platform

BitlyArtIf you’ve ever shortened or shared a link on a social platform, chances are you’ve used Bitly.

“We are so ubiquitous, but at the same time, people gloss right over us,” said Mark Josephson, CEO of URL shortening service Bitly. He joined the company six months ago from AOL, where he served as SVP of revenue and marketing at AOL’s local news platform Patch, which it sold to Hale Global in January.

At Bitly, Josephson leads the company’s team of 55, and has found an entrepreneurial endeavor that is better suited to him than the “structure” and “process” he encountered in large-scale corporate life, he said.

The company on Monday brought on former AOL Patch CTO Rob Platzer to serve as Bitly CTO, former Buddy Media VP of Marketing Melissa Wallace to lead marketing and inked a deal with marketing analytics platform Moz to track and score inbound links.

Josephson sat down with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: What problem do you solve?

MARK JOSEPHSON: The problem we set out to solve was to make the link shorter for Twitter in 2008. But the interesting problem we’re trying to solve is what happens to content when it leaves your site and where it goes. That’s why we encode and wrap that content in a tag. Our Bitly links are tags that go out around the Web and travel with content and report back to us. That’s at the core of what we do- understanding how content moves and how audiences interact with it.


Sizmek Levels Up Viewability Metric With MRC Accreditation

kalus sizmekViewability – the qualities that convey whether an advertisement was seen by its target audience – remains a contentious issue in the ad tech space. This is why associations like the Media Ratings Council (MRC) give accreditation to vendors offering viewability metrics, and why those vendors have scrambled for approval.

One such company is Sizmek, whose MDX ad-management platform was accredited by the MRC for its Viewable Impression metric.

AdExchanger spoke with Mark Kalus, the company’s associate VP of product management, about Sizmek’s accreditation and the state of viewability as a whole. (more…)

Oracle Dives Deeper Into Paid Media With Partner API Program

MegBearBarely two weeks after basking in the glow of its BlueKai buy, enterprise software giant Oracle is at it again – this time debuting an open paid media partner API program for Oracle Social Cloud.

One of the many questions arising from the BlueKai deal (as well as other Oracle Marketing Cloud acquisitions including Responsys, Compendium and Eloqua) is the general “openness” of the Oracle stack both to partners and customers. In other words, will Oracle develop for the benefit of the ecosystem at large or does one have to be grandfathered in as an existing Oracle customer?

This is one area Oracle is looking to tackle, starting with the social portion of its marketing cloud. Oracle on Friday made public its partnership with social ad platforms Kenshoo, Nanigans and SHIFT to bring paid media integration to Oracle Social Relationship Management, a product launched one year ago that unified such social acquisitions as Involver, Collective Intellect and Vitrue. Customers include General Motors, LEGO and Pernod Ricard.

“We really see marketers right now wanting to exercise choice and to use technology that’s built on open standards,” commented Meg Bear, group vice president for Oracle Social Cloud. “We do see ourselves opening up more to these open-API marketplace ideas, but also have us help them with the integration to their business and transactional systems, which has been the missing piece in this whole puzzle.”


As Competitors Focus On Tech, Epsilon Is All About Services

steinOf the three legacy data-marketing services companies, Epsilon has been the quietest in media and advertising services.

By contrast, its competitor Acxiom has rumbled along with its data-management platform (DMP) product, Audience Operating System, and its flashy partnership with Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG). Experian Marketing Services recently incorporated its AdTruth product into its marketing tech stack.

But what has Epsilon been up to? While it’s well-known as a provider of email marketing technology, Epsilon is largely a marketing services company.

“The tech providers out there are usually smaller technology companies who are venture-backed in a lot of cases or, in Adobe’s case, committed to Wall Street. [They don’t want] to dilute their margins by going into services,” said Eric Stein, Epsilon’s executive vice president of online solutions. “That’s Epsilon’s bread and butter: the services business.”

Stein spoke with AdExchanger.

Note: The conversation occurred before Oracle announced its intent to acquire BlueKai. (more…)

Cross-Device Targeting Startup AdMobius Close To A Sale

admobiusCross-device audience targeting company AdMobius is close to a sale, and a deal could close as early as next week, according to sources with knowledge of the company.

