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Deep changes in the CDP space

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Deep changes in the CDP space


There’s a sense of tectonic shift in the marketing technology space right now. Of course, it’s a space which has been growing and evolving at a staggering pace for some ten years. I’m talking about more fundamental change.

Think of marketing automation, CRM and customer data as three of the tectonic plates which make up marketing technology’s crust. They’re moving. Imperceptibly, perhaps, at the level of day-to-day operations and campaigns, but discernibly at a more strategic level. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the new configuration of marketing technology will be – but I think I know the right question to ask: What is the future of the customer data platform? Will CDPs take over the activate-and-execute role of marketing automation? Will they supersede CRM as repositories of customer data?

Boom or bust for independent CDPs?

It’s easy – and accurate – to think of the CDP category as large and growing. There’s a lot of interest in CDPs, especially, but not only, from enterprise B2C brands trying to personalize engagement with their customers at scale. At the same time, independent CDPs, some of them well-established and well-known, are being gobbled up at an unprecedented rate by more comprehensive marketing suites or digital experience platforms.

AgilOne acquired by Acquia, Segment by Twilio, Zylotech by Terminus, Boxever by Sitecore, Zaius by Optimizely, BlueVenn by Upland Software, Exponea by Bloomreach: That’s a trend. At the same time, independent CDPs like Treasure Data, Amperity, Tealium and Blueshift raised significant amounts in funding this year.

Is the independent CDP category under threat or not? I asked Tasso Argyros, the founder and CEO of a leading enterprise CDP, ActionIQ, what’s going on.

“My view is that the independent CDPs that have been sold so far were either struggling to break through and had given up on being leaders of the CDP category, or they weren’t core CDPs – by core CDPs I mean the CX hub.” An example of the first kind, AgilOne, was such an early entrant to the category that its product was built on outdated technology, he said.

“In the other category are companies like Segment. Segment was a tag manager and they were trying to expand more towards intelligence and orchestration, but the reality is that their roots were in capturing and moving pieces of data around, not so much in doing analytics and orchestration – so it was hard for them to compete as an enterprise standalone.”

Argyros, naturally, sees an opportunity for ActionIQ to be the dominant independent player in the space. “That opportunity is massive and it would be too early for us to sell right now. That being said, how much space is there for dominant CDP platforms? I think two or three at most. Everyone else will get acquired at the end of the day – that’s my prediction.”

Part of the value proposition of an independent CDP, he explained, is to enable a best-of-breed stack. Adopting an Adobe or Oracle or Salesforce CDP can have the effect of locking brands in to other solutions from those big players. “You go with ActionIQ, you can have a truly best-of-breed stack. We play well with anyone.”

Treasure Data, another CDP with large enterprise brands on its client list, raised $234 million in venture funding in November. Founder and CEO Kazuki Ohta echoed Argyros’s observations. “The vendors who cannot grow faster and cannot raise the money from VCs are obviously trying to find an exit,” he said. “This is a hot industry, it’s a good time to exit.”

Like ActionIQ, Treasure Data’s proffer is vendor neutrality. “It’s sort of like a Switzerland approach,” said Ohta. “

The need for independent CDPs

I turned to one of the closest observers of the category, David Raab, founder of the CDP Institute and an occasional MarTech contributor. “The companies buying them, in most cases, have multichannel delivery systems. Those systems are often acquired and not natively integrated, and they realize they need that CDP to pull the data together to integrate their own systems, as well as pull in data from other channels that they’re not managing. There’s a demand from their buyers for unified data. It’s really hard to build a CDP so it makes more sense to buy one. Easier and quicker.”

Does this trend threaten the independent CDP category? “It certainly shrinks the market for the independents,” he said. “What we expect to happen is that the independents will specialize more in particular niches, making it easier for them to defend their position.”

There will continue to be a need for independent CDPs at the enterprise level, where multiple functions – not just marketing – need to be able to manage and activate customer data. “That’s where ActionIQ sits, that’s where Treasure Data sits,” Raab said. “You need that CDP to be vendor-neutral. Then there will be the verticals, specializing in transport or healthcare or education. We’re seeing a lot of CDPs that are vertical industry specialists and that’s also a defensible position.”

In fact, ActionIQ recently staked its claim as a CDP for the healthcare space, while Treasure Data, which started out selling into marketing organizations, is now explicitly addressing other functions in the enterprise with its CDP for Service and CDP for Sales.

This made sense to Raab. “There are multiple buying centers. Marketing has been the primary one, but customer success has always been a buying center for CDPs. There are paths into companies which are not the marketing path or the IT path or the data team path. There’s a value in department verticalization where you have special features that work best for customer success or for whatever department you’re selling into.”

One thing that puzzled me initially about offering CDPs for what Raab calls departmental verticals is that it surely creates data siloes. Ohta explained: “It’s just a fact that our customer’s organization is siloed and also data is siloed. If you look at the 150-plus CDPs in the market, they’re trying to pitch their product primarily to the marketing department. We’re trying to change our customers’ behavior to use data in every single division so they can better serve their customers in every part of the customer journey.”

