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We are introducing a bi-weekly summary of the most exciting recent news in marketing technology and trends. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

Marketers report the highest ROI on CRM over all automated customer technologies,  according to a new study conducted by the Harvard Business School and ON24 as reported by Media Post. Automated customer services ranked second followed by monitoring of social media and communications management, the survey said according to reporting by Media Post. Marketers surveyed warned of the risk of disappointing customers with overuse of automated responses and interactions.

Privacy International has hit Acxiom, Oracle, Criteo, Quantcast, Tapad, Equifax and Experian with a suit claiming violations of new GDPR rules. Complaints were issued in the UK, France and Ireland, according to reporting by Media Post, alleging wrongdoing in the compiling of data to build profiles of people that allegedly violates confidentiality.

Consumers feel more comfortable with brands depending upon the channel used to communicate with them, according to a study by Invoca. Personal interactions were preferred over all other types. In-person, phone and email contacts were preferred in that order. The respondents interviewed said a personal email could rectify a bad experience with a brand. Online chat rated below email in most industries covered.  Invoca surveyed 1,000 consumers in the U.S., and compiled the findings into a report alongside data from Adobe’s Experience Index.

The mobile location platform creator Teemo has joined up with data company LiveRamp to create a new, more powerful retail marketing platform. The combined platform will allow retail marketers to access granular CRM data revealing customer activity that is tied to specific retail locations for maximizing marketing investments at the store level. The new platform uses first-party data on consumers, according to reporting by DM News.

Spotify has grown its audience to 20% of all internet users in the US, according to reporting by Emarketer. Spotify’s audience of 58.4 million is still below Pandora’s 75.9 million users. Spotify’s user base is expected to grow by “double digits” in 2018. The report attributed Spotify’s success to its strategic partnerships, including with Hulu, and millennials’ attraction to Spotify’s personalization features. Emarketer predicts the audience for digital listeners in the US to hit 201.5 million this year.

Amazon now owns third place in all digital advertising in the US but remains well behind Google and Facebook, according to reporting by Emarketer. Advertising on Amazon will make up 4.1% of all digital ad spending in the country with marketers reporting they plan to increase their advertising spend on Amazon next year. A survey by Marin Software this year showed retail advertisers more favorably inclined towards Amazon’s platform compared with other industries.

What: The kyu Collective has announced that it has acquired a majority stake in six-year-old independent digital marketing services company Kepler Group.
Why it matters: Kyu will inherit the Kepler Intelligence Platform, a tool that automates the media buying process from ad creation to targeting.

The kyu Collective, a strategic unit of Hakuhodo DY Holdings, has acquired a majority stake in Kepler Group, a New York-based company focused on offering digital, programmatic, and CRM solutions. The investment in Kepler is the latest in a string of acquisitions by kyu including Digital Kitchen and Sid Lee. Kepler said it has been courted by a few traditional holding companies since it spun out of MediaMath six years ago; however, it was impressed by kyu’s focus on using creativity for social and cause-driven marketing projects, said Kepler CEO Rick Greenberg.

“Kyu has powerful companies in proposition development, product design, behavioral economics and creative,” Greenberg said. “We complete that mix by activating those capabilities in the marketplace through media and CRM.” With the acquisition, kyu will have access to the Kepler Intelligence Platform, a proprietary technology that automates the process of creation and optimization of programmatic targeting strategies.

“Kepler continues to be one of the fastest growing digital marketing services companies because the company exemplifies the future of scientific marketing,” stated Michael Birkin, CEO of kyu. “They are a great addition to The kyu Collective of member companies who represent the future in their domain: one of a kind, disruptive, and forward-thinking.”

Kepler’s integrated digital offering manages cross-channel customer marketing and nearly US $300 million in media spend. Clients include American Express, Bed Bath & Beyond, J. Crew, Fidelity, and Sling Latino. The financial terms of the agreement have not yet been disclosed.

[Featured image: Rick Greenberg and Michael Birkin]