Meet 20 of the most important executives shaping the future of marketing technology in 2020

  • Marketing technology is becoming a big opportunity for startups, agencies, and cloud giants vying for a piece of this $122 billion industry.
  • Business Insider identified 20 "martech" execs at the forefront.
  • They reflect a wide variety of companies, titles, and challenges, from marketers' need to manage and analyze data, grow e-commerce, and measure their advertising's effectiveness.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Companies from startups to big ad agencies and tech behemoths are trying to cash in on marketing tech.

Titans like Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce promise to help marketers send a message at the right time and place, while startups are trying to take on the cloud giants with newer tools and approaches. Meanwhile, big ad agency holding companies like Publicis Groupe and Interpublic Group are acquiring data firms to diversify their businesses.

Even as the coronavirus has crushed the advertising and marketing industries, martech companies have remained steady, since their software as a service (Saas) business models is relatively intact. Marketers have also leaned on martech to throw up e-commerce sites and figure out how to shift their ad spending in the pandemic.

According to a report from Warc and BDO, marketers will spend $121.5 billion globally this year on marketing tech, up from $100 billion in 2019.

For the second year in a row, Business Insider is recognizing 20 of the executives shaping the future of marketing tech.

Methodology

We used a mix of our reporting and more than 60 nominations from readers to put together the list. We aimed to include a wide mix of companies from large tech companies to startups.

We also tried to include a range of roles and responsibilities in the executives and the problems that they're solving — from helping marketers transition from third-party data to first-party data and setting up e-commerce websites for small and large businesses.

Here are the 20 martech executives to know, listed alphabetically by last name.

Hana Abaza, director of marketing, Shopify Plus, wants to set up e-commerce sites for big brands

Revenue: $714.3 million (second quarter 2020)

Employees: More than 5,000

Shopify is encroaching on Amazon's e-commerce dominance.

The Canadian company sells software tools that brands use to sell and market products online. Shopify is best known for working with small and midsize merchants, but its Shopify Plus program is going after big brands doing more sales online and developing direct-to-consumer products. Shopify says that more than 7,000 brands including PepsiCo, Staples, and Allbirds use Shopify Plus to run their e-commerce businesses.

Abaza is targeting big brands who want to build and launch e-commerce sites in a few days or weeks. She's helped CBD brands launch Shopify stores in the US and promote Shopify Plus as an alternative to e-commerce software companies. In one example, Heinz UK set up an e-commerce store on Shopify Plus in one week during the pandemic to reach people who couldn't go to grocery stores.

Anjul Bhambhri, VP of platform engineering, Adobe, wants to help marketers manage data in one place

Revenue: $3.13 billion (second quarter 2020)

Employees: More than 23,000

While Adobe has moved out of areas like political advertising and managed services, the company is still a marketing-cloud giant that wants to change how marketing is personalized.

At the center of Adobe's data-based marketing products is Adobe's Experience Platform. Brands like The Home Depot and T Rowe Price use it to compile their consumer data across channels, create profiles using the data and target messages to people across channels like email, desktop, and mobile. Adobe also has an ID graph that helps marketers identify groups of consumers and avoid showing consumers the same ad repeatedly.

Behind the scenes of the Experience Platform is Bhambhri, who leads strategy, development, and technology partnerships with Microsoft's cloud-computing service Azure as well as Adobe's Customer Journey Management product. Before working at Adobe, she spent 14 years at IBM in top engineering roles.

John Foreman, chief product officer, Mailchimp, wants to help move small businesses online

Estimated revenue: $700 million

Employees: More than 1,200

Mailchimp has long been the company behind small businesses' email campaigns, but it's been expanding beyond email with tools to help them sell and market themselves online. Foreman, a longtime employee, is behind the product development.

He helped build and test a product called Auto Designer this year that uses machine learning to crank out designs and assets for marketers' campaigns without the need of a designer.

He also oversees Mailchimp's relationships with tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google.

Lately, Foreman has been focusing on helping small businesses rebound from the economic crisis, particularly brick-and-mortar retailers that had to start selling online quickly. The firm offered small businesses free domains for five years as well as a free website builder.

Tricia Gellman, chief marketing officer, Drift, wants to make chatbots mainstream

Total funding to date: More than $114 million

Employees: 380

Drift is one of a few startups betting that businesses will opt for chatbots over human representatives to serve customers and collect lead-generation information like email addresses.

Drift's conversational marketing technology powers chatbots for more than 50,000 companies including GrubHub and Ellie Mae. Business-to-business companies like Symantec use its technology to combine sales and marketing teams. Beyond text chatbots, Drift has expanded into video with a feature that let businesses answer questions over live video chat and begun managing businesses' email campaigns last year.

