Discussion by Samuel Zeller

The best cocktails sometimes only take two ingredients. But that's not the case with the perfect digital marketing hub.

In Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, published earlier this month, marketing technology analysts wrote that the ultimate digital marketing technology stack:

  • Combines first-, second- and third-party data across known and anonymous domains for precision targeting and tracking of offers and experiences
  • Supports marketing programs with core services through ideation, planning and monitoring of customer journeys and experience designs, internally and with partners
  • Drives the sequencing and coordination of engagement across channels
  • Ties investments to outcomes to enable marketers to optimize investments to the highest yield

Gartner thinks 22 vendors possess these capabilities, or are at least pretty close. To be included, vendors had to have a minimum revenue of $25 million in 2014. In addition, at least 50 percent of their client base must have had a 2014 global revenue of at least $500 million.

Move Over, Big Guns

Gartner sees the convergence of MarTech and AdTech technologies as the bread-and-butter of this whole hub idea. 

“The real key difference here,” Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman told us earlier this month, “is where the world of AdTech and MarTech intersect. So it’s the convergence of MarTech and marketing automation for the purpose of marketing to your known customers using first party data — and the world of AdTech, which is really about marketing to your anonymous customers using third-party data.”

We’ve decided today to catch up with four of Gartner's “Visionaries” much like we did last year, a chance to hear from some up-and-comers in MarTech in Gartner’s eyes. 

“Most of the Visionaries in this report come from AdTech,” Gartner researchers wrote in the report. “They have grasped the hub opportunity presented by extending real-time data management capabilities forged in programmatic ad markets into areas of marketing beyond advertising, but are often conflicted about how far and fast to advance from their base. Pressure to diversify is growing as the public markets devalue the AdTech sector and competition from Facebook, Google and the hub leaders that have acquired AdTech intensifies.”

The Question

Who has the best digital marketing hub?

The Answers

Ed Montes, CRO, DataXu

ed montes dataxu

Montes leads Boston-based DataXu’s sales and marketing activities on a global basis. Prior to joining DataXu, he was co-founder and CEO at Digilant. He also held leadership positions at Havas Media — spearheading several expansion efforts and doubling the agency’s digital billings and capabilities during his tenure — as well as Yahoo and TechTarget. He is a graduate of Boston University School of Law and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Tweet to Ed Monte.

While our heritage is in programmatic marketing, DataXu has evolved into a leading player in the broader marketing technology sector as well. This evolution has been driven in large part by our emphasis and commitment as a purveyor of best-of-breed data and analytics.

This transition has been duly noted by Gartner in its most recent Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs. The leading research company commended DataXu for its Marketing Analytics product, which offers marketers multichannel reporting and media mix modeling, as well as our innovative Market Pulse offering.  

This new design framework offers users the flexibility to turn specific tactics on and off in a complex manner to best detect and optimize impact of the tactics. This enables more accurate in-marketing testing of multichannel marketing campaigns.

It is important to note that DataXu is not walking away from its reputation as a leading planning and optimization platform for programmatic advertising. Our highly scaled demand-side-platform features integrated campaign planning, forecasting scheduling management and measurement.  

Gartner recommends DataXu as an excellent partner “if you are an analytical marketer who needs to execute complex, high-volume media plans.” We offer multiple levels of decisioning support ranging from media planning to impression-level bidding within a user-friendly interface and integrated work flow, as noted by Gartner and our clients.

DataXu’s evolution into a digital marketing hub makes sense when you consider the intellectual DNA of the company’s founders, who cut their teeth as MIT students on work for NASA. The spirit of innovation at DataXu is relentless and continues to drive the entire organization forward toward excellence.

Mark Smith, President, Kitewheel

mark smith kitewheel

Smith is president of Kitewheel, a Boston-based provider of a cloud-based customer engagement hub for orchestrating real-time consumer journeys across any channel. Before joining Kitewheel he held leadership positions at Pitney Bowes Software and Portrait Software and was the founder and president of the predictive analytics software firm, Quadstone. He has a Ph.D. in mathematics and statistics from the University of Edinburgh. Tweet to Mark Smith

In a market that’s filled with incredible opportunity, but overrun by decades-old marketing platforms, Kitewheel has focused on providing a truly innovative and integrated Consumer Journey Hub.

The reality of current marketing technology stacks offered by major players such as IBM, Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle, to name a few, is that they’re groups of disparate offerings, acquired through acquisition. 

