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SAS, Adobe and Google are the top choices in digital marketing analytics, Gartner reports. PHOTO: Skitterphoto.com

Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner recently released its second annual Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Analytics, naming SAS, Adobe and Google as Leaders. Yet the small number of vendors also highlights a tale of two markets, revealed not only in vendor size but in the scope and direction of their offerings in the digital marketing analytics space today.

According to Martin Kihn, Research VP at Gartner, it’s important to note the 11 vendors that appear in this year’s Magic Quadrant are all companies with annual revenues of $15 million or more and/or more than 1,000 installations in 2015.

Big-League Players

“[Restricting our evaluations to] vendors that have over $15 million in annual revenues [sets] a high bar in the analytics space [because] that's a lot of money,” Kihn told CMSWire. “But below that, there are a lot of [exciting] things going on … particularly around machine intelligence or case-specific analytics like customer or retail analytics,” he noted.

Vendors included in the Quadrant must also provide applications or platforms, must have a SaaS offering and must provide both basic and advanced analytics functionalities. For example, ComScore was dropped from this year’s Magic Quadrant because its relevant digital marketing analytics assets were acquired by Adobe.

And This Year’s Trends Are?

“There is a lot going on in marketing analytics, but on the bigger platforms it’s business as usual,” Kihn reflected. “Over the [course of the] year, we saw the leaders cementing their leads and filling up holes in their portfolios,” he observed.

“[This year] it’s about convergence. It’s about convergence of data, about convergence of channels — and integration is the way this is happening. This means that people in the CMO’s office are issuing demands that data [currently] stored in different locations and silos be integrated. And the platform vendors are trying to provide this.

Defining Gartner’s Terms

Convergence of what exactly?

Gartner defines digital marketing analytics platforms as “specialized analytic applications used to understand and improve digital channel user experience, [support] prospect and customer acquisition and behavior and … optimize marketing and advertising campaigns, with an emphasis on digital channels and techniques. They are stand-alone, end-to-end platforms, performing functions from data collection through analysis and visualization.”

For Gartner, digital marketing analytics encompass five key areas that “represent … crucial ways analytics practitioners and software tools are required to support marketing and advertising efforts to deliver more effective, timely and personalized cross-channel experiences:”

  1. Data integration: Integration of structured and unstructured data from different sources using APIs
  2. Exploration: Ways for users to explore data using visualization and other tools
  3. Advanced models: Tools such as predictive analytics and machine learning that provide a rich selection of methods to improve personalization
  4. Extensibility: Automated connection of analytics outputs such as segments and predictive scores to operational systems
  5. Measurement: A means of tracking and assessing the impact of marketing and advertising efforts

The 2016 Magic Quadrant

Let’s take a look at this year’s Magic Quadrant, remembering that since all products represented in the Quadrant are standalone, they do not include the digital marketing analytics capabilities offered by Oracle, Salesforce, Experian and Nielsen.

 

In fact, none of the vendors in the Leaders Quadrant offers a complete package for the digital marketing analyst or business user either. Yet all three are pursuing a vision of converged analytics that supports what Gartner considers the full range of marketing analytics needs. Let’s look at the positives and negatives Gartner identified for each Leader:

SAS

Cary, N.C.-based SAS offers products — mostly on-premises — that address a number of different roles across the enterprise, including IT staff, data scientists, marketers and analysts. Its predictive analytics offering is role-specific and supports advanced and general users.

Gartner cites governance and transparency as two of SAS’s strengths, along with the flexibility to adapt to different roles across client organizations, particularly through predictive analytics.

However, Gartner flags product complexity and achieving seamless compliance across departments as possible issues, along with the high cost of enterprise entry. Gartner also questions whether SAS currently has the ability to serve fast-moving marketing analytics users.

Adobe

San Jose, Calif.-based Adobe Marketing Cloud's Adobe Analytics platform places analytics at the heart of Adobe’s marketing cloud and has been adding workspace features — including collaborative exploration and sharing of analyses — since it bought the Omniture web analytics platform in 2009.

Gartner notes that Adobe’s development of its analytics product is the result of close observation of enterprise usage patterns and that it is highly rated by users. Adobe also earns kudos for noting the growing importance of mobile and social interactions and responding with analytics that minimize user dependence on web tags.

But Gartner points out that while Adobe does provide a basic entry-level layer, its offering is typically more suited to advanced organizations. While Adobe Analytics earns points for its ability to integrate with other Adobe tools and its segmentation capabilities stand out in the marketplace, Gartner also identifies product integration as still a work in progress at Adobe.

Google

Gartner hails Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Analytics 360 Suite as an intuitive and flexible platform that boasts the added advantage of integration with Google’s DoubleClick suite of ad tech tools. It offers a global user community, a built-in "analytics assistant” and professional support.

Gartner cites Analytics 360 Suite’s results-oriented ease of use and Google’s focus on shopping behavior as strengths which address the complexities of cross-device behavior. It also points out that Google Analytics 360’s integration can automate and optimize a variety of real-time processes.

As possible negatives, Gartner notes that some users have expressed frustration with speed, as manifested in data processing latency times. What’s more, Gartner noted that some standard enterprise analytics features were not yet available.

Looking for Rapid Growth in 2017

What does Gartner see on the horizon for the coming year? Martin Kihn notes that the rapid growth of information and data sets available to marketers is likely to play out in changes to many applications and platforms, with some vendors even being forced to “re-platform.”  

"I think there will be consolidation among leaders, with Adobe and Google in particular taking more market share [but] I would like to see some of the smaller companies grow rapidly so that we can put them on [the Quadrant] as soon as possible,” he stated.