CMOs need advanced analytical tools and techniques to understand digital experience, how prospects and customers behave and ultimately how to optimize marketing and advertising campaigns. 

In short, they need to understand strategic objectives, analyze processes and adopt the technology to support those processes to keep pace with channel-hopping prospects and customers.

So where can digital marketers turn for the best analytics?

In its first Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics, Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner named Adobe, SAS and Google as "leaders." IBM was recognized as a "challenger." AOL, comScore and MarketShare were tabbed as "visionaries," and Visual IQ, Webtrends, OptiMine Software, AgilOne and Pitney Bowes were cited as "niche players."

(Editor's Note: Digital customer analytics will be discussed at CMSWire's DX Summit 2015 conference on Nov. 3 and 4 in Chicago.)

Rapid Change

Gartner analysts call digital marketing analytics the core of successful digital experience. The right technology differentiates the strong vendors from the weak because of the need to support customer journeys across multiple channels and devices.

The "digital marketing analytics ecosystem is undergoing rapid and significant change,” according to report authors Martin Kihn, Adam Sarner, Andrew Frank, Kirsten Newbold-Knipp and Christi Eubanks.

headshot of gartner analyst martin kihn

“There are a lot more demands being placed on marketing analysts and consequently on their tools,” Kihn told CMSWire. “Customers are using more channels to interact with brands and they’re throwing off more data. Getting insights out of this tsunami of information requires more advanced techniques and deeper teams. The days of single-channel ‘web analytics’ being enough to satisfy any CMO are over.”

According to Gartner's Data-Driven Marketing Survey for 2015, respondents are allocating 34 percent of their budgets to analytics, up from 21 percent two years earlier. Marketing analytics software composes a rising 17 percent of analytics budgets.

While Forrester Research has a web analytics Wave report, it has not release one geared toward digital marketing analytics.

So why did Gartner feel the need to address the technology?

“Traditional web analytics is a mature discipline dominated by a few players,” Kihn told CMSWire. “What we saw that inspired this MQ is a massive influx of analytical talent into marketing departments and a step change in the tools. Prime examples are Adobe and Google, which both are working hard to combine digital analytics with media measurement and attribution in interesting ways. That’s the convergence that excited us.”

gartner's graphic showing who it picked to be among the leading vendors in its digital marketing analytics report

Completing the Data Cycle

Matt Gershoff is CEO and co-founder of New York City-based Conductrics, which applies machine learning to digital optimization. He told CMSWire a complete digital marketing analytics package must allow for the collection and analysis of experimental, casual data as well as observational, correlational data.

“This means that the analytics solution must be able to reach out into the marketing application in order to push experimental interventions as well as have the ability to measure/monitor the application/process,” he said.

headshot of matt gershoff

The frustration for digital marketers? Most marketing systems/applications and organizations are not designed to be adaptive in a way that lets them easily provide differentiated experiences, he continued.

“Because the marketing process is essentially static, data collection, as it currently is practiced, is essentially a passive act, in that the data feeding the analytics is sensor data from an existing/static system,” Gershoff added. “So while organizations can get data to describe the functioning of the marketing application or process, there is limited information on what a change to the application/process would yield.”

Gershoff cautioned that some tools are "overly focused" on the presentation layer, which he calls an "unfortunate side effect of digital analytics space's fixation on JavaScript/shadow IT rather than a tight integration into the marketing stack."

Ultimately, marketers need to be able to provide multiple experiences and "need the information on how to best assign customers to experiences — and learning this is the domain of analytics.”

Not These Guys?

As for the Gartner report, researchers omitted two notable marketing technology vendors: Salesforce and Oracle. A digital marketing analyst report without two of the big marketing cloud players?

Along with Adobe and IBM, Salesforce and Oracle have pieced together their marketing cloud technology stack through billions of dollars of acquisitions. So why are they conspicuously absent?

After all, Gartner had each of them as leaders in its Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs report released seven months ago.’s marketing cloud is backed by ExactTarget, Buddy Media and Radian6 acquisitions, and Oracle is supported mainly by Responsys, Eloqua and BlueKai grabs.

“Oracle and Salesforce weren’t included because they don’t yet offer stand-alone analytics tools targeted specifically at marketers and advertisers,” Kihn told CMSWire. “Oracle has enterprise BI solutions and Salesforce has developing its Wave product for marketers, but it’s not in general release yet.”

When contacted by CMSWire about its exclusion from the Gartner report, a Salesforce spokesperson said, "At Salesforce, customer success is our top value and fuels our innovation. We embedded analytics into the heart of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud so marketers have the insights to create 1:1 customer journeys."

An Oracle spokesperson declined comment.