They were never really designed to work together. Gartner provides in its digital marketing hubs report some "cautions" for these “marketing cloud” vendors for lack of integration, complexity, functionality gaps and inconsistencies (Editor’s note: Gartner includes cautions for all 22 vendors).

Our agency partners, many of whom have worked with the big suite vendors, are challenged by the mix of marketing technology that’s in place at brands. These partners tell us that we, on the other hand, are the long-awaited hub they’ve been dreaming about — designed to fill the missing gap between a brand’s array of disparate systems, channels, tech, etc. 

With Kitewheel, brands can quickly connect, using our library of pre-built adaptors, any existing infrastructure from AdTech to MarTech, and everything in-between. We finally solve the real-time integration challenge for any environment, and provide a new centralized decision hub for journey orchestration.

Jason McNellis, VP, RedPoint Global

jason mcnellis redpoint global

As vice president of product strategy at Wellesley Hills, Mass.-based RedPoint Global, McNellis pushes forward RedPoint’s vision of the modern marketing architecture and goal-based marketing. Before joining RedPoint Global, McNellis was a senior analyst with Forrester Research, serving customer insight professionals and helping them leverage customer data to improve marketing and overall business performance. He also has experience leading analytics teams at M Squared Group and Supervalu. He holds a Bachelor's from Carleton College and an Master's from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Tweet to Jason McNellis.

Since our founding a decade ago, RedPoint has been focused on the convergence of data, insight and action to support marketing. As the use cases, channels and technologies have increased, one simple truth has stayed the same — our clients benefit from this inevitable convergence.

If the best approach for your organization looks more like a phased crawl, walk, run toward a digital marketing hub you will want a solution that can leverage at least some of the technologies and processes that you have today, but also support new systems and processes for tomorrow. No matter how quickly your digital transformation, you will need a solution with strong data integration capabilities so each team can be omni-channel smart even if organizational silos slow your ability to orchestrate messaging across channels.

RedPoint Convergent Marketing Platform was the only solution of the 22 reviewed by Gartner that was called out for its "hub focus." As described by Gartner, "RedPoint provides an open platform that allows marketers to centrally manage their data and orchestrate customer journeys through the email, social media, personalization, content management and ad tech providers of choice."

That means RedPoint can move you toward a digital marketing hub at the pace your organization can support. Start with coordinating email and social, then fold in digital advertising to drive more acquisition, then your website for greater insights of unknown audiences then direct mail or your mobile app — whatever is the correct order and speed for your organization. And by using RedPoint's prebuilt and tested connectors integration costs stay at a minimum.

Built for a connected world — where data permeates every aspect of the customer experience — RedPoint's Convergent Marketing Platform simplifies the technology logistics, so you can focus on monetizing your data with a smart digital marketing hub strategy.

Joanna O’Connell, CMO, MediaMath

headshot of Joanna OConnell

O'Connell joined New York City-based MediaMath from AdExchanger, where she was the founding member of the AdExchanger Research practice. Before AdExchanger, she spent three years at Forrester Research as a principal analyst. She started at digital advertising agency Avenue A in New York and was a founding member of Razorfish's ATOM Systems agency trading desk. More recently, she ran brand relations for the Audience on Demand practice at VivaKi, helping advertising clients target and optimize broad-reaching interactive campaigns. She graduated from Vassar College with a Bachelor's in psychology. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and graduated with departmental and general honors. Tweet to Joanna O’Connell.

MediaMath brings its clients optimization and machine learning across all channels at scale. Since 2007 when we launched the industry’s first Demand-Side Platform (DSP), to the full service enterprise software we manage today, MediaMath has a history of building on the leading edge of our industry. 

The 1:1 communication between brands, their agencies and the consumers they serve is stretching from paid media to owned and earned — truly programmatic marketing. MediaMath is making that possible, building integrations with the biggest marketing clouds and brands.

For MediaMath clients, it starts with audiences. We believe programmatic is the new paradigm of consumer-driven marketing. Our integrated Data Management Platform ensures bidirectional data flow, resulting in zero data loss and enabling real-time segmentation of audiences. MediaMath’s identity management tool employs industry-leading technology to leverage deterministic and probabilistic signals in single and cross-device context in a “cookieless” world. 

Our buy-side only approach brings to life your media in an omni-channel world. We believe all media will become addressable and served programmatically. Powerful business outcomes necessitate powerful machine learning in an era of big data and massive marketing complexity. We produce dynamic insights and constantly inform and improve marketing campaign strategies and tactics. We are the partner stitching capable of stitching together the full ecosystem.