Looking Back on the Digital Marketing Industry—4 Notable Things that Happened this Year


Far be it for us to get just a little bit nostalgic… But as we head full-throttle into what for the majority of marketers is the busiest time of year, we’re taking this opportunity to look back at 4 significant events that took place in the digital marketing industry in 2016:

1. CASL crackdowns: In 2015, the industry witnessed some major legal undertakings against several advertisers for marketing activities that were deemed to contravene Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), including big-name brands like Rogers Media and rental car giants Avis and Budget.

Though complaints to the Spam Reporting Centre hadn’t slackened by any considerable measure by mid-2016, the limited number of announcements from the CRTC on CASL infractions did seem to suggest that marketers had finally wised up and adapted their CEM practices to the new legislation. Then, Snap! Crackle! Pop!™ : Kellogg Canada Inc. got hit with enforcement actions for CEMs sent from October–December 2014 without consent of their recipients, to the tune of $60,000 in monetary penalties. In addition to this amount, the company undertook to comply with and ensure that any third parties authorized to send CEMs on its behalf complies with the Act and Regulations (CRTC), and also agreed to review and update its compliance program.

Expect to see more CRTC announcements leading up to and after the next phase of CASL legislation—the private right of action (PROA)—goes into force on July 1, 2017.

[For more on PROA, see the “Reflecting on CASL” post and check out our CASL resources page, jam-packed with insights, articles, and tools to stay in-the-know on CASL’s finer points.]

2. More M&A madness: Acquisition activity was strong throughout 2016, with more technology players crossing the boardroom-table divide via acquisitions of consulting and agency services-companies (e.g., IBM’s acquisition of Resource/Ammirati in January).

According to KPMG (cited by eMarketer), the most important trend driving M&A activity in the digital tech sector in 2016 is data analytics.

Other notable M&A in 2016 include:

Look for more tech-co M&A activity, as leaders like Google, Facebook, Adobe, IBM, and others continue to strategize around making their companies one-stop-shops for brand marketers.

3. Marketing Cloud (MC) dominancy: Scott Brinker’s infographic Marketing Technology Landscape, first started in 2011 with 150 companies, now features 3,500 companies spread across six major categories.

As this Contently article states, “MarTech is everywhere,” and the infographic from Brinker only serves to highlight that MarTech and the MC sector continues to grow at a break-neck pace. But what’s also clear is that there’s more stability at the top than the industry’s often led to believe. Specifically, several leading firms—namely Adobe and Salesforce—continue to stand head and shoulders above the rest.

Following their ongoing primacy on the 2016 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs (where they topped 22 platforms whose companies had a minimum revenue of USD$25M in 2014 and global reach and staffing), these two big guns of the MarTech world continued to make news on the marketing front this past year.

‘Digital Marketing Hub’

is a platform that provides marketers 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. It typically includes a bundle of native marketing applications and capabilities, but it is extensible through published services with which certified partners can integrate.” (More details: https://www.gartner.com/doc/3182823/magic-quadrant-digital-marketing-hubs)

Adobe: As noted above, this U.S.-based SaaS provider announced their imminent acquisition of TubeMogul in late-November. But this move to integrate specialized video and Demand-side Platform (DSP) MarTech into their already-robust MC capabilities is just one more way that they’re focusing on building a more comprehensive end-to-end advertising platform for brand marketers. In March, they
announced the introduction of a “cross-device co-op”
that would allow marketers to track consumer movements across the devices they use throughout their customer journeys. Then, in May they announced the acquisition of LiveFyre—a content marketing and engagement platform that enables brands to integrate real-time social experiences into their content strategy, and would be incorporated into Adobe Experience Manager. And at Adobe MAX 2016 in early-November, they
introduced Adobe Sensei
, a new framework and set of intelligent services that are meant to improve the design and delivery of digital user experiences, leveraging machine learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and deep learning across the entire Adobe Cloud platform.

Salesforce: During its epic Dreamforce conference in early-October, Salesforce introduced its own version of next-level AI technology, Einstein: Touted as “having your own data scientist dedicated to bringing AI to every customer relationship,”
Einstein technology
is built into the Salesforce platform, and offers advanced AI capabilities that learn from a multitude of layers of customer data pulled from CRM platforms, email, calendars, social channels, IoT, and other sources, to deliver smart, data-driven predictions and recommendations in context on marketing campaigns. Industry pundits are expecting big things to come from Salesforce Einstein’s integrated set of technologies.

We anticipate some exciting new developments from these two key platform partners as we move forward into 2017.

4. Gigya’s CIAM solutions won big awards: In October, this leader in Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) solutions received the highest score among 18 vendors in the B2C use case in Gartner’s report “Critical Capabilities for Identity and Access Management as a Service, Worldwide.” This was after they were
selected to power Customer Identity Management
for the new Adobe Primetime OTT video streaming offering (in March), and were named the 2015 Adobe MC Innovation Partner of the Year EMEA (in May).

With more consumers using multiple log-in and authentication methods than ever before—including both manual customer registration and engagement tools like Single-Sign-on as well as more advanced biometric-based technology—we expect to see some big things coming down the pipeline from this industry-leading MarTech provider in the coming months.

Did we miss any major movements in the MarTech industry in 2016? Let us know in the comments section below or
drop us a line
. We love to talk about all things MarTech and digital Strategy-to-Execution!