The next step, then, is to pull together the profiles in marketing and service and sales siloes, to produce a comprehensive view? “Yes,” said Ohta, “of course.”

Next generation campaign management

It’s practically received wisdom that not every solution offered as a CDP is a real CDP, but in fact it might be accurate to say that there have always been different types of CDP. The distinctions are becoming starker as some CDPs aim to be not just the single source of truth on customers, but the hub for orchestrating and delivering customer experiences.

This type of full-service CDP goes by various names. Vijay Chittoor, founder and CEO of Blueshift, calls CDPs which deliver profile unification, audience segmentation and campaign activation “smart hub” CDPs, a term borrowed from Gartner. Argyros talks about CDPs as the “CX hub” or “next generation campaign management.”

“There are a couple of types of CDP in the market,” said Ohta. “One is the vendors that came from a tag management space where they focus on the website and mobile data collection side. The other one is more on the activation, the execution side. There’s a lot of confusion around the category itself, I admit.” Treasure Data, said Ohta, could expand into execution, but it positions itself as being able to activate the data, but feeding it into other solutions – ESPs, messagine channels and so on – for execution.

The idea that the main job of the CDP should be to connect data is just wrong, Argyros told me. “We do it because we have to.” How much depends on whether the client has their data in order. “Connecting data is a means to an end, and if we don’t have to connect data we love that. We can deploy faster. What the CDP is becoming,” he said, “is essentially a next generation campaign management platform and a next generation customer intelligence platform.”

He continued: “In the past, campaign management was completely disconnected from the data, because there wasn’t much data to begin with. Now that you have terabytes and terabytes of data, your campaign management platform has to do very large-scale data processing. What you see is a collapse of the data mart that was used for campaigns into a single stack that’s called a CDP today. It’s like campaign management 3.0.”

Customer intelligence is critical too, Argyros argues. The tools for doing customer intelligence outside a CDP are inherently limited. Web analytics is restricted to website activity. Business intelligence gives good aggregate level data but cannot provide customer journey level insights. “The CDP has become the de facto place to gather intelligence and tie it really well with campaigns. You go from data to intelligence to action in the same platform, which is the CDP.”

Read next: Enterprise Customer Data Platforms: A marketer’s guide

Will smart hub CDPs make marketing automation redundant?

Raab doesn’t see CDPs usurping the role of MA. “Most marketing automation systems are really sending out emails primarily and there are some CDPs that can send out emails.” He offered Algonomy as an example of a CDP with core email marketing capabilities.

“There’s quite a few that have very strong delivery capabilities, channel-facing capabilities, and they’re absolutely doing what marketing automation can do,” he said. “In other cases, not so much. Marketing automation often has a B2B flavor to it and there’s a close integration with the CRM system. You have a bunch of specialist features that you’re getting from a marketing automation system that may not be built into a CDP.”

There’s also a key difference in the way data is structured in marketing automation and CDPs, he added. “You have a big bulk data store that stores everything in all the gruesome detail – semi-structured at best.” That’s the CDP. “Then you have a more structured data store that does all your segmentation and runs your marketing automation and so on. You’re always going to have basically two different kinds of technology, each doing what they’re best at. Are they in the same system? Great, that saves you some trouble.”

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Native video tops social media in brand awareness study

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Native video tops social media in brand awareness study


Native video ads have a greater impact than video ads on social and video platforms, a new study from Kantar reported. The Multichannel Brand Impact study measured video ad effectiveness for brand goals in native environments against other environments.

Favorability. Participants in the study gave a favorable rating 59% of the time when exposed to a native video ad. That number dropped to 50% on social platforms and 51% in a video platform environment.

Source: Kantar Context Lab/Taboola.

Awareness. 33% of participants displayed top-of-mind awareness about a brand when shown a native video ad. This displayed a marked improvement over the control group, which only had 14% top-of-mind awareness.

When native video was combined with social video ads, the awareness climbed to 49%.

Impact of native ads. Taboola, which sells content discovery and native advertising products, sponsored the study.

“With industry estimates indicating that video advertising in the U.S. will reach nearly $50B this year, brands have a lot of opportunities to influence customers, as long as they’re choosing the right platforms and mix of platforms to relay their messages,” said Taboola CEO and founder Adam Singolda, in a company release.

Read next: Taboola acquires Connexity

Why we care. Social media is where consumers receive word-of-mouth recommendations from family and friends. Still a potent source of brand impact for marketers. But social is also a highly contentious space for politics and other turnoffs. It’s not the ace in the hole it once was, and should be complemented with other native environments in a digital video campaign.


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About The Author

Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country’s first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on “innovation theater” at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.



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Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases

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Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases


Summer’s here and the shoppers are wary. Consumer spending increased in May, but only by 0.2%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This explains why 76% of U.S. shoppers are searching online for reviews and better prices before buying in store, according to a new Adobe Commerce study of sentiment among over 1,000 U.S. consumers. Also, when they’re in a store 60% are using their phone to look for better prices elsewhere.

