Tag management vendor Ensighten announced this week that it acquired Anametrix, a cloud-based marketing analytics tool that allows companies to unify data from paid, owned and earned media to optimize their marketing campaigns.
Ensighten says the combination of the two platforms “unlocks the true power of customer data” by bringing together digital and offline data from disparate sources, such as web analytics, mobile apps, social media and CRM.
Web analytics consultant Francois Salvert, who wrote a review of Anametrix on TrustRadius, says that Anametrix is a solid product that is still evolving, and has “proven to be capable of handling data complexity.” The acquisition means a stronger and larger development team for Anametrix, and a “more horizontal product approach to web analytics” for Ensighten, he says. “It could be a great play, as long as their product remains open to other solutions.” Ensighten confirmed that the Anametrix product will remain open to integration with competitive tag management vendors.
Vendors such as Ensighten, Tealium and Signal (formerly BrightTag), many of whom started out as tag management solutions, are increasingly competing against the analytics and marketing cloud vendors who provide tag management as a free or low-cost part of their other offerings. Adobe purchased the tag management tool Satellite in 2013 and created Adobe Tag Manager. Google launched Google Tag Manager in 2012. Qubit, an up-and-coming vendor offering web analytics, testing, targeting and personalization, offers tag management through Qubit OpenTag.
Tag management systems (TMS) allow companies to consolidate the website code that various technology vendors (such as web analytics, personalization, marketing automation, and display advertising) require be placed on a website. The main value propositions of a TMS are to improve website performance and data collection, and allow marketers to control the deployment and management of new marketing technologies without heavy reliance on IT.
However, the embedded tag management tools now offered by the likes of Adobe and Google have similar value propositions, making it difficult for pure-play TMS vendors to compete on tag management alone. Stephane Hamel, Director of Innovation at analytics consultancy Cardinal Path, and expert featured in the TrustRadius Buyer’s Guide to Digital Analytics Software, wrote in a review of Google Tag Manager, “Some competing vendor claims include data ownership, vendor independence, faster processing, data warehousing of all data tags, etc. However, in many cases, those can be debunked, are not mature, or not applicable to most client scenarios.”
He also says, “Tag Management is a problem that should have been solved by web analytics vendors a long time ago.” Of the Ensighten acquisition of Anametrix, Hamel says, “It strengthens the value proposition and becomes a differentiating factor in a niche market bound for further consolidation and clearer demonstration of benefits.”
One way TMS vendors compete with marketing cloud vendors is by allowing marketers to build their own custom marketing cloud by seamlessly integrating various best-of-breed solutions. Marketing cloud vendors such as Adobe, Oracle, IBM and Salesforce usually say that opting for a cloud solution versus combining best-of-breed solutions allows for better integration. Consultants and experts have differing opinions on the suite versus best-of-breed question.
Ensighten founder and CEO Josh Minion says, “The closed suites offered by the incumbent marketing cloud vendors have been developed by acquiring solutions and loosely integrating them. Due to the opportunistic nature of acquisitions these marketing clouds have grown in an ad-hoc manner and the primary focus is on trying to make their disparate tools work together. In contrast, Ensighten’s open marketing platform was founded on the principle of supporting all third-party marketing providers and technologies. The result is a next generation open marketing platform which enables marketers to tailor solutions to meet their specific needs, and future-proof their marketing technology investments.”
Tag management vendors are now branching out beyond tag management and re-positioning themselves as data platforms that help companies achieve a 360-view of the customer. Ensighten’s acquisition of Anametrix is the latest example. Tealium launched AudienceStream last year, which the company says is an “audience segmentation and data distribution platform that helps marketers drive more profitable customer interactions across digital touch points, using their existing cloud applications.”
David Ray, Corporate Vice President at New York Life Insurance, wrote in a review of Tealium on TrustRadius, “Its AudienceStream product takes Tealium well beyond its initial TM solution, and into both personalization and multi-channel territory.”
These actions are likely in part a response to the threat of suite vendors adding tag management to their arsenals. However, it is also a recognition of the opportunity presented by the increasing desire businesses have to use data from multiple touch points in new ways to optimize the customer experience and drive revenue. Tag management vendors sit at the juncture of various marketing technologies and data collection channels.
Jason Burby, President, Americas of the marketing agency POSSIBLE, says by managing the tags on companies’ websites, tag management systems can pull together information about users and even build up a customer profile: “It’s the connective glue, if you will.”
As such, tag management vendors—whether pure-play or part of a suite—are uniquely positioned to respond to this growing desire to unify and act on all available data.