Ask someone to define a digital marketing hub and you're likely to get a broad range of answers.

Gartner defines it as "software that spans multiple digital marketing domains (mobile, social and multichannel) to provide integrated access to applications and workflows, adding capabilities such as collaboration, data integration and common analytics."

Against those parameters, you're likely to think of legacy vendors most commonly associated with marketing clouds – Adobe, Salesforce.com and Oracle. In fact, in Gartner Research’s first-ever Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs (registration required), those three vendors are rated as Leaders for their “completeness of vision” and “ability to execute.”

But this is an evolving technology, and Gartner expects the eventual convergence of ad tech, marketing tech and customer relationship management. So if you look past the three leaders as well as the two challengers — IBM and Marketo — things start to get a little more interesting.

The visionaries quadrant includes a mishmash of expertise. There's Sitecore, best known for its content management system (CMS). And then there's four programmatic ad tech firms: IgnitionOne, Neustar, Rocket Fuel and Turn.

Which one of these five visionaries offers the best digital marketing hub? We decided to go to the sources.

Seizing New Opportunities

Even Gartner acknowledges this is a hard space to wrap your head around. The market for digital marketing hubs is still in its infancy and "characterized by customer confusion (sometimes bordering on frustration)." It's full of a fragmented, diverse hodgepodge of competitors with different strengths and varying capabilities, all approaching both the problem and its solution in different ways.

Gartner notes described the companies in the Visionaries quadrant as ones "that have parlayed success in areas adjacent to the digital marketing hub to seize the new opportunities that hub orientation represents."

Visionaries are smaller, younger, scrappier and arguably more innovative than the Leaders or Challengers. "They boast high customer satisfaction, a laser focus on measurable value, and the talent and resources of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors. In this volatile market, any could breach the Leaders quadrant within a year," Gartner concludes.

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The Question

Gartner identified five companies as visionaries in the Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs. Why is your platform the best of the five?

The Answers

Roger Barnette, President, IgnitionOne

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Barnette founded New York City-based IgnitionOne as SearchIgnite in 2004. He led the expansion of the online marketing platform technology company, growing it into one of the world’s largest media platforms, managing more than $1 billion in online advertising. In 2011, the company was rebranded as IgnitionOne to coincide with the launch of its digital marketing suite. As President of IgnitionOne, Barnette oversees the company’s aggressive growth and technology strategy. He has experience managing and growing emerging technology businesses and is a veteran of the online marketing industry. Tweet to Roger Barnette.

We're pioneers. IgnitionOne has been integrating marketing technology (martech) and advertising technology (adtech) into a central hub since before the industry had the terms “hub” or “cloud.” As pioneers in this space we continue to build innovative solutions to benefit from integrated, centralized data.

Our customers love us. Gartner confirms this with the highest customer satisfaction scores of all vendors surveyed — not just those in the Visionary quadrant. Why? Because we take our client partnerships as seriously as we take our technology. If fact, our innovations come from listening to our customers who have asked for the features, like the ability to integrate disparate systems within our hub and the ability to plug in preferred channel–specific components.

Gartner says IgnitionOne has the most complete vision of any vendor in the visionaries quadrant, second only to Adobe in the entire report. Our technology is built by marketers for marketers. That means that we have the needs of our clients’ top of mind with everything that we do -- the need for speed, simplicity, and for that complete view to better manage and optimize across the entire customer journey path, including display and search.

Finally, we provide integrated solutions, not integration projects. All of our point solutions are fueled by a single, powerful DMP which makes it easy to understand what’s going on in real time and to leverage those insights to identify areas of untapped ROI and ways to better engage.

Todd Wilms, VP Digital, Neustar

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A brand evangelist and social media leader, Wilms drives the vision and strategy for all of the internal and external communications at Sterling, Va.-based Neustar. He was most recently SAP’s head of social business strategy, where he helped establish SAP as a social business and transform its marketing direction from “helping sales sell” to “helping customers buy.” He has penned more than 140 articles as a chief contributor to Forbes, is a popular keynote address speaker and is a guest lecturer at multiple universities. Before SAP, he served as marketing leader for several brands, including PayPal, George P. Johnson, Emptoris and PeopleSoft. Tweet to Todd Wilms.

Brands rely on Neustar to promote, personalize and protect their brands. Since 1996 we’ve managed a massive repository of data that is constantly updating and links information to critical consumer intelligence (name, phone, addresses, emails, digital linkages, etc.). This is where Neustar excels -- in the ability to offer and analyze the largest and most up-to-date consumer data set (online and offline). Seeing tremendous opportunity in turning this data into actionable insights to marketers, Neustar acquired Targus Info in 2011 and added Aggregate Knowledge in 2013.

The non-intuitive nature of these insights is where their real value lies -- and where Neustar has come to differentiate itself from any other information services company. You may intuitively guess that women who buy $800 shoes also like Italian designer bags. But we at Neustar know they also enjoy boxing and composting. Such unexpected insights are made possible by our proprietary platform developed using new marketing technology combined with our 20-year history in data accuracy and security.

PlatformOne leverages data from over 4 billion consumer transactions every day, cross referenced against 16,000 online and offline attributes with anonymized data from 220M adults across 120M households. Empowered with this sheer volume of data, the platform creates personalized conversations for marketers.

We have amazing strategic partnerships (with comScore, Nielsen, Facebook and others) to help us amplify these insights. Collectively, this has enabled Neustar to identify “non-intuitive insights,” revealing buying propensities that would otherwise remain obscured by traditional segmentation methods. As a result, we enable our customers to better understand their customers.

