Disclosure: The author no longer works for VentureBeat and now works at Tune. –Ed.
Popular web and mobile data integration hub Segment hit the refresh button on its mobile platform today, opening it up to dozens of new mobile engagement and mobile data partners.
The news for mobile publishers and marketers? You can now try more stuff faster.
That means that if you’ve always wanted to try mobile marketing automation in your app, for instance, you can now integrate it in about two seconds, with a single line of code. And you can try one vendor this month and another the following month — with almost zero organizational, development, or time overhead.
“We have a pretty significantly growing user base of mobile customers,” Peter Reinhardt, cofounder and CEO of Segment, told me yesterday. “They want access to more tools … to try lots of different things, and figure out which tool is best.”
How does it work?
Segment calls itself a data integration hub, and is somewhat reminiscent of web-based tag management platforms. Its technology allows web and mobile developers to integrate with Segment once and then try any number of third-party marketing and data tools almost instantly, simply by flipping a switch. Because Segment sees everything that happens on your site or your app, it can then flow the data appropriately for tools that do analytics, marketing, engagement, testing, attribution, communication, or just about anything else you might want.
Integration for publishers becomes easy and quick — which means that mobile tool vendors better look sharp.
“We prioritize evaluating new vendors that are on Segment,” Conrad Chu, CTO and cofounder of food delivery service Munchery, said in a statement. “We’re routing all of our data through Segment, so it doesn’t make much sense to allocate engineers to manually integrate tools outside of the system when we could just flip a switch to try a new integration out.”
The old version of Segment’s mobile platform was dependent on having Segment engineers integrate new app services. That created a bottleneck, director of marketing Diana Smith said — dozens of integration requests went undone each month — so the company has now opened up the platform and allowed mobile vendors to do the Segment integration themselves.
“This will allow Segment to scale the number of services much faster,” she added. “It has been constrained by Segment engineers, but enabling partners to do this themselves … will make it much faster.”
Speed is important, and not just for marketers doing integrations — Segment needs to add more partners faster to compete. The company currently processes more than 50 billion API calls every month. That’s impressive, but a large portion of those are on the Web, not on mobile. Not only is mobile where competitors such as mParticle focus exclusively, but mobile is where the majority of innovation is happening today.
That makes this new platform launch critical to Segment’s plan to dominate mobile as much as it dominates the Web.
“We get dozens of integration requests each month,” Reinhardt told me, adding that the company now has about 160 integrations, including 75 on mobile. “I’d expect those mobile numbers to probably double or triple within a year.”
One advantage for Segment, of course, is that having a foot in both web and mobile makes Segment more omnichannel-friendly. That’s key, argued Smith, saying that even mobile-first companies are moving to have a web presence.
This could make Segment a go-to resource for mobile publishers looking to integrate mobile app analytics, mobile marketing automation, and mobile testing, attribution, deep-linking, and communication tools into their apps. After all, speed and ease of integration are critical for mobile marketers and publishers.
“One of the major barriers for effective measurement and collaboration has always been the number and complexity of SDK solutions,” said Peter Hamilton, CEO of mobile marketing platform Tune. “We are eager to support solutions like Segment that empower developers to easily use the products they need.”
That’s even more important when you consider that companies with substantial web and mobile presences don’t currently have an easy way to view combined impression, visit, duration, and user data between their websites and mobile apps. With Segment’s new platform, any vendor who supports both Segment on the Web and Segment on mobile — analytics vendors, I’m looking at you — could enable that kind of functionality.
It’s also something that could help mobile app publishers in bigger ways than just ease of integration and speed of deployment.
One of the big reasons why high-end web-focused tag management solution such as Ensighten exist is that too much of marketers’ data is siloed. On the Web, that could mean chat logs are in one place, web analytics in another, ecommerce sales charts in a third, website improvement surveys in a fourth, and so on. A tag management solution can help marketers bring all their data into one combined place, sortable and viewable by users and cohorts, and discover deeper truths with more contextualized and comprehensive datasets.
I wonder if something similar might make sense in mobile.
Mobile marketing automation systems come close, but often don’t tie deeply and immediately into m-commerce sales records or other sets of data about customers. Enabling a holistic view of users from all the mobile tools that app developers and marketers use opens up fruitful new ways of understanding users — and customers.
Day one launch partners include Kochava, the attribution vendor; Appboy and Kahuna, the mobile marketing automation systems; and Tune, which does both attribution and mobile engagement. Deep-linking leader Branch is also an initial launch partner.