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As an increasing number of tech giants including Apple disallow ad tracking, preventing brands from targeting particular ads to particular customers, marketers are being pushed to figure out new ways of doing business. According to Gartner, marketing budgets fell to their lowest recorded level in 2021, dropping to 6.4% of company revenue from 11% in 2020. A Deloitte report published around the same time shows that more than half of marketing leaders report increased pressure from CEOs, while nearly half cite pressure from chief financial officers to prove the value of marketing.
One of the challenges that marketers face is completing repetitive, manual tasks that not only take up time but add to the price of doing business. In 2015, HubSpot found that marketers dedicated about 16 hours of their time to routine tasks, including sending email; collecting, analyzing and organizing data; and maintaining landing and social media pages. The opportunity cost is substantial. According to Rakuten Marketing, companies estimate that they misspend or waste between 20% to 80% of their marketing budgets.
In theory, automation technologies could both reduce costs and free up marketers to tackle higher-level tasks. A growing cohort of vendors claim that their solutions are already achieving this. Beyond incumbents like Oracle, SAP, SAS, Adobe, and IBM, which offer marketing automation products in various forms, startups including Marketo, Eloqua, ActiveCampaign, SendinBlue and Kustomer (which Meta, formerly Facebook, recently acquired) say that their software can abstract away tasks like testing the performance of different campaigns. Metadata.io, another marketing solutions provider, says that it, too, has developed a platform that enables marketers to offload low-value work. But unlike its competitors, Metadata ambitiously says that it’s developing “a new software category” for marketing task automation.
“In 2021, the Metadata platform executed nearly $50 million of digital spend for over 150 customers across Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Quora, and Display, resulting in over $130 million in marketing-sourced pipeline and over $2 billion of influenced pipeline,” Metadata CEO Gil Allouche said in a statement. “No other technology was able to provide this amount of efficiency for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. This funding validates the market demand for our technology and will help us develop this technology further.”
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Abstracting away tasks
San Francisco, California-based Metadata was founded in 2015 by Allouche, Asaf Shilat, and Yan Manevich. Allouche was VP of marketing at Qubole, a marketing analytics startup, while Manevich previously held a senior software automation engineer role at Genesys. Shilat — who also has a background in marketing technologies — did an engineering stint at Marketo before joining Metadata.
With Metadata, customers can target audiences — whether individual people or companies — for marketing campaigns, identifying target accounts and buyers on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social platforms. Metadata’s automation tools allow marketers to launch paid campaigns across channels (e.g., email) and test different marketing campaign messages, ads, and offers to see what works for specific audiences. Potential customers — known as “leads” in the marketing world — are automatically saved in Metadata, which enriches their profiles with information like job title, industry, phone number, and seniority.
“AI still hasn’t made its way into the everyday lives of B2B marketers. And it needs to because we have more channels, data and tech than ever before,” Allouche told VentureBeat via email. “Often, folks in data and technical roles are responsible to support marketing, and the various tools that Marketing needs to have integrated in order to do their job. When marketers start using Metadata, their need to integrate all of these tools lessens, because they simply connect them to Metadata and our AI does most of the work and makes a majority of the decisions.”
On the revenue side, Allouche also claims that Metadata can optimize campaigns using AI, recommending where to spend marketing dollars based on desired business outcomes. “[Metadata automates] the repeatable and time-consuming parts of launching paid campaigns, so [companies] can focus more of [their] time on strategy, targeting, and creative,” the company’s website explains. “From logging into different ad channels to keeping up with UI changes to dealing with confusing workflows, now [they] can do it all from a single tool.”
“[For example, through] AI and machine learning, Metadata frees B2B marketers from having to manually do time-consuming paid campaign tasks so they can spend their time on the work that matters most: strategy, creativity and experimentation,” Allouche continued. “Metadata’s … personal-to-corporate identity graph allows its customers to build laser-focused audiences on Facebook and LinkedIn [by] matching personal emails to legit business emails with our proprietary database of 1.5 billion B2B profiles.”
Of course, marketing automation technology has its cons. As one commentator points out, there can be a steep learning curve and it doesn’t necessarily fix process inefficiencies in an organization. A 2017 eMarketer report suggests that digital transformation in B2B marketing is often slowed by a lack of an adoption strategy, with only 21% of marketers reporting having launched digital transformation programs.
Despite those concerns — and competition in a marketing automation market that could be worth $14.18 billion in 2030, according to one source — Allouche says that Metadata is exiting Q1 2022 from a position of strength. The startup grew 711% year-over-year over the past year. And in the past year, it added 110 new customers.
“When speaking with dozens of Metadata customers, it was clear that Metadata is a vital part of their operations. Metadata’s commitment to their customers is evident in their growth and the tangible results they’ve provided B2B marketers,” Next47 general partner Matthew Cowan, a Metadata investor, said in a press release. “Their vision of building the first operating system for B2B marketing is precisely what this industry needs. As we were looking to make investments in truly disruptive marketing technologies, Metadata’s vision, combined with their current performance, and future trajectory, is what compelled us to lead this round of funding with them.”
Seventy-nine-employee Metadata — which today announced that it raised $40 million in a series B round led by Next47 and Resolute Ventures — plans to spend the bulk of this year expanding its platform features, according to Allouche. The company’s total raised stands at over $53.8 million.
“The focus of this series B release isn’t as much about the funds we’ve raised, it’s primarily about a new category of software we’re building that will eliminate the most mundane, repetitive and technical tasks that B2B marketers still do today. The series B fundraise will help us realize this vision,” Allouche said. “[Metadata], which has Zoom, Okta and ThoughtSpot as customers, added over 110 new customers in the last 12 months alone, with more than 180 customers overall … Metadata grew a staggering 711% year-over-year growth in revenue in the past 24 months.”
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