Good morning, welcome to Friday.

A number of martech vendors stirred the pot yesterday by publicly pledging to design business software that eliminates data silos by shifting away from a CRM-centric approach. The formal declaration of the companies’ shared ideals was published in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal and displays their united stance on developing products that don’t lock their customers into a solution suite. Instead, they want to build tools that can serve organizations and their departments independently but enable users to have more freedom to share data.

Despite legacy CRM vendors spending more than $30 billion over the last two years acquiring different applications and technologies, it hasn’t been enough to solve the underlying issues. Acquisitions still force users into using a suite, limiting their customers’ choices or creating the need for IT departments to invest time into costly integrations for outside solutions.

Location data provider Factual is launching a new product called Data Enrichment, which supplements first-party data with additional audience insights built on mobile-location and real-world behaviors. The company says this allows companies to gain a deeper understanding of their own customers than first-party data would enable on its own.

As privacy regulations force marketers and brands to develop or better utilize their first-party data, data enhancement offerings like Factual’s will become more important. The audience insights gained from location data is an obvious and powerful data-enhancement tool. It remains to be seen, however, how deeply the location intelligence industry is affected by CCPA, OS location alerts and increasing consumer privacy concerns surrounding location.

We have more below including a Soapbox on why brands need to take a bolder approach to customer personalization. Have a great weekend.

Jennifer Cannon,
Senior Editor 


Take a bolder approach with customer personalization

The good news about proactive privacy compliance: If you’re confident you meet high standards when it comes to customer data, you can be bolder in your approach to identity resolution and more personalized marketing tactics.

For a while, analysts cautioned marketers on the risks of being “creepy” with customer data, with the idea that customers are turned off when brands are too on-the-nose with their tactics. And while there’s obviously a line (and consequences for crossing it), customers are more open-minded to more personalized experiences. In fact, reports show most customers are NOT creeped out by increased personalization, and the brands that lose out are ones that are overly generic in their communications.

Don’t shy away from personalization strategies. Customers understand what brands should know about them, and they’re disappointed with bland email and retargeting efforts that don’t speak to their needs. It’s important to gain more accurate data about your customers and use it accordingly.

Kyle Henderick is senior director of client services at Yes Marketing.


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Acquisitions by Meredith and Dentsu Aegis Network and Soul Machines’ latest funding round

Meredith Corp picks up some new tech. The women-focused media company Meredith Corporation has acquired the digital platform SwearBy. The tech enables brands to crowdsource word of mouth recommendations, giving Meredith the ability to share products that women “swear by.” The media company said it will expand on SwearBy’s current features, functionality, categories and distribution. “We have a rich community of our own editors as well as respected influencers who regularly share their favorite products and services. SwearBy immediately provides us a platform to host these recommendations as well as offer consumers the ability to easily store and share their own SwearBys with friends,” said Meredith’s Chief Digital Officer Catherine Levene. Financial details on the acquisition were not disclosed. 

Dentsu Aegis Network beefs up their analytics capabilities. E-Nor, a Google Analytics platform, has been acquired by Dentsu Aegis Network, a family of digital agencies. The analytics platform will be part of Cardinal Path, Dentsu’s marketing analytics branch. “We are bringing together business-critical, geographically diverse, and difficult-to-find talent which will further extend our delivery scale and thought leadership within the Google Marketing and Cloud market,” said Cardinal Path Co-CEO Alex Langshur about the acquisition. Cardinal Path was purchased by Dentsu in 2016. The company reports this latest acquisition will help it scale its analytics offerings and competitive positioning.  

Soul Machines raises $40 million in funding. Soul Machines, an autonomous animation platform, has raised $40 million in Series B funding led by Temasek, with participation from Lakestar and Salesforce ventures. The company’s technology enables brands to create interactive customer experiences, as well as digital versions of brand ambassadors and employees, via AI, computational brain models and experiential learning. “We’re proud to announce Salesforce Ventures’ investment in Soul Machines because it has an obsessive focus on improving customer experience by using artificial intelligence technology in new ways,” said Salesforce Ventures Head of Australia Rob Keith. The company plans to put the funding toward its global expansion efforts and research and development initiatives.


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What we're reading

We've curated our picks from across the web so you can retire your feed reader

Why Marketers Can’t Realize the Full Potential of Their Martech Stack – CMS Wire

Facebook launches PyTorch 1.4 with mobile customization and Java support – VentureBeat

DTCs Must Mind The Mid-Funnel Gap As They Look To New Channels For Growth – AdExchanger

How to Capture the Attention of Multiscreen Consumers – Street Fight

Google sets final timeline for killing and replacing Chrome Apps – 9to5 Google

Mozilla lays off 70 people as non-search revenue fails to materialize – Ars Technica