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What Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs Tells Us?

This month, Gartner’s little dots, have once again wiggled around for digital marketing hubs to demonstrate to us who lost ground on their competitors, and who jumped from one category to another over the past year. Adobe, Oracle, Salesforce, and Marketo have retained their spots as leaders but they have migrated across the “Leaders” quadrant. While we are seeing seven new kids on the block this year, another six vendors got the boot. 

First and foremost, what does a digital marketing hub provide? According to Gartner, the technology allows automating execution and optimization of multichannel campaigns, conversations, experiences and data collection across the online and offline channel by offering standardized access to audience data, content, workflow triggers and operational analytics. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant has an axis for “Completeness of Vision” and “Ability to Execute.” Here’s how the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm defines those:

  • Completeness of Vision: market understanding, marketing strategy, sales strategy, offering (product) strategy, business model, vertical/industry strategy, innovation, geographic strategy.

  • Ability to Execute: product/service, overall viability (business unit, financial, strategy, organization), financials, sales execution/pricing, market responsiveness and track record, customer experience, marketing execution, operations.

This year, Adobe is highest and furthest to the right in both Ability to Execute and Completeness of Vision. In the report, Gartner’s analysts recommended the platform for those who are a midsize-to-large enterprise with a moderate-to-high level of operational and analytics marketing maturity looking to compete on quality of customer experience and personalization. On the other hand, Garner states that the integration between AEM and the Creative Cloud and AEM and Audience Manager leaves room for improvement. 

Suresh Vittal, Vice President of Adobe Marketing Cloud, stated: “We are committed to major innovation, and the best and quickest way to innovate and disrupt the industry and maintain our competitive advantage is to first establish and innovate on the Adobe Cloud Platform, which will enable faster and more disruptive innovation in the solutions.”

Salesforce Surged Forward 


Another change in the Leaders’ quadrant was that Salesforce surged forward from Marketo compared to the last year’s report and narrowed the gap on Oracle in terms of “ability to execute.” "Marketing Cloud has been transformative in enabling our customers across industries to deliver personalized experiences to consumers," said Bob Stutz, CEO of Marketing Cloud and Chief Analytics Officer, Salesforce. "We believe Salesforce's leadership position in the Digital Marketing Hubs Magic Quadrant further validates our vision for the future of marketing—where brands can deliver smarter journeys across the entire consumer lifecycle—not just in marketing, but also sales, service, and commerce."

Andrew Frank, Christi Eubanks, Lizzy Foo Kune, Martin Kihn and Jake Sorofman, who are the authors of the report, placed Neustar, IgnitionOne, Zeta Global, Kitewheel and Sitecore in the visionaries category as they have a good strategy but need to leverage their ability to execute, according to Gartner. Meanwhile, IBM, Nielsen, MediaMath, DataXu, Turn, and Lotame landed in the Challenger category, meaning that these vendors trail their rivals in terms of “completeness of vision,” based on how Gartner rates platforms and providers. On that note, last year, Turn, MediaMath and DataXu were named as visionaries but this year, these three DSP/DMP hybrids lost ground on their competitors when it comes to “completeness of vision.”

This year, we have two vendors that jumped from a niche player to a challenger; Nielsen and Zeta Global. Nielsen’s data ecosystem, processing capabilities, and media measurement capabilities were considered as its core strengths in the report. On the flip side, its marketing cloud being late to market causes the vendor a limited track record of success and lagging behind the competitors in adoption. According to Gartner, Zeta Global’s strengths are its price flexibility, native functional capabilities, professional service options, and implementation support. Therefore, the report cites that B2C companies in retail, consumer products and services sectors that are on the lookout for hub technology alongside professional and managed services should consider Zeta Global. Despite strong native functional capabilities, Zeta Hub is little-known which results in lagging in adoption and consideration among marketers. 

Who is In, Who is Out?


Gartner changes its inclusion criteria for Magic Quadrants depending on the market changes. This year, the Stamford, Conn.-based research firm didn’t make any exception and included some newbies as well as deposed some vendors in its report. As the disclaimer goes in the report: “It may be a reflection of a change in the market and, therefore, changed evaluation criteria, or of a change of focus by that vendor.” 

New Kids on the Block: BlueConic, Cxense, Eulerian Technologies, SAP, SAS, Viant Technology, and Ysance made the cut and got entered into the 2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Marketing Hubs. 

Vendors Dropped: Experian Marketing Services, Krux (acquired by Salesforce in 2016), Marin Software, Rocket Fuel, Sizmek, and Teradataant Technology Ysance are given the boot. 

Market Overview  


69 percent of enterprise marketers report that they have either fully deployed and use regularly or are in the process of deploying a digital marketing hub, according to a recent Gartner marketing technology survey. More importantly, Gartner’s analysts concluded that marketers are still in favor of a best-of-breed approach when it comes to vendor selection, rather than looking for single-source solutions. Not only Gartner but also other research firms confirm that marketers are embracing best-of-breed architecture as they get the most out of their marketing technology solutions, if they add more tools into their ecosystem. In fact, a Walker Sands study with 335 U.S. marketers on the subject of marketing technology adoption unveiled that almost half of marketers (48 percent) describe their marketing technology stacks as best-of-breed, with the majority of those marketers (57 percent) calling their architecture “integrated” rather than “fragmented.” 

In addition, Gartner sees extensibility through published services as a key benefit of this technology. The firms stated that of the 123 references surveyed for this Magic Quadrant, 88 percent reported integrations with at least one hub product other than the one by which they were referred. So, obviously, the vendors that offer the most connections have the upper hand in the competition game. 

I would like to end this piece with my interpretation of arguably the most interesting key finding from the report. Gartner’s analysts found none of the leaders in the top five most highly rated solutions when they assessed overall satisfaction ratings from vendor references. This tells us a couple of points. First, this means that the hub market is still not mature enough and has a long way to go. Second, even the vendors that were named as Leaders in the report need to leverage their platforms, which leads us to the third point. Since Leaders are not set in stone, the vendors that landed in the other categories still have an opportunity to surge forward and elbow their way into more competitive spots if they step up their games in terms of innovation and business strategy. Lastly, this is good news for the customers as they will see more innovations coming up from all size of vendors that compete in this unsettled space. 

Venus Tamturk

Venus Tamturk

Venus is the Media Reporter for CMS-Connected, with one of her tasks to write thorough articles by creating the most up-to-date and engaging content using B2B digital marketing. She enjoys increasing brand equity and conversion through the strategic use of social media channels and integrated media marketing plans.