We’re a company town.
Think of industries in D.C. and it’s all politics, government, and advocacy. The more technically astute among us might also think of D.C. as leaders in security, Internet services, and data centers. Few think of D.C. as a powerhouse in marketing technology, or MarTech for short.
Yet, peek behind D.C.’s marketing technology scene and you see D.C.’s industrial heritage – of politics, advocacy, technology and even security and intel – looming large.
Right now, according to WaveLength Analytics research for D.C. Marketing Tech Talks, there are about 85 local marketing technology firms. A handful started outside the U.S., like Eloqua did, but significantly expanded in D.C. Salescycle, a platform that helps marketers increase conversion rates, recover abandoned sales, and drive customer loyalty, is a good example. They started in the UK, but moved their headquarters to the D.C. area in the early part of the decade.
There’s also another handful of companies that started here, got bought by a company outside the region, and remain here. Two good examples are Vocus and AddThis. Beltsville’s Vocus, a public relations software app was bought in 2014 and ultimately merged with Chicago-based Cision. Tysons’ based AddThis, an audience intelligence platform, got bought in 2016 by Silicon Valley powerhouse Oracle.
What about the others?
Half of D.C.’s Homegrown MarTech Companies Come from Traditional Tech Industry
Not surprisingly, about half of D.C.’s marketing technology companies come from D.C.’s strong technology industry. Of that group, about a third are from big data, business intelligence, or data sciences. Good examples are Columbia’s data management platform, Lotame and McLean’s identity resolution platform, Verato.
Another third have deep roots that reach back to 2000’s dotcom boom. Tysons-based Cvent, the events management powerhouse is a good example. A second company with a long history is Neustar. Starting in local number portability, then domain registry services, Neustar has a thriving portfolio of several MarTech solutions.
D.C.’s Most Unique MarTech Firms Come from Unlikely Places
The area’s most unique MarTech firms spring from D.C.’s unique industry mix not found anywhere else in the world.
Politics – where getting votes means marketing to influence individual behaviors – has sparked innovation transferrable to marketing. Take BlueLabs, of Obama campaign analytics team fame. They are the creators of the upX cross-channel media optimization engine. On the other side of the aisle, there’s Deep Root Analytics, maker of the Deep Root Platform that allows companies to better target TV advertising.
Evidence of our security, geospatial, and intelligence expertise is found in our local MarTech scene. A great example is ZeroFox, a social media protection platform for enterprises. There’s also Leesburg’s Gravy Analytics. Founded in 2011, Gravy is the first platform to offer real-world location intelligence to advertisers and brands.
Then there’s Babel Street. They have a very interesting platform; it does multi-lingual, geo-enabled, text-analytics, social media and web-monitoring to gather social intelligence for real-time situational awareness.
Where else would you find companies like this?
With D.C.’s expertise in Internet of Things, big data, and artificial intelligence — and some top marketing talent to match — there’s every reason to believe that D.C. will be a main innovation force in the new wave of marketing technology. Only where will the next ones come from? Which MarTech firm will sell for nearly $200 million like AddThis? Which firm will get billions from private equity like Cvent or Neustar?
Who is the next “Success Story”?
Editor’s Note: Data reported on this piece was collected using corporate web sites, Crunchbase, and Linkedin to identify population of companies and to characterize them by region, product category, and founding team backgrounds.