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Gartner Digital Marketing Hub Quadrant: The Big Get Bigger


magic quadrant digital hubAcquisitions and more mature integrations led Oracle, Adobe and Salesforce to separate sharply from their peers in Gartner’s third Digital Marketing Hub Magic Quadrant, released late Wednesday.

Of course, it’s questionable whether ad tech vendors, such as DataXu or Cxense, really qualify as “peers,” but Gartner has had a unique, if controversial, way of assessing the vendor landscape.

“There’s an area of overlap that has to do with identity management and analytics and operational data that makes it useful to look at them in the context of a comparative framework,” said Andrew Frank, the Gartner VP who co-authored the study. “That’s not to say they’re all doing the same thing, but there’s still a point of convergence.”

Gartner defined digital marketing hubs as solutions that can combine first-, second- and third-party data across known and anonymous consumers. The hubs also have collaboration and workflow management capabilities, can sequence and coordinate messages across channels and measure outcomes.

Gartner placed Oracle, Salesforce, Adobe and Marketo in the leader category since they could execute and had “completeness of vision,” a rating that includes evaluations around product strategies, innovation, business models and market understanding, among other criteria.

Neustar, IgnitionOne, Zeta Global, Kitewheel and Sitecore landed in the visionaries category. These companies, according to Gartner, didn’t have the best ability to execute, but had good “completeness of vision.”

The challenger category included IBM, Nielsen, MediaMath, DataXu, Turn, Lotame – companies that could execute but lacked “completeness of vision.”

And the niche players include Cxense, BlueConic, SAS, RedPoint, SAP, Ysance, Viant Technology and Eulerian Technologies.

Here are a few takeaways from the Quadrant.

Marketing Clouds Pull Away

As mentioned, Salesforce, Oracle and Adobe all separated themselves from the other vendors Gartner evaluated.

Frank noted two reasons: “We saw an advancement in the vision dimension with events like Salesforce acquiring [DMP and past Magic Quadrant participant] Krux and some acquisitions Oracle did.”


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The other reason is that many of these marketing clouds are better integrated now. “The biggest change is a year’s worth of effort on the integration front and creating more seamless experiences for the marketer,” Frank said. “That’s solidified the value proposition of getting these components from a single source.”

Not that these companies don’t have room for improvement. Gartner noted that Adobe’s stack is overcomplicated at times and that the integration of Salesforce cloud components is still a “work in progress.”

Oracle also has integration issues, according to the Quadrant: “Oracle’s digital marketing hub product integration strategy must be applied to both Responsys and Eloqua, which means duplicate effort and uneven integration maturity.”

DSPs/DMPs Fall Back

Last year, Gartner qualified Turn, MediaMath and DataXu as visionaries – good strategy, but lacking the ability to execute. This year, that script has flipped. All three DSP/DMP hybrids found themselves in the challenger category, which means Gartner thinks they can execute but isn’t really enamored with their strategies.

Frank said pressures in the ad tech sector are forcing Turn, MediaMath and DataXu to choose between doubling down on their core advertising business or extending into adjacent areas, such as data management.

“These companies have, more often than not, focused on their core business,” Frank said. “They’ve scaled up their capabilities, worked on simplifying their UI, which has increased their ability to execute.”

But that decision means these vendors can no longer talk as aspirationally about being a complete solution for data-driven marketing across all channels.

New Players Push In

Two companies elbowed their way into more competitive spots. First, Nielsen went from a niche player to a challenger – and almost a leader. This growth was thanks to its acquisition of the eXelate DMP and the subsequent emergence of its marketing cloud product.

“Nielsen certainly has come a long way since it acquired eXelate and sought to integrate it into a marketing cloud that brought together the best of Nielsen data with eXelate’s programmatic niche,” Frank said.

Nielsen’s data ecosystem, processing capabilities and media measurement capabilities were all strengths. And its biggest weaknesses related to its marketing cloud being late to market compared to competitors, creating a limited track record of success. Also, clients gave mixed reviews to Nielsen Marketing Cloud.

The other surprise was the little-known Zeta Global, which improved in its ability to execute and completeness of vision. Last year, it was a niche player, but this year it is a visionary, according to Gartner.

“They are a bit of a stealth player, and they’re also a company that has done a lot of acquisitions over the last couple of years,” Frank said. “They don’t have a long history of building organically, but with the companies they’ve acquired, they’re assembling a puzzle that’s compelling.”

Zeta got big marks for value and client support, as well as for specific functions like cross-device management.

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