It would be fair for readers of Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs” report to be taken aback.
Why would Gartner evaluate media-buying platforms (MediaMath and Turn), marketing clouds (Adobe and Oracle) and data management platforms (Krux and Nielsen/eXelate) with the same criteria? Usually those categories are complementary, not competitive.
In the report, released last week, marketing tech vendors Oracle, Adobe, Marketo and Salesforce scored the highest due to their ability to execute and for “completeness of vision.” Ad tech companies MediaMath, Krux, Turn, DataXu, Rocket Fuel, Neustar and IgnitionOne were pegged as visionaries, but as a whole were dinged because of their lack of execution channels beyond paid media.
Experian Marketing Services, IBM and Epsilon’s Conversant earned high marks for their ability to execute, but fell short for completeness of vision – mostly because Gartner didn’t feel their stacks were fully integrated. Finally, companies (and this isn’t an exhaustive accounting) including Nielsen/eXelate, Marin Software, Sizmek and Teradata – which is trying to offload its marketing apps biz – were considered niche players.
So what do these vendors have in common? It comes down to the definition of a hub – and the way it differs from an ad tech stack or marketing cloud, according to Gartner analyst Andrew Frank, one of the authors of the “Quadrant.”
“A hub is the element at the center of the cloud that enables everything to work together,” he said. “The marketing cloud can contain any number of applications that can be as integrated or non-integrated as the provider wants. The hub has more specific requirements around integration and open APIs.”
Officially for Gartner, a hub must “provide marketers and applications with standardized access to audience profile data, content, workflow elements, messaging and common analytic functions for orchestrating and optimizing multichannel campaigns, conversations, experiences and data collection across online and offline channels, both manually and programmatically.”
And a surprisingly large number of vendors described themselves as “hubs,” which is one of the reasons for the marketing hub quadrant’s vendor diaspora, said Frank and report co-author Martin Kihn.
“We turned away more vendors than we had in the [“Magic Quadrant”] – and we hit the limit in terms of size,” Kihn said. “Every vendor defines ‘hub’ in a way that plays to their strengths – but may not agree with our criteria. I’d say buyer beware: Not all ‘hubs’ are really hubs.”
This year, Gartner’s digital marketing hub quadrant focused on audience profile management, Frank said. Hence the inclusion of Krux, which didn’t participate last year. In fact, both Frank and Kihn singled out Krux as a surprise performer.
“They are focusing on the real value points in ad tech: enabling direct deals and second-party data pools and building an extensible customer data platform,” Kihn said. “We were also positively impressed by MediaMath’s willingness to integrate with marketing tech stacks like IBM and Oracle.”
So within Gartner’s criteria, companies that did well enabled integration with other vendor tools and empowered marketers to onboard data to drive more functions. Across the board, any time Gartner criticized a vendor in its report it related to some sort of integration challenge – usually a delay or an overly complicated process in connecting different tool sets.
Participation in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant” was limited to digital marketing hub providers that had – among other criteria – at least $25 million in 2014 revenue, global presence and a significant amount of global enterprise clients.