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Recently, I’m proud to say, we announced the new round of funding for Adverity, a $120 million investment led by Softbank Vision Fund 2 alongside Sapphire Ventures. Needless to say, it’s enormously gratifying when someone places such confidence in your company and it’s a reflection of the tremendous work everyone at Adverity has put in over the past five years.
But Adverity is not just a company, it’s an idea. The idea that data and analytics are crucial for the future of any successful marketing and sales function. And, as much as this investment is an investment in Adverity, the company, and the people, it’s also an investment in that idea.
Having worked in marketing and technology for more than 20 years, I have seen enormous change across the industry. However, the speed at which change is occurring today is extraordinary – and shows no signs of slowing, but is instead accelerating. And at the heart of these changes is the increasing realization that to be successful, you need to be insights-driven.
When we founded Adverity back in 2015, we did so in the firm knowledge that data and analytics were going to be at the forefront of marketing and sales in the future. Of course, no one could have predicted a pandemic and the enormous impact COVID-19 was going to have on our lives and businesses. Audience behavior changed overnight and became increasingly unpredictable while existing marketing and sales strategies were torn up amid an unprecedented shift online.
This volatility and uncertainty left many companies highly exposed, catapulting the need to future-proof businesses right to the top of the priority list. However, the reality is that companies that had already begun building the foundation for advanced data integration and analytics were those that were flexible enough to pivot to a new norm because they had access to the sort of data-driven insights that allowed them to keep up with the erratic behavior of their customers and adjust their strategies in real-time. For the rest, it has been a matter of playing catch-up, using this time to make sure their data infrastructure is sophisticated enough to weather any future storms.
“The funding announcement comes as no surprise to me. I’m proud to say we started working with Adverity years ago as we recognized how fundamental it was to be data-driven and focused on insights. Since then, we have never looked back.”
Emiliano Bozzi, Digital Marketing & Performance Data Analyst, Vodafone Italy
One of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has of course been the rise of ecommerce. While ecommerce has been growing rapidly and eating into traditional brick-and-mortar retail for a while now, the pandemic massively accelerated this trend. Suddenly, almost everyone had to switch to ecommerce and they had to do it immediately.
And with that switch came a fundamental need for data – accurate integrated data on a huge scale, required to measure performance and compete in this vast and increasingly competitive online marketplace. Put simply, data is absolutely fundamental to any successful ecommerce business, and, because of those shifts in customer behavior caused by the pandemic, you had thousands of companies suddenly realizing this overnight. Again, the brands that had already had a data-driven approach were the ones that have seen the most success.
Importantly, this isn’t going to go away. While it is unlikely that we will ever see an end to brick-and-mortar retail, the importance of ecommerce is only going to get bigger and omni-channel approaches will become the norm, if they haven’t already in some industries. This poses an even greater challenge than running a digital-only business and being able to connect and analyze data from a myriad of sources is going to be the key to unifying marketing and sales efforts that straddle both offline and online activity.
Just as marketers were coming up for breath, Google went ahead and announced the demise of third-party cookies. Now, we’ve all been expecting this for some time, but that made the announcement no less significant, and coming so quickly on the heels of the pandemic has created something of a perfect storm. If COVID-19 rewrote the rules on marketing, Google went and ripped up the book entirely.
As marketers, we’d all become somewhat addicted to the value of multi-touch attribution, to the point that entire marketing strategies were premised on its continued existence. And so, with third-party cookies set to be phased out, businesses are having to suddenly find innovative ways to track their marketing performance and drive strategy with a very different set of data than they are used to.
And it’s not only third-party cookies, but a broader trend of data deprecation. GDPR and other restrictive laws focused on customer privacy, changes in mobile ad ID usage, and widespread consumer adoption of privacy tools and privacy-protecting behaviors are all contributing to a fundamental shift in how marketing and sales measure performance.
Tina Moffett, Principal Analyst at Forrester, was recently a guest speaker at one of our webinars and as she put it; “In a time when we have to measure efficacy and understand consumer behavior more than ever before, data deprecation has made it hard for advertisers to do that all the way down to a campaign level.”
In order to compete successfully, businesses now need to make every scrap of data work that much harder. And again, sophisticated data integration as a foundation for delivering data-driven insights is the necessary key for unlocking that potential.
“This announcement reflects exactly where the industry is heading. Today, powerful data integration and analytics is a must-have capability for any successful business, and with Adverity we are ahead of the curve.”
Remko Stouthart, Global Head of Marketing Insights & Performance, Signify
The world has been talking about data for a long time now. The term ‘big data’ actually predates the likes of Google and Amazon and certainly Web 2.0. However, despite that, many businesses remain relatively low down on the data maturity curve.
This may not be all that surprising though. The amount of data that any business needs to deal with is now astronomical. We’re not just talking marketing and sales, but also logistics, finance, product – practically all functions a business needs to survive – and they all now generate their own increasingly large mountains of data.
So, it isn’t easy to bring this together, nor once you have, actually be in a position to let it drive decisions and work for you. However, alongside this growth in data has been an increasingly rapid rise in technology and, more importantly, the availability of advanced solutions based on these technologies.
It was not so long ago that the concept of artificial intelligence was the preserve of science fiction. Today it is an everyday reality, used in businesses across the world. While for many there remains a feeling that AI has under-delivered on its promises, the truth is that AI technology has advanced to the point where it can be brought into multiple aspects of our lives. It now delivers tangible, practical advantages in a way that simply wasn’t possible 20 or even 10 years ago. If we look at marketing and sales, the power of AI and machine learning to not only assist in the integration of vast oceans of data, but also to analyze it in real-time and deliver advanced insights, is truly remarkable.
To be sure, you could have done this without AI, but you’d need an army of data analysts working round the clock to manually crunch numbers. Today, the technology to deliver more accurate results in a fraction of the time, is at your fingertips.
Part of the rise of AI comes down to the abundance of cheap available computer processing power, spurred on by the proliferation of cloud-based services. But it is also a reflection of the ingenuity of various industries looking at this technology and asking ‘what can we do with this?’ This is where the real revolution lies. Technology on its own does drive change – it is how that technology is used.
And this is what is surprising. Despite the technology, despite the masses of data, it is only relatively recently that mindsets are beginning to shift towards data-driven approaches that place data at the heart of what they do.
Too often data and insights have been used to justify existing strategies rather than drive innovation. Data has been seen as almost a peripheral necessity, something essential to be sure, but not the driver of strategy or decisions. This is now beginning to shift and businesses are realizing the value of data and an insights-driven approach.
And that shift in mindset largely comes down to one increasingly obvious truth – the companies that are emerging as the most successful are those that have built their business around data and data-driven insights.
This shift in mindset was, in my opinion, inevitable. However, it is fair to say that mounting pressures from events like the pandemic, cookie deprecation and the sharp rise of ecommerce, have brought the need to change into an even sharper focus.
For this reason, a platform like Adverity has become an obvious solution for so many businesses. For that new generation of leaders who recognize the need for accurate data, integrated from multiple sources, which can be analyzed in real-time by an advanced AI system, to generate previously unattainable insights around which they can build their entire strategy – it’s a must-have tool.
Any that’s why, although I am extremely pleased to announce our new funding round, I cannot say I am surprised.