Show Me $10M

To qualify for inclusion in Gartner's report, vendors must have:

  • Global revenue of at least $10 million in 2014
  • At least 20 percent of installed base being users with two years of tenure
  • Acquired at least 10 new customers of their analytics products in 2014
  • Digital marketing analytics offered as a Software-as-a-Service (Deployment)

Vendors must also have all of these in their digital marketing analytics platforms:

  • Extensibility
  • Data access
  • Visualization and exploration
  • Filtering and manipulation
  • Batch and real-time processing
  • Management and deployment
  • Usability and interface

And at least three of these capabilities:

  • Segmentation
  • Prediction
  • Network analysis
  • Customer journey analytics
  • Text analytics
  • Media measurement
  • Forecasting
  • Simulation

Why Leaders Lead

Based on those criteria, Adobe, SAS and Google emerged as Gartner’s leaders.

Adobe Analytics, one of eight pieces of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, is the result of the Omniture acquisition in 2009.

Gartner researchers gave Adobe high marks for mobile and video capabilities, media attribution, anomaly detection and noted Adobe “set the standard for actionable analysis of audience trends and behaviors across channels and applications.”

Google has free Web analytics and tag management solutions and also offers Google Analytics Premium, designed, Gartner researchers wrote, for enterprise users. Premium lacks segment discovery and predictive modeling but offers a “highly intuitive and flexible platform, a global user community and available professional services.”

SAS is known for its advanced modeling capabilities, data collection, ingestion, exploratory analysis and modeling, simulation testing and optimization, decisioning and measurement, according to Gartner.

“SAS's strategic vision is to provide a marketing data hub built around a unified cross-channel customer view," researchers wrote.

Kihn said the leaders impressed Gartner by how well they understand the type of analytics marketers and advertisers need and their willingness to invest appropriate technologies.

“And Adobe and Google are leading the charge to combine marketing and media measurement,” Kihn said. “SAS is more broadly targeted but has a breadth of analytics products that is hard to beat. Google Analytics is the most widely used platform, and its Premium product is gaining traction among enterprises. And its acquisition of Adometry signaled a commitment to building out its media analytics component.”

Now, Get Better

Gartner, as it always does in these reports, had cautions for its leaders.

SAS’s platform requires a steep learning curve, lacks complete integration into its existing suite and includes a resource-intensive deployment model that presents challenges to updating, according to Gartner.

Jonathan Moran, senior product marketing manager for SAS Customer Intelligence Solutions, spoke to these cautions on an interview with CMSWire.

On the steep learning curve: “Our tools are powerful, but with training are not complex. We always offer training services to our customers who might need help understanding how to approach their business issues with our software.”

On incomplete integration: “Our next generation DMA offerings focus heavily on ‘playing well’ in the digital marketing analytics ecosystem. This includes APIs to ingest and export data from third parties as well as partner systems and other data source within the enterprise.

On cost and implementation: “Our next offering will be developed with a ‘cloud first’ approach, meaning that customers will not feel the pain of complex deployments and high professional services fees. ... SAS will still offer on-premise and hybrid deployment methods moving forward. ... The cost model will be totally reworked as well, to be much more competitive from a price perspective.”

Adobe Defends Platform

Gartner dinged Adobe for its support challenges, lack of focus on long-term, market insights and a complex internal structure that makes integration more difficult.

Nate Smith, senior product and marketing manager for Adobe Analytics, answered Gartner’s claims in an interview with CMSWire:

On support challenges. Account managers answer questions and provide strategic advice. Adobe also offers live, toll-free technical support, available 24/7, to every customer globally. It also offers real-time chat, online knowledge base and support portal, free training videos, a developer connection and a digital marketing blog, with technical content written by product managers, engineers and Adobe Consulting Services.

On operational focus: “Adobe Analytics provides many sophisticated predictive marketing capabilities, such as cluster analysis, contribution analysis, time-series/forecasting and what-if scenario simulation modeling that is accessible to marketers and role-based users — not just seasoned analysts with a statistical background.”

On complex internal structure: Adobe offers accessible, comprehensive integration options across all categories to support an extensive marketing ecosystem.” Adobe’s Exchange partner network has more than 150 pre-built apps, from data to mobile to commerce integrations. Customer Attributes capability enables customers to "easily load and integrate CRM data as analysis dimensions that can then be shared across the Marketing Cloud."

Google did not respond to CMSWire's request for comment.

This Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics can be found here (fee required).

If you'd like to learn more about digital analytics, come to our DX Summit, which will be held Nov. 3 and 4 at the W Hotel City Center in downtown Chicago. Find out more here.

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Title image by Joshua Hibbert.