Steven Gerber
Steve Gerber, president and COO of Zeta Global, said machine learning is powering the next generation of marketing technology.

Zeta Global, a New York City-based multichannel marketing campaign management solution provider, announced today its acquisition of machine learning-driven MarTech provider Boomtrain.

Zeta Global received funding three months ago to help make this acquisition.

In April, Zeta Global earned its largest funding round to date: $115 million in equity capital. The company also secured $25 million in debt financing for a total cash infusion of $140 million. The Series F financing round came from GPI Capital (Global Partnership Investing) and funds sponsored by Franklin Square Capital Partners. 

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. 

'We Needed More'

It's a happy ending for Boomtrain, once the subject of a 2014 Wired expose on the challenges of start up life.

San Francisco-based Boomtrain delivers mobile and email personalized messaging based on a combination of machine learning and predictive algorithms.

Steve Gerber, president and COO of Zeta Global, told CMSWire machine learning is powering the next generation of marketing technology. 

Zeta Global, he said, has been an early mover in this discipline with a dedicated team in Silicon Valley, a portfolio of patents and several products in market such as Scoring as a Service. 

"However," he added, "to become the leader among the marketing clouds, we believed we needed more. Boomtrain’s personalization engine was built with machine learning at the core. The company’s technology and data science teams are truly world-class. Most importantly, Boomtrain is more than a really cool idea — they’ve had tremendous traction in the marketplace and the product is used and loved by some of the world’s most sophisticated marketing organizations." 

Taking on Marketing Clouds?

Boomtrain will serve as the personalization engine within ZetaHub. 

"Boomtrain accelerates and enhances Zeta’s already deep experience and expertise in machine learning technology," Gerber added. "In the machine learning arms race, we believe acquiring Boomtrain moves us from slightly behind the first generation marketing clouds to surging ahead as we create the next generation marketing cloud with machine learning at the core."

Gerber said the Zeta team "often jokes that we have four small competitors: IBM, Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce."

"They are great companies and have formidable platforms," he said, "but they don’t solve all of a CMO’s biggest challenges."

Christian Monberg
PHOTO: Christian Monberg
Christian Monberg, Boomtrain's co-founder and CTO, will become CTO at Zeta Global. He said the combination of Boomtrain's technology stack with Zeta's scale "will enable brands to achieve more than first generation marketing clouds.”

The company will now have 1,300 employees. The deal marks the 10th acquisition in 10 years for Zeta Global. Officials claim the company grew more than 50 percent in 2016. 

They said the Zeta Global suite is built on data-driven marketing technologies. David A. Steinberg, Zeta's co-founder, chairman and CEO, founded the company with John Sculley, former CEO of Apple and president of Pepsi-Cola.

Forrester, Gartner Love

Zeta Global appears regularly in the Forrester and Gartner industry reports on multichannel campaign management. 

Gartner authors last year called the multichannel campaign management space a "red ocean" where web content management, data management platforms, marketing resource management, digital commerce and advanced marketing analytics vendors vie to provide engagement across more than one channel.

Vendors have added functionalities that include programmatic advertising capabilities, content marketing, mobile marketing, social marketing, connections to digital commerce and advanced analytics. Gartner researchers see Adobe and Salesforce vaulting past longtime leaders in vision like SAS, IBM, Oracle and Teradata.

Zeta Global also made Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs earlier this year. 

In it, Gartner researchers praised Zeta for pricing and value, its native functionality (particularly cross-device identity management) and client service and professional support, citing its centers of excellence worldwide to provide a local/global model for client, campaign and platform management. 

The analysts flagged a dependence on custom integration (complex implementations), market penetration challenges and an underdeveloped support community as drawbacks.

Gerber, however, backed Zeta's "differentiated assets and capabilities" that he said include customer data management based on a single view of the customer; a proprietary database of 350 million records with "highly actionable signal data"; omni-channel personalized messaging; strategic and managed services; a "maniacal focus on client success, which means flexibility, speed and a deep understanding of our clients’ business"; and now the "best machine learning personalization engine in the industry."