16 Vendors Under The Glass, As Gartner Releases First Digital Marketing Hub Quadrant

KihnGartner Research’s first-ever Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs, released Wednesday, assumes that ad tech, marketing tech and CRM will naturally converge. As such, it pits enterprise platforms like Salesforce.com against ad tech regulars like Rocket Fuel [x+1] and Turn.

No doubt many in the industry will debate whether or not this is fair, or whether Gartner might be jumping the gun using the same criteria to evaluate these very different vendors.

Given Gartner’s parameters, the vendors most commonly associated with marketing clouds – Adobe, Salesforce.com and Oracle – led the pack as “Leaders," gauged in terms of “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.”

The “Visionaries”  include ad tech regulars including Rocket Fuel/[x+1], IgnitionOne, Turn, Sitecore and Neustar.

The “Challengers” – vendors that need to match lip service with execution – include IBM and Marketo.

Finally the “Niche Players” – vendors expanding beyond their core backgrounds – include Alliance Data’s Conversant, MediaMath, DataXu, Teradata, HP and Infor.

Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner who co-authored the report alongside fellow analysts Andrew Frank and Jake Sorofman, is aware of the risk comparing apples and oranges.

“Gartner’s putting a stake in the ground and we feel the world of CRM and advertising are no longer separate from a marketer’s point of view,” he explained.

Gartner selected the 16 vendors because they all had a master audience profile, unified workflows, cross-channel executions, a measurement or analytics layer and made over $50 million in revenue. It whittled that list down from 50 vendors at the start of the selection process.

The Visionaries

The ad tech crowd was well-represented among Gartner’s Visionaries. Four key players – Rocket Fuel [x+1], Turn, Neustar and IgnitionOne – were lauded for their innovations in programmatic technology.

“While the Visionaries are generally much smaller, and in most cases younger than the Leaders and Challengers, they boast higher customer satisfaction, a laser focus on measurable value and the talent and resources of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors,” Kihn said.

Sitecore had a different value proposition. Historically a content management or site optimization tool, Sitecore has worked to revamp that image. Kihn compared the transition to Adobe’s, a Magic Quadrant Leader.

“Adobe started on the site with content and site experience analytics and moved out from there,” Kihn said, noting all the many ways vendors are creating hubs. He acknowledges Sitecore, “doesn’t really have an ad tech offering,” but it has ecommerce capabilities, which are “building blocks.”

Kihn said [x+1] and Turn “nailed” their master audience profiles and analytics capabilities built into their respective data-management platforms (DMPs).

And both Neustar and IgnitionOne were Visionaries because each acquired data management capabilities (Neustar bought Aggregate Knowledge and IgnitionOne bought Knotice).

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The Leaders

When one thinks marketing clouds, one tends to see Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce.com. All three were listed as Gartner’s Magic Quadrant Leaders.

Adobe, which rated highest for its “completeness of vision” and tied for first with Oracle for its “ability to execute,” nonetheless had ongoing integration challenges in piecing together its stack, Kihn said.

Oracle has similar integration problems, though their acquisitions – notably BlueKai – allowed them to buy their way into hubdum, Kihn said, “which really boosted Oracle in the Leader quadrant.” He added the presence of a DMP and tag management system were key.

Yet, Salesforce.com is a Leader without a DMP.

Kihn called ExactTarget Journey Builder “probably the most usable campaign creator we’ve seen.” He added an asterisk: while Salesforce.com may not compete with the likes of a MediaMath or Rocket Fuel in ad tech, they’ve got a clear cut of the CRM and first-party data pool.

The Challengers

IBM and Marketo have equally expressed commitments to digital marketing, but haven't necessarily matched that intent with execution, particularly in digital advertising tech.

IBM has its work cut out unifying its ExperienceOne stack, which combines acquisitions like Xtify’s mobile messaging platform, Silverpop’s marketing automation system, Coremetrics’ analytics and Unica’s cross-channel campaign management. Kihn noted some survey respondents complained IBM lacked core features and had weak digital advertising capabilities.

Marketo, historically a B2B marketing tool, recently added B2C capabilities via its Customer Engagement Platform and third-party data partnerships with companies like Acxiom.

“Marketo’s been vocal about, ‘We’ll be the operating system and you can build your own cloud using us,’ which is a compelling vision of the hub,” said Kihn.

The Rest Of The Pack

Niche Players, according to Gartner, include MediaMath, DataXu, Conversant, Teradata, HP and Infor. Kihn said these six were particularly specialized, but as they continue to acquire technologies (or are themselves acquired), the challenge is to broaden their scope of their cultures beyond their core background.

Conversant, for instance, is a Niche Player because it’s hard to figure out the extent to which it will change, given its acquisition by Alliance Data Services for its Epsilon subsidiary.

“Marketing hub buyers value openness and seek integration with best of breed solutions, which leaves room for Niche Players,” Kihn noted.

Several Niche Players are known predominately in their inner circles. MediaMath, for instance, is “a pioneer in programmatic media,” while Infor is more relegated to the call-center and enterprise workflow management space.

So what happened to other digital marketing platform providers, most notably SAP or eBay Enterprise? The evaluation process might have kept them out of the Quadrant. Much of Gartner’s surveying occurred over the summer and both SAP and eBay Enterprise released customer experience and commerce updates this fall.

And, in the case of newly public HubSpot, “they call themselves a hub, but they’re missing some key parts," such as enterprise functionality beyond the small-to-midmarket set, Kihn said.

 

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