Gellman worked in CMO roles at Checkr and Salesforce Canada before joining Drift in November. She leads a 40-person marketing team at Drift that oversees brand and product marketing for the company and has transitioned some of Drift's marketing like in-person events to virtual events during the coronavirus.

Stacey Hawes, president of data offering, Epsilon, wants to move beyond direct mail into TV

Revenue: $1.19 billion for 2019

Employees: 8,000

Publicis Groupe bet big on data with its $4.4 billion acquisition of Epsilon last year to meet marketers' needs as they move from relying on third-party to first-party data.

Epsilon runs a database of consumer information that it uses to help 4,000 brands like Best Buy and William Sonoma acquire customers. Publicis Groupe reported that its net revenue grew 9.7% year-over-year in the first half of the year, partly due to Epsilon.

Hawes is a longtime Epsilon employee who now leads Epsilon's data practice. Epilson is most known for its work around direct mail, but Hawes is pushing the firm into newer areas like connected-TV and addressable TV advertising. Her team is also using AI and machine learning to target and improve the performance of marketing.

This year, Epsilon launched a product that allows marketers to use their own first-party data. It also launched a tool called the Pact aimed at midsize advertisers that gives clients money-back guarantees if their goals and metrics aren't met.

Michael Jaconi, cofounder and CEO, Button, wants to make mobile shopping easy

Total funding to date: $64 million

Employees: 90

Button wants to shake up the affiliate marketing industry that largely relies on publishers sending people to websites to buy recommended products in exchange for a cut of the sale.

Jaconi founded Button because he realized that affiliate marketing requires publishers, brands, and networks to work together, often resulting in clunky mobile-phone experiences. Button works with brands and publishers like Walmart, Uber, and BuzzFeed, and plugs into affiliate networks including Rakuten so that consumers can buy products directly on websites.

Button recently rolled out a product that brands can use to drive app installs through their affiliate campaigns.

Nick Jordan, founder and CEO, Narrative I/O, wants to disrupt the data-brokering business

Estimated revenue: $2.5 million

Employees: 26

Narrative I/O was founded on the premise that buying and selling data for marketers is too hard and often involves data brokers that take a cut of revenue. Jordan founded Narrative after working in adtech and media roles at Yahoo and Tapad, realizing that collecting data was a labor-intensive, inefficient process.

The firm runs a marketplace connecting direct-to-consumer brands looking to buy data with platforms that sell it. Privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act limit companies' ability to collect and use people's data, and Narrative I/O helps marketers work around privacy laws by relying on compliant data sets.

Companies using Narrative's data marketplace include buyers like Fanatics and sellers like TransUnion and Kochava. The four-year-old firm has raised $14 million from investors including Glasswing Ventures and MathCapital.

Brian Kardon, chief marketing officer, InVision, wants the design industry to go digital

Revenue: More than $100 million

Employees: 600

Nine-year-old InVision sells design software so companies Netflix and American Express and agencies like WPP and Huge can make digital products like websites, apps, and campaigns in house.

Kardon leads product design and development resources for clients and also helps build awareness for InVision's products. With more companies now working remotely, Kardon helped distribute films about design and digital transformation and organize remote panels for clients. InVision has also rolled out features like templates and sticky notes to a virtual whiteboard product called Freehand.

Kardon joined InVision last year after holding CMO roles at Eloqua, Lattice Engines, and Fuze. InVision has raised $350 million from investors including Goldman Sachs and Spark Capital.

Arun Kumar, chief data and marketing technology officer, Interpublic Group, wants to differentiate the holding company with marketing tech

Revenue: $1.85 billion (second quarter 2020)

Employees: 2,900

Interpublic Group and other ad holding companies are trying to become known for doing more than just ad campaigns for clients, and IPG bet big on data services two years ago with its $2.3 billion acquisition of Acxiom.

According to IPG, the acquisition of Acxiom has helped it win new business like American Express' $400 million media business and Emirates.

Kumar oversaw the acquisition of Acxiom and now runs IPG's marketing-tech arm that includes Acxiom, Matterkind, and Kinesso. In addition to helping clients stay compliant with new data privacy laws, Kumar created a digital transformation arm called ConneCXions that combines marketing-tech tools like data platforms with adtech tools that target and serve ads.

Sara Livingston, head of customer growth and solutions, Rockerbox, wants to help DTC brands measure their marketing

Estimated revenue: $5 million to $10 million

Employees: 25

Direct-to-consumer advertisers are increasingly weaning themselves from Facebook and Google, and Rockerbox provides software to companies like Rhone and Rothys that shows if their marketing is working.

