Last week saw a rebranding which erases a familiar name in the martech landscape. Kenshoo, the marketing insights and media activation platform founded in 2006 and serving major consumer businesses like Pepsico and Walgreens, rebranded as Skai. The new name hints at the AI capabilities of Signal Analytics, acquired by Kenshoo in December 2020. But to Margo Kahnrose, Skai’s CMO, it means something more.
It’s the ability to set Kenshoo-style marketing insights in the context of broader intelligence about the market as a whole, that is captured by Skai. “It gives us this birds-eye view which we’re hoping to give brands help with — to get out of the siloes of data, out of the narrow view of the customer, and understand the patterns you can only see from a distance.”
A cohesive offering. The rebrand signals much more than a name change, said Kahnrose. “It’s really a cohesion of our missing around something broader than what it was — digital performance marketing. We’ve spent the last almost 15 years doing that as best as we could, spreading our wings across the channels that were most important in the adtech universe. By acquiring Signals Analytics and incorporating their capabilities, we could touch more than just the digital performance marketers within the companies we work with, and create value for broader parts of their go-to-market organization, from product innovation and development through to the strategy and planning teams.”
Media activation remains a core part of the offering, said Kahnrose, together with the ability to interpret incremental lift measurements for future growth plans. “We’re able to measurably improve and speed up the full circle of go-to-market for consumer brands. We call the new mission full circle, go-to-market intelligence.”
Signal Analytics adds market intelligence. Kenshoo had been able to surface insights into the performance of campaigns, providing a basis for future planning and optimization. Signals Analytics complements those insights by providing AI-driven intelligence about marketplaces. “They’re an augmented, or advanced, AI-driven analytics platform used for the purpose of market intelligence, which includes consumer intelligence, product intelligence, brand intelligence, competitive intelligence.” The use of AI replaces traditional, slow market research — think focus groups — with intelligence that can keep pace with the market and changes in consumer behavior, said Kahnrose.
It’s a combination, she said, of intelligent marketing and market intelligence. “If you’re making decisions as a business based only on your internal data, or your marketing analytics, you’re operating blind and missing out on a bunch of opportunities. If you don’t have the full context of what consumers are talking about outside of their interactions with your brand, you are really losing context and you’re going to make inaccurate decisions.”
The linear customer journey is a joke. “Think about the way we behave today as consumers,” said Kahnrose. “This idea of linear shopping is a joke at this point; we’re bouncing around between channels, we’re clicking away, tapping and swiping and making decisions all the time, even if we’re not conscious of it.” The continuous cycle of behavior might spark a purchase, but also a conversation or a social share or the discovery of other products. “Brands have to be more agile — continually testing and learning, taking insights and applying them to the next campaign, taking results and applying them to the next planning session.”
Even large consumer brands are struggling with this, said Kahnrose — especially CPG brands. “They’re very far behind in terms of data maturity, and they don’t have a direct line to the consumer. They’re used to working through retailers. If they don’t speed things up and get closer to the consumers, there are all these more agile, digitally native direct-to-consumer brands that can do it better. Getting on the shelf used to be everything; now consumers have a voice and want brands to cater directly to them.”
Indeed, the Kenshoo customer base had been shifting towards CPG companies, which previously had used agencies to execute digital marketing, but were increasingly bringing it in-house. “We used to be heaviest industries like travel, financial services, education — we still have those sectors — but we have a big increase in CPG companies working with us, food and beverage, apparel, health and beauty. It’s interesting to see these companies which used to spend most of their energy and budget on big TV spots, very high in the funnel, shift their attention to consumer acquisition marketing and having to be able to measure and prove it.
“Digital allows you to do that,” she said.
Why we care. It’s this two-sided trend again — for individual vendors, broadening their offering, for the martech space in general, consolidation. It’s an established and well-known point solution presenting itself as a comprehensive go-to-market proposition. And it’s driven by the accelerated importance of digital marketing, even to brands accustomed to just stocking the shelves and watching consumers show up and buy.
Despite Amazon, there are still large parts of the B2C space which have not been digital first. With consumers now expecting to research, discover, compare and purchase online — able to buy any time and from anywhere — digital is not a nice to-have any more. It’s foundational.