Neustar’s PlatformOne offers data onboarding, marketing analytics and segmentation, targeting, media intelligence (measurement and adjustment of campaign in flight), lead intelligence, customer interaction management, cross-device connectivity and back end attribution.

John Nardone, EVP and GM, Rocket Fuel

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Last August, automated ad-buying platform Rocket Fuel acquired [x+1], an ad-tech firm offering data-management capabilities and an ad-buying tool of its own, for approximately $230 million. Nardone, the former CEO at [x+1], became EVP and general manager at Redwood City, Calif.-based Rocket Fuel. The new Rocket Fuel has more of the attributes of a "programmatic marketing platform" than the old one, Nardone said. A seasoned marketer, Nardone has held positions with brands such as P&G and Pepsi, as well as with agencies and consultancies such as Modem Media and Marketing Management Analytics. Tweet to John Nardone.

Three key differentiators set Rocket Fuel apart from our competition and demonstrate why the company is poised to lead the digital marketing hub category:

1. Rocket Fuel is the only company in the Magic Quadrant that offers an integrated platform. The Leaders quadrant includes companies that offer individual capabilities that are delivered under the banner of a leading company, but they are not truly integrated. By contrast, Rocket Fuel offers a tightly integrated platform that includes all of the elements of a digital marketing hub, including master audience profile, data management and integration, and intelligent orchestration.

2. Rocket Fuel’s multichannel approach includes both earned and paid media accessible via a real time decisioning engine integrated within our platform. This is a central factor, which places us at a distinct advantage against our competitors. Although there are leading software companies that claim these capabilities across multiple products and business units, there is no way to purchase a single product from them with these capabilities. The fact that Rocket Fuel’s platform incorporates media buying is another significant touch point for our clients to reach their customers, and is unique to our solution relative to the leaders in the Magic Quadrant.

3. Another advantage for Rocket Fuel is our open framework, which is capable of integrating with other best-in-class software systems. Our customers can leverage the combined force of a market-leading data management platform and multi-channel decisioning engine, as well as seamlessly plug it into another preferred system. This set of capabilities does not reside within any of the three leaders who lack a robust media platform.

Darren Guarnaccia, Chief Strategy Officer, Sitecore

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As Chief Strategy Officer at Copenhagen, Denmark-based Sitecore, Guarnaccia leads the company's global strategy and corporate development functions, shaping the company’s products to meet ever-evolving requirements. His responsibilities include strategic planning and management, technical briefings with analysts, press and major clients, mergers and acquisitions as well as strategic alliances. He has a strong marketing and sales background, and experience in developing and positioning new products. Before Sitecore, he was VP of product marketing at RedDot (now OpenText Web Solutions). Tweet to Darren Guarnaccia.

Content is the currency of modern marketing, and content has driven our strategy since day one. We combine a strong heritage in web content management with a connected platform approach, which means marketers who use Sitecore can make sense of massive amounts of data, get a 360-degree view of every customer, and successfully partner with CIOs to deliver the relevant, personalized digital experiences that win customers for life.

We believe it’s crucial that a marketing platform connect all customer information in a single place and action that data to inform the delivery of customer experiences; it’s the only way marketers can deliver relevant experiences and customer engagement across every touch point.

Many vendors offer tools to collect customer data or to deliver marketing communications, but not both. With Sitecore, you can collect, connect and action customer data in real-time, across any channel and at scale.

When companies choose Sitecore, they are integrating a platform that will evolve as new technologies emerge. Sitecore is on a rapid growth trajectory with more than 35 percent topline growth, 1,000 employees around the world, and 4,400 customers including American Express, easyJet and L’Oréal.

Matthew Westover, VP of Product Marketing, Turn

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As Vice President of Product Marketing at Redwood City, Calif.-based Turn, Westover oversees global Product Marketing for the Turn Digital Hub for Marketers, a software platform for audience planning, media execution and real time analytics. Before his current role, he served as general manager of Turn’s Audience Suite DMP offering where he lead the strategy and build-out of the DMP as a leader in the product management organization. He brings more than15 years of direct-to-consumer marketing to Turn with experience in both the digital and offline worlds. Before Turn, Westover was the Vice President of Analytics and Business Intelligence at Claria, where he designed and oversaw the development of applications in the areas of ad optimization, behavioral search, and click-stream analysis — areas in which he also holds patents. Tweet to Matthew Westover.

Marketers gain huge advantages when leveraging a seamless, real time connection between the planning, activation and analysis phases of the marketing cycle. This simplified and unified approach translates into faster time to ROI because of our global scale, efficiencies in workflow and ability to put insight-into-action in near real time. In short, with Turn, marketers get up and running faster and realize gains in a significantly shorter period of time.

Our natively integrated approach to software development has collaboration benefits as well. Starting with our central anonymous audience profiles store (which, according to Gartner lead researcher Martin Kihn, we “nailed”) we provide brands such as Kraft, Sky Italia and DirecTV with a common workflow and set of tools so they can collaborate with their agency or other trusted partners on digital advertising campaigns. This team-based approach helps facilitate ongoing, informed conversations about data, audiences, personas, content, effectiveness and strategy.

Turn designed its infrastructure to operate at the speed and scale of the global Internet. It handles millions of transactions a second -- orders of magnitude bigger and faster than other tools that were originally designed for websites. This superior speed and scale enables customers to understand and react to massive amounts of anonymous audience changes in near real-time. As consumers move through multiple devices throughout their journey with a brand, we enable marketers to deliver coordinated messaging. Ultimately, the quantity and quality of the analytics and insights that come from this scale empower marketers to identify and solve not just marketing challenges, but business challenges as well.