Must Love Marketing: Lessons from the Year’s Biggest Acquisitions (So Far)

For anyone who has been keeping up with M&A, digital or marketing news there’s no debate that marketing automation technology is where it’s at. As consumers spend more time online and create vast amounts of Big Data, major legacy players are snapping up emerging technologies to decipher this jargon into intelligence that can actually drive revenue.

A recent series of acquisitions have left the marketing world buzzing with prospects. I’m talking about the recent salesforce.com acquisition of ExactTarget and the even-more-recent Adobe acquisition of Neolane. When companies as big as those two behemoths make massive purchases, you know basically everyone across the business and technology world is listening.

At around $2.5 billion dollars, ExactTarget was a bank-shaking investment for salesforce.com. But with the increasing demand for better, faster marketing automation technology, salesforce is under pressure from shareholders and customers alike to offer a full-service suite of tools. The acquisition will add valuable email marketing capabilities to the salesforce.com CRM platform, as well as a whole array of other digital marketing services, signaling their commitment to automation technology. Only time will tell if it’s a worthwhile investment for the company as ExactTarget customers adjust to the changes – not to mention the executives!

Adobe acquired Neolane with the same intent in mind. The $600 million agreement comes with a treasure trove of cross-channel marketing campaign management solutions to upgrade the Adobe Marketing Cloud, their suite of cloud-based tools for marketers. It’s yet another validation point for the growing demand for omnichannel personalization across marketing communications. They’re still a step behind thinking campaign-first instead of user-first but that’s an argument for another day!

This recent spate of acquisitions should come as no surprise. Per Gartner, the CRM marketing automation segment will account for more than $4.2B of spend by 2016 and it appears to be an ever growing pie – up more than 20% in 2011 and 2012. Many legacy companies are just starting to grapple with this demand and it’s driving these players to buy up companies that are only beginning to cut their teeth in the market and then kludge them together.

At Sailthru, we saw this demand coming – Gen Y was brought up on online content consumption and now they have rising purchasing power. Brands know that they have to offer engaging, relevant and personalized communications at scale and powerful technology is how they’re going to achieve that. Who these brands choose to use is being decided everyday as the heat is being turned up. These acquisitions though still represent an old breed of marketing companies that built too early to be able to deliver the omnichannel personalization at scale that brands really need, right now.