RSS FeedArchive for the ‘Platforms’ Category


FYQ1: Salesforce.com Sees Cloud Strength, Alludes (Slightly) To Future M&A Potential

Q1artSalesforce.com reported fiscal first-quarter 2015 revenue of $1.23 billion, up 37% year over year at 11 cents per share. This beat analyst estimates of $1.21 billion at 10 cents per share. (Earnings release)

Salesforce.com added significant head count – more than 900 – to its employee base this quarter. This was up 38% year over year; Salesforce.com now has 14,200 employees.

“We have a lot of other great growth drivers, especially with our Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud and (Salesforce1 mobile-first) platform, but our flagship sales product remains a dominant part of the company’s success,” said CFO Graham Smith on Salesforce.com’s earnings call.

Although Salesforce.com continued to tout the importance of cross-cloud integration across client portfolios, there was one marked difference on Tuesday’s earnings call than preceding ones – the company did not break out revenues by product.

For the sake of a reference point, the Salesforce.com ExactTarget Marketing Cloud drove $96 million in FYQ4 revenue; it was $81 million the prior quarter. This could be indicative of Salesforce.com’s (and others') intentions to unify or, at least, present a unified front to customers and potential customers that want to go the suite route. In the case of Salesforce.com, this means broadening product sell-in beyond “cloud” boundaries.

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Marketing Tech Company Captora Raises $22 Million Series B

CaptoraStandalone marketing technology platform Captora has raised $22 million in Series B financing.

The company, co-founded by the former chief revenue officer of independent marketing automation platform Marketo, claims to siphon in-site demand data to flag the highest potentially performing areas for a marketer to put their dollars.  The latest round of funding will go toward product development and to fuel international expansion.

“We wanted to build a platform that was context-aware and that helps marketers show the ROI on the spend they’re putting into content,” said Paul Albright, co-founder and CEO of Captora.

“A lot of people are putting money into work flows,” Albright said, but the focus at Captora is determining what content works for what persona across a variety of locations and verticals.

The round was led by New Enterprise Associates with support from existing investor Bain Capital Ventures. Captora’s Series A round, which it closed last March, was valued around $5 million.

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Taking Orders: Rubicon Project Joins The Direct Deals Pack

rubicon-directRubicon Project is the latest ad tech company to support automation of direct deals. Its first product in this area, called 49bc, will focus on mobile inventory only. Later this year it expects to add support for desktop and video to the toolset, which is still in private beta.

Rubicon is one of about 10 platform companies channeling R&D into the so-called "orders" business. Among its competition in this area are AppNexus, Mediaocean, Google, PubMatic, OpenX, iSocket, and ShinyAds.

Rubicon previously supported guaranteed ad deals through its Connect private exchange product, which first rolled out in 2012. The company says 49bc is an evolution of Connect in that Rubicon will for the first time support sellers' direct negotiations with agencies from the media discovery phase through execution.

Rubicon breaks the whole ad marketplace into three basic transaction types:  static bidding of the sort pioneered by Right Media and other early exchanges; real-time bidding (RTB) against individual user impressions; and orders. Orders is a very large bucket that includes TV, radio, print, out of home and potentially any other paid media transaction.

While 49bc’s exclusive mobile focus seems a long way from capturing that opportunity, Rubicon had to start somewhere.

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Emerging Content Marketing Tool Stacks Will Emulate, Link To Paid Ad Stacks

rebecca liebResearch from Altimeter Group released Tuesday predicted that content marketing tools will begin to consolidate and eventually merge with marketing tech solutions.

"The major vendors—Adobe, Salesforce, Oracle—they're all talking about their marketing clouds. What is that? It is an amalgam of the tools they're compiling that cover everything involved with ads,  creative, targeting, serving and analytics and optimization," said Rebecca Lieb, analyst with Altimeter and author of the firm's comprehensive content marketing report out today. "Correspondingly, we're seeing this happen with content and the reason we're seeing it happen with content is that there's a growing understanding that content is the atomic particle of all marketing."