The firm's platform pulls together a marketer's data across social media, advertising, email, direct mail, and e-commerce platforms to show if an ad led someone to buy a product. Rockerbox also measures metrics like conversions and the cost of acquisition. The company has raised about $1 million from investors including Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator.

Livingston is tasked with building out Rockerbox's platform and solutions team to increase retention with clients. Rockerbox said that during the pandemic use of the platform has soared 40% as brands tried to figure out how to adjust their advertising. Livingston has also cut the onboarding time for DTC brands to 14 days from more than 30.

Before joining Rockerbox last year, she worked at Turner, The Weather Co., and Seamless.

Hugo Loriot, partner and managing director, 55 US, wants to help manage data for marketers

Ownership: 55% owned by holding company You & Mr. Jones, which has raised $550 million

Employees: 250

French data consultancy 55 develops strategies for clients like Shiseido and Ubisoft using partnerships with Google, Salesforce, Adobe and Facebook. As privacy laws became a bigger issue for US-based marketers, Loriot helped set up the 10-year-old firm's US operation in 2016. Loriot increased 55's US revenue by 65% year-over-year in 2019 due to relationships with Amazon and Google's marketing and cloud platforms. He's also helped open offices in Taipei, Geneva, and Shenzhen.

With Google and others phasing out third-party cookies used in ad targeting, 55 has opened up a "clean room" that helps advertisers get around those limitations by matching platforms' aggregated data with first-party data like email and sales.

55 also is also part of Salesforce's Partner program that analyzes and measures marketers' offline and digital data.

Peter Mahoney, founder and CEO, Plannuh, wants to change how marketers plan campaigns

Total funding to date: $6.5 million

Employees: 25

Mahoney was the CMO of speech-recognition software maker Nuance Communications when he decided to start his own company to help marketers build and plan campaigns using artificial intelligence, tools that he lacked when he was a CMO.

Marketers like Axonius, Maxar, and Denso pay a monthly fee starting at $500 to use Plannuh's cloud-based software that pulls in budgets, plans, and campaigns so multiple departments can access the same information from one place. The software also helps clients measure the return on their ad spend and recommends where advertisers should put their dollars.

Fayez Mohamood, CEO, Bluecore, wants to help retailers use first-party data

Estimated revenue: $50 million

Employees: More than 230

Fayez Mohamood cofounded Bluecore after realizing how difficult it was for retailers to send personalized emails.

The seven-year-old firm sells software that helps retailers like Sephora and The North Face launch campaigns using first-party data and uses machine learning and analytics to help them target shoppers with offers based on their online activity.

As marketers move away from using third-party cookies to target ads due to privacy laws, Bluecore is helping retailers transition to using first-party data. Bluecore's software as a service (Saas) model charges clients when it drives someone to a brand's website.

Most recently, Mohamood created a group called the DTC Collective that includes marketing leaders from Estee Lauder and Eddie Bauer to help retailers navigate challenges like privacy laws and the economic downtown.

Gabe Rogol, CEO, Demandbase, wants to use technology to simply salespeoples' jobs

Estimated revenue: More than $120 million

Employees: More than 300

A lot of marketing-tech companies focus on improving consumers' experiences; Demandbase wants to do the same for B2B clients.

Led by longtime employee Rogol, who became CEO in November, the firm sells technology that helps sales teams identify potential business customers by looking at factors like their revenue, technology they use, and industry size. Demandbase identifies the employers of people who visit websites, data that sales teams can use to personalize ads and theoretically cut down on cold calls.

Demandbase's clients include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Adobe, and Accenture. The firm has raised $158 million from investors like Silver Lake Waterman and Sageview Capital.

The company hit $100 million in revenue last year for the first time, and Rogol is tasked with hitting the next revenue goal of $250 million. Part of his strategy involves acquiring like-minded companies like business-to-business firm Engagio, a recent acquisition.

Jeff Samuels, chief operating officer, Iterable, wants to compete with Salesforce and Oracle with new tech

Total funding to date: $140 million

Employees: More than 300

Iterable is trying to take on Salesforce and Oracle by pitching itself as having technology that's built from scratch instead of cobbled together through acquisitions, a common critique of the marketing-cloud giants.

Samuels focuses on helping brands grow using first-party data gleaned through Iterable's products. Since he joined the company last year from Cisco, Iterable says its revenue has doubled.

Iterable sells marketing tools that help marketers target messages in email, apps, and text messaging, using machine learning and data science to analyze the right time, channel and frequency to send messages. Iterable's clients include Madison Reed, SeatGeek, and Zillow. The firm launched a feature using Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) technology this year that allows marketers to send interactive and visual emails that look like a mobile-app experience.