Another sign of the slowing economy: 24% say they won’t be able to take advantage of big summer holiday sales because they have less discretionary money to spend due to inflation and the higher cost of goods. 

Read next: Adobe: Online prices were up only 2% in May

On the good news side: 76% of those planning to participate in summer sales say they’ll spend more or the same amount as last year. And the motivation varies — more than half (56%) of consumers say they save money by shopping on Prime Day and other sales events, while others want to get ahead of their seasonal holiday (32%) and back-to-school shopping (23%).

However, most of those who intend to buy don’t believe big retailers’ promises of deeper discounts because of overstocking. Almost 65% expect discounts to be smaller than last year. 

Other findings:

  • 61% said receiving personalized promotions or recommendations will make them more likely to make a purchase.
  • 43% said they are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers buy now, pay later.
  • 72% want the online purchases delivered the same day or via two-day shipping.
  • 50% are now more likely to make retail purchases on their phones, 26% prefer in-store shopping and 24% prefer shopping via their computer
  • 57% search for and buy products online if they can’t find them in stores.
Categories for which consumers report using buy now, purchase later.

Why we care. Inflation and higher interest rates are, as expected, taking an increased toll on consumer spending. That makes marketing more important than ever, via activities like personalization and customer experience. That should also include offering payment options like buy now, pay later. People are used to putting everything on a credit card, but interest rates are making that less attractive to them.


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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.



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Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Building a Marketing Backlog

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Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots


We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. In recent articles, we covered the pieces in the first stop of the navigator, the Collaborative Planning Workshop.

Now we’re going to dive into the next stop on your agile marketing journey — the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is a repeatable cadence for delivering valuable marketing experiences early and often. Within the Launch Cycle there are five key components — Marketing Backlog, Cycle Planning, Daily Huddle, Team Showcase and Team Improvement. If you’re familiar with the Scrum framework, there are a lot of similarities here — with a few different nuances to make it more applicable to marketers.

Building and managing an effective Marketing Backlog

Now, let’s dive into the Marketing Backlog and some tips and tricks for marketers to be most effective. 

The Marketing Backlog is an ordered list of prioritized work that the agile team will pull from to work on in their Launch Cycle. The backlog is emergent, not static, and changes as new information is learned. 

This part of the framework is incredibly important and can have a major impact on how marketers work. First of all, there’s one shared place where all work lives. This avoids work happening “behind the scenes” that no one knows about.

In fact, one client that I worked with took all of the work that was already assigned to stakeholders, put it in a single backlog and realized that it would take five years to deliver! It’s with this level of transparency that teams and leaders can begin to visualize everything the team is doing and start to really understand what’s important and what may just be someone’s pet project.

There are many tools for managing your marketing backlog and they all have their pros and cons. The main thing to watch out for is ensuring that everyone on the team, as well as stakeholders have access. We want to build a transparent system.

If you’ve started with the Collaborative Planning Workshop, you’ve already begun to build out the Marketing Backlog. The items in your Minimally Viable Launch will go near the top, and other items will fall below. Work is never guaranteed until the team starts working on it, and even then sound business reasons could cause them to pivot, although that shouldn’t be the norm.

Prioritizing the backlog is one of the key responsibilities of the Marketing Owner. While they don’t do this in a vacuum and conversations with stakeholders are imperative, this role has the ultimate authority to decide what order the team will work on and which items won’t be considered (there are always way more good ideas than time).

The role of the Marketing Owner

The Marketing Owner needs to really understand the business value that each idea brings. Each marketing backlog should be thought of in terms of:

  • Level of effort it will take the team to complete (let’s face it — all things aren’t created equal. Building a Tesla may take longer than a base model Honda, so think through marketing ideas as well).
  • What value does it bring to customers? Joy? Satisfaction? Solves a problem? Addresses a cause?
  • What will the business gain from this idea, and how does it tie to business goals, KPIs and revenue?

Stakeholders, customers and team members should all be thinking about new ideas all of the time and everyone is invited to submit ideas to the backlog. However, it’s at the Marketing Owner’s discretion to decide which ideas will be worked on by the team and when.


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Work should never be directly assigned to a team member in agile marketing. It should be submitted to the backlog or discussed with the marketing owner as it needs to be visible and prioritized among everything else.

In agile marketing, backlog items should be used to test and learn and are thought of as micro-experiments, rather than large campaign blasts. 

While a backlog item may be for a post on Facebook, the team should be thinking in terms of testing elements, such as content. If the content is successful, similar content pieces would be on the backlog. However, if the content doesn’t perform well, the team would want to think of new backlog items with different content.


agile marketing workflow

Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!


The backlog may contain some business as usual items to keep the lights on, but the majority of items should be small, testable experiments that can quickly get to customers for real-time feedback.

If you haven’t started a marketing backlog yet, what are you waiting for?


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”



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