The report involved researching 100 different content marketing tool vendors for the report, as well as interviewing content marketing executives.

Despite the importance of brand-created and curated content, the vendor landscape is highly fragmented. Altimeter identified separate tools to support creation, curation and aggregation, optimization, analytics, audience and targeting, distribution, workflow, legal and compliance. Currently there's considerable overlap between the categories and many organizations today are buying the same functionalities over and over again as a result.

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Is Adobe Priming A Bigger Push In Display And Social Advertising?

adobe-displayIf Oracle will flaunt the tight integration of its Marketing Cloud, so too will Adobe. The company, at its Digital Marketing Summit EMEA in London Wednesday, revealed (among other Marketing Cloud enhancements) tighter integration between its Media Optimizer and Analytics applications. In so doing, Adobe seems to be in the early stages of positioning itself as a player in the display and social advertising space.

This would also explain why the company is emphasizing its partnerships with media sources like Turn, Pubmatic, Rubicon Project, FBX, Microsoft and Yahoo.

To be fair, these are not new partnerships, but Adobe is making a concerted effort to showcase them.

“People don’t understand Adobe is in the advertising business,” said Adobe’s director of product marketing Tim Waddell. “We need to make sure we’re in search, display and social business. We have one of the best optimization engines in the market.”

That optimization engine is Media Optimizer, which has 500 global customers and manages $2 billion in ad spend. Adobe is acutely aware that this application is commonly associated with managing search bids. “We are actively pursuing display and social business and we need to grow those channels,” Waddell said.

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Facebook Ad Partner Nanigans Commits To SaaS, COO Marc Grabowski Departs

nanigans-saasChanges are afoot at Nanigans, as the Facebook ad partner repositions to serve in-house marketers strictly on a software subscription basis. The company has stopped signing new managed services business and will focus on getting its self-serve platform into the hands of marketers in the ecommerce and app verticals.

As part of this singular focus on self-serve, the Boston-based company is parting ways with its COO Marc Grabowski. Marketing SVP Dan Slagen has also left the building.

Reached by AdExchanger, both Grabowski and Nanigans CEO Ric Calvillo couched Grabowski's exit in terms of "strategic differences" over the future of the company. The key difference appears to be that while Grabowski saw continued opportunity to scale managed services (read: insertion order-based) revenue, Calvillo thinks the company had to choose between a managed services and self-serve software model.

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IgnitionOne: Bridging The Unknown And The Known

Will-Margiloff-IgnitionOneWhen ad tech company IgnitionOne acquired data-management platform (DMP) Knotice, did it become a marketing cloud?

CEO Will Margiloff would say the company was one even before. In the most literal sense, he’s right: “We decided back in 2011, well before anyone talked about marketing clouds, that you need to integrate the disparate pieces of marketing and ad tech into a single stack.”

Still, one would be hard-pressed to position IgnitionOne in direct competition with the marketing clouds fielded by enterprise tech giants like Salesforce.com, Oracle and Adobe. IgnitionOne’s background, after all, is in providing solutions that help manage a marketer’s paid assets. To this end, it has most in common with Adobe, which has a Media Optimizer application within its suite.

The weakness Margiloff identifies in the other marketing clouds is their collective inability to follow the trajectory of anonymous online visitors as they become known prospects. That is: Nurture a prospect who visits a website multiple times to the point where he becomes a known converter, and continue following that relationship. Integrating the Knotice DMP is a major component of realizing that vision.

Margiloff spoke with AdExchanger.

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PHG Targets $10B Affiliate Management Market

phgPerformance Horizon Group (PHG) is an affiliate marketing campaign management provider whose clients have included Sony and T-Mobile. Started in 2010 with seven employees, the company now has nearly 60 on staff in offices in London and Newcastle, England, New York and Sydney.

The company is led by some of the founding members of Buy.at, a British affiliate marketing network acquired for $125 million by AOL in 2008.