One of the suitors is Lotame, which has made an offer, but the transaction has not yet been consummated. There may be other buyers interested as well.

AdMobius was founded in September 2012 by executives from Apple's iAd network, including CEO at the time Dan Grigorovici, a product executive at Quattro Wireless before Apple bought it in 2010. Since then, Grigorovici has stepped into a product role, and Peter Bassett has taken the CEO reins. The company has raised $5 million to date from Storm Ventures and Opus Capital.

AdMobius belongs to a class of cross-device targeting vendors that includes firms like Drawbridge, TapAd, Adelphic Mobile, and its sale suggests a path forward for these companies in the form of acquisitions by data management platforms (DMPs) -- or other companies that providing marketing technologies. These platforms use a method of audience targeting often called "probabilistic" identification, designed to overcome the cookie limitations of the mobile channel by building detailed profiles linked to individual device characteristics.

"We are ingesting multiple different types of IDs, never the original UDID, never the original device ID," Grigorovici told AdExchanger in 2012. "We index everything in our database in terms of our own AdMobius ID…. We essentially stitch together, if you will, multiple different non‑personal identifiable IDs."


Where The Marketer, Data Scientist And Cloud Intersect

QueryCloudAs marketers and advertisers try to parse real-time interactions across multiple channels, they’re finding they need big data warehouses and analytics tools. The problem is, some are startlingly slow or, in other instances, they simply hit a wall when volumes are high.

To combat this, vendors selling big data tools to marketers are increasingly building their offerings around cloud-based services designed to accommodate huge data queries in a timely and cost-effective manner.

For instance, when Marketo hit capacity with the volume of datasets it could parse via traditional Structured Query Language (SQL), it redesigned its back end with Solr, an open-source software that allows users to efficiently query incredibly large datasets.

The data-management platform (DMP) Aggregate Knowledge is another example.

“At the end of the day, on the media side of the house, it’s all about normalization and presenting the data in a scenario where its ready to be consumed by the analyst,” said Rob Gatto, SVP of media and advertising for Aggregate Knowledge owner Neustar, an information services and analytics company. Aggregate Knowledge’s data scientists and developers use Amazon Web Services for high-volume data processing and continue to tap the cloud-based offering Redshift.

“We’re doing with Amazon for significantly less dollars what we would do with a traditional data warehouse,” Gatto added. Amazon Redshift, barely a year old, claims to charge less than a 10th what most other data-warehousing solutions charge.


The Bigger Picture: What The Oracle-BlueKai Buy Means For The Market

DMPspreeOracle’s planned acquisition of data exchange and solutions provider BlueKai pushes Oracle deeper into marketing tech.

Like its peers IBM and SAP, Oracle had prioritized business departments like supply chain, finance and HR above media buying and digital marketing. And rather than building a marketing and ad stack from scratch in order to clinch CMO budget, Oracle’s gaining its stack through acquisition.

“I would say that the advantage in buying BlueKai is that it will open up and bring some relationships to Oracle that they might not have ever had,” said Rob Gatto, SVP of media and advertising at Neustar. Media agencies in particular represent a previously closed-off customer base. “Traditionally, I don’t think the enterprise software guys sold to agencies very well.”

It’s not surprising Gatto understands the benefits of growth through acquisition. He previously served as president of DMP Aggregate Knowledge, acquired by Neustar last fall for $119 million.

Directly following the Aggregate Knowledge acquisition, agency holding group Omnicom Group standardized its Annalect business around the Neustar/AK DMP in order to shrink the silos between audience segmentation and media optimization for more effective data management. (And before Aggregate Knowledge, Gatto worked at Hyperion and SPSS, which were acquired by Oracle and IBM, respectively.)

As Gatto sees it, the synergies between media analytics and the data solutions traditionally fielded by big IT providers like Oracle can make marketing and advertising decisions more expansive by tapping data flowing throughout the enterprise, not just a single department.

“Media agencies are doing a nice job bringing media analytics as a strategy to their clients and the software vendors who come from the data warehouse and analytics environment are beginning to connect it back to other parts of the organization,” he explained.