David Shim, CEO, Foursquare, wants to be the de facto location-data company

Estimated revenue: $150 million

Employees: More than 350

Eleven-year-old Foursquare has come a long way from its roots as a check-in app.

The company now powers the location technology that more than 1,000 companies like Apple, Snapchat, and Twitter use to track where people go and what they buy after viewing ads. In the past year, the well-funded firm has been on an acquisition tear, acquiring rival Placed and merging with Factual to create the marketing industry's go-to location company.

Location tracking has come under scrutiny from recent data-privacy laws. Foursquare says it works with clients to ensure the data companies collect and share is compliant and has called for Congress to regulate the location-technology industry. 

CEO David Shim is an entrepreneur who sold his location company, Placed, to Foursquare in 2019. He became CEO of Foursquare last year and most recently helped it become the first location company to have its data vetted and accredited by the industry watchdog Media Rating Council. He also led the merger with location firm Factual this year.

Foursquare has raised more than $390 million from investors including Union Square Ventures and The Raine Group.

Nate Skinner, SVP and global marketing leader, Oracle CX, wants to build relationships with CMOs

Revenue: $39 billion (fiscal year 2020)

Employees: 136,000

Cloud giant Oracle has deep relationships with chief information and technology officers at brands. Skinner is trying to build those same relationships with increasingly data-focused chief marketing officers, pitching Oracle's ability to handle their sales, marketing, commerce, and customer support.

He specifically oversees marketing for Oracle CX, an area that Oracle says has a $55 billion total addressable market. Oracle's technology helps marketers manage data and automate campaigns across mobile apps, email, and text messaging. New Oracle CX tools include a feature that detects when consumers have seen too many messages and offers ways for marketers to find more potential customers.

Skinner joined Oracle in March after working as head of global marketing roles at Salesforce and Amazon Web Services.

Marla Thompson, SVP and general manager, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, wants to be the one-stop shop for marketing tech

Revenue: $1.4 billion (Salesforce Marketing and Commerce Cloud revenue, per second quarter 2021, February to July)

Employees: More than 50,000

Salesforce has built up its marketing cloud to help CMOs manage their customer data and ad campaigns, acquiring companies like Datorama and signing a deal with Microsoft Azure in November.

At the heart of this effort is Thompson, who leads Salesforce's messaging and journey businesses that use software to plan and tweak email, mobile, advertising, and commerce campaigns. Over the past year, she has helped develop a new offering for text messaging and led a product manager development program. She also serves as executive sponsor of the Indianapolis chapter of Salesforce's Women's Network.

Salesforce also provides marketers with data on how and when consumers visit websites, apps, and open emails. Similar to other marketing clouds, the goal is to make a one-stop shop for marketers in handling everything from sales, marketing, and analytics.

Lauren Vaccarello, chief marketing officer, Talend, wants a piece of the data-integration industry

Estimated revenue: $67.7 million (second quarter 2020)

Employees: 1,300

Talend competes against firms like Informatica and Oracle for the $19 billion data-integration market, and Vaccarello is tasked with building awareness for the tech giant.

She joined the company last year after holding marketing roles at Box and Salesforce and revamped the company's marketing efforts after the coronavirus hit the US, including launching a global ad campaign and three virtual conferences that were attended by 2,300 people.

Talend helps companies like L'Oréal and Anheuser-Busch InBev make business decisions using information from different data sources. Anheuser-Busch uses Talend to analyze customer tastes and improve store and bar experiences. According to Talend, the beer maker sped up the development process for marketing new products by 75% with Talend's software.

After cutting its full year 2020 guidance due to the coronavirus, Talend reintroduced its previous guidance and is aiming to reach $100 million in annual recurring revenue from its cloud business this year.

Kevin Wang, VP of product, Braze, wants to compete with cloud giants in messaging

Total funding to date: $175 million

Employees: More than 600

Nine-year-old marketing tech firm Braze wants to compete with Adobe and Salesforce to manage data-based marketing for brands.

Braze helps brands like Gap, Walmart, and HBO send personalized in-app push notifications and messages to prospective customers. It also provides brands with a dashboard that tracks how consumers interact with messages and uses artificial intelligence to recommend where and when marketers should send messages.

Wang is Braze's first product department hire, and he's since helped expand the company's offerings to machine learning and data integrations with third-party companies like cloud giant Snowflake.

The firm has recently added features that help marketers reduce churn and use behavioral data to tweak their messaging. Braze also inked a deal with Movable Ink that plugs creative into email. Braze crossed $100 million in annual recurring revenue in 2019.

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