Recently, PHG introduced optimization tools for brands working with Apple’s iBeacon tracking feature for iOS. Using iBeacon, a retailer can, for example, track where a customer is in a store via their mobile device and offer relevant discounts.

Malcolm Cowley, PHG’s CEO, and Pete Cheyne, CTO, both co-founders of Buy.at, spoke with AdExchanger about the company and the affiliate marketing management space.

AdExchanger: What problem do you solve?

MALCOLM COWLEY: As a brand, you go sign up to the [affiliate and partner] networks and you know that you are then going to get access to distribution and you’re going to be using the unsophisticated tools that are available to track those relationships.

You’re pretty much going to have an incubator period where you learn about which partners drive volume. Then when you want to really scale up, you start looking for different tools that would allow you to understand the true value and then you scale from there.

That’s where Performance Horizon Group comes in. We are a technology provider and we provide an assessment application called ExactView, which allows those brands to work directly with the publishers and upscale globally. That’s kind of how we see our mission at the moment. This first phase of the company is about how we connect global enterprises directly to their publisher base and upscale.

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Questions For AOL's Tim Armstrong, Platform (Not Media) Executive

Tim Armstrong AOL CEO 2Still thinking of AOL as a media company? Tim Armstrong wants to change your mind.

On the company's Q1 earnings call Wednesday, its CEO repeatedly invoked "platforms," "mechanization" and, of course, "programmatic" as the underpinnings of the business. AOL's Tuesday acquisition of multitouch attribution vendor Convertro also hammered this message home.

Armstrong's platform ardor almost veered into salaciousness at one point, when Armstrong told investors, "What we think is sexy is building the foundational platforms that the industry is going to ride on for the next couple decades."

Armstrong elaborated in a follow-up convo with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: One obvious takeaway from AOL's earnings call yesterday would be, don't expect more content acquisitions. Is that right?

TIM ARMSTRONG: We're doing platform acquisitions. When we bought TechCrunch, which I think people would call a content acquisition, it had CrunchBase underneath it, which is a platform. When we bought The Huffington Post, that was content but it had a blogging platform underneath it.

We will do acquisitions – content or ads – that have platforms attached to them.

Many media agencies still think of AOL as a collection of media brands. How do you change that perception to get the media buyer to think of you as a serious platform option?

Warren Buffett has a saying: "You can’t have hamburgers on the sign outside and French food inside." This is a classic case of the product (having) to match the sign we put out front. The better the products get and the more we're clear about the fact that AOL is more of a media platform company, that will happen over time.

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Buying Attribution: Google, AOL Acquisitions Raise Flags On Media Neutrality

GoogleAOLFollowing Google and AOL’s acquisitions of multitouch attribution vendors Adometry and Convertro Tuesday, several questions arose.

The first, and perhaps easiest to answer: What was the driving force for the purchasers and how will the technologies plug into their existing platforms?

“The macro rationale for both of the acquisitions seems to be the growing need for justifying media spend and ROI across multiple channels,” commented Vik Kathuria, global chief media officer at Razorfish. “This ties directly into the need for efficiency to make limited marketing dollars work harder and minimize waste. The acquisition solves the ever-growing fraud issue, especially [in the case of] Adometry.”

The second question is around media neutrality. Will marketers feel they are getting a clear view of how their ads are performing cross-platform if their attribution tool is now media-owned?

“I think it’s going to be a huge challenge for Google to say, ‘We now have a comprehensive attribution platform and we can show you offline/online performance and this is an indication we’re opening up our ecosystem,’” remarked Tina Moffett, research analyst and an author of the Forrester Wave Report for Attribution Vendors. “That will still be a hard sell to [prospective] Google clients.”

In the case of AOL, although Convertro’s advanced algorithms will be rolled out to platform ONE by AOL, Adap.tv, and the AdLearn Open Platform (as well as sold as a standalone) in terms of scope, “the problem, at the end of the day is, [prospective clients could still say,] ‘that’s great, you have an advanced measurement algorithm, but I buy my media from you.’”

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