It's been yet another year of significant mergers and acquisitions in the marketing, advertising and customer technology sphere.
From Adobe's multi-billion dollar acquisition of the industry's best-of-breed marketing automation darling, to SAP's Qualtrics customer and employee experience management buy, Salesforce's whopping data visualisation investment and a bunch of private equity deals, the consolidation of the martech lumascape is showing no signs of abating - even as new entrants continue to creep into the ecosystem.
Here, CMO rounds-up what we saw to be some the biggest deals of the past 12 months.
Adobe buys Marketo (2018)A little over 12 months ago, Adobe completed its acquisition of Marketo, paying US$4.75 billion to purchase the lead management and B2B account-based marketing tech outfit.
The deal saw Marketo become part of the Adobe Experience Cloud, providing a strong B2B marketing automation platform to join the enterprise martech stack.
The hefty price tag made the acquisition one of the largest to occur across the marketing technology landscape, rounding out Adobe’s analytics, content, personalisation, advertising and commerce capabilities of its own customer technology cloud
Read more about the Marketo acquisition.
SAP buys Qualtrics (2018)The price point record didn't last long. By the end of 2018, German enterprise software giant, SAP, had bought experience management vendor, Qualtrics, for US$8 billion. The deal came just as the software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform was preparing for an initial public offering.
The purchase also came just months after SAP rebranded its Hybris business under C/4Hana, a portfolio that incorporates marketing, ecommerce, service and customer data cloud platforms. Both the rebranding and the Qualtrics deal were part of efforts to reflect the vendor’s focus on delivering a comprehensive end-to-end customer journey management ecosystem of products.
Read more about the Qualtrics acquisition.
Salesforce buys Tableau (2019)
Another whopper of an acquisition at the enterprise software end of town was Salesforce's purchase of Tableau.
The cloud CRM vendor took a huge leap forward in the data visualisation and analytics space, picking up Tableau for an unprecedented US$15.7 billion. The all-stock acquisition was confirmed on 10 June and already had the approval of shareholders.
At the time, the deal was described as a way for Salesforce customers to unlock greater value from their data, as well as drive the vendor a further step forward in what IDC identifies as the US$1.8 trillion digital transformation space.
Read more about the Tableau acquisition.
The deal came after Salesforce had made another acquisition to step up its Marketing Cloud data analytics capabilities.
The company in July 2018 purchased AI-powered data analytics player, Datorama, in a deal estimated to be worth upwards of US$800 million. The deal enhanced Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud offering with expanded data integration, intelligence and analytics, further enabling platform users to better access data insights from across the marketing and customer technology systems.
Read more about the Datorama acquisition.
Google buys Looker (2019)Also lifting its data analytics game in 2019 was Google, which acquired business intelligence, data applications and embedded analytics business, Looker, in a deal worth US$2.6 billion.
Looker joined Google Cloud bringing a more comprehensive analytics solution, including ingesting and integrating data, embedded analytics and visualisations, to enable enterprises to tap analytics, machine learning and AI.
Read more about Looker and its CMO.
IBM sells off martech assets, creates Acoustic (2019)
Elsewhere, IBM was looking to offload its marketing and commerce cloud offerings in order to give them stronger commercial focus.
In April, big blue signed definitive agreement with Centerbridge Partners to acquire IBM’s marketing platform and commerce software offerings, along with the leadership team and employees. Upon closure of the deal, the technology platforms and employee base would be transformed into a new entity with a fresh identity.
The subsequent rebadging was announced in August. Acoustic was positioned as an independent enterprise marketing cloud player with several key offerings: The Acoustic Marketing Cloud, incorporating Acoustic Campaign; Experience Analytics (formerly Tealeaf); Content (formerly Content Hub); Personalisation (formerly Real-Time Personalisation); Journey Analytics; Digital Analytics; and Exchange (formerly Universal Behaviour Exchange).
Read more about the IBM / Acoustic changes.
Vista private equity buys Acquia (2019)A more recent private equity buy was digital experience management vendor, Acquia.
The company was picked up by Vista Equity Partners in December in a deal valued at US$1 billion. It came hot on the heels of Acquia’s recent acquisitions of Mautic and Cohesion and was described as another step forward in its efforts to build a holistic digital experience platform (DXP) space. The acquisition gives the martech player access to more resources, R&D funding and capabilities to scale.
Read more about the Acquia acquisition.
Publicis Groupe acquires Epsilon (2019)
It wasn't just private equity firms on the martech and adtech scent. One of the world's largest holding companies, Publicis Groupe, acquired Epsilon in a US$4.4 billion deal in 2019, giving the marketing and communications agency giant access to the first-party customer data technology and proprietary platform.
Epsilon provides marketing technology as well as data services for customer interaction management, and the deal is aimed at accelerating Publicis’ efforts to provide transformation services to marketers. Around since 1969, the company has 9000 staff across 70 offices worldwide and chalked up US$1.9 billion in net revenue in 2018, 97 per cent of which was in the US.
The business was acquired by Alliance Data Systems for US$300 million back in 2004. Since then, and like many in the martech sphere, Epsilon has bulked up by purchasing several complementary organisations including performance marketing player, Hyper Marketing (2012) for US$460 million, Aspen Marketing Services (2011) and Abacus (2006) for $435 million.
Read more about the Epsilon acquisition.
Zeta buys Sizmek, IgnitionOne, Temnos (2019)
Adtech was also in the M&A spotlight as instability across the sector materialised.
Zeta Group was confirmed as Sizmek’s DMP and DSP acquirer in April this year after the adtech filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The CRM vendor paid about US$36 million for the embattled adtech vendor. The deal came less than three years after Sizmek was purchased by private equity firm, Vector Capital, for US$122 million.
READ MOREPredictions: 9 digital marketing predictions for 2020In September, Zeta signed a deal to take over the DSP assets of IgnitionOne. IgnitionOne has since sold off its assets and closed down.
Read more about the Sizmek sell-off.
Earlier in the year, Zeta Global acquired Silicon Valley artificial intelligence (AI) company, Temnos, which created a proprietary semantic technology to analyse language and detect patterns for online publishers on the open Web.
Roku buys Dataxu (2019)Another notable adtech deal in 2019 was by streaming outfit, Roku, which spent US$150 million to acquire dataxu, a demand side platform (DSP) enabling marketers to plan and buy video ad campaigns.
dataxu provides marketers with an automated bidding and self-serve software solution to manage ad campaigns programmatically across digital platforms. Dataxu utilises advanced TV and OTT media planning tools, a proprietary device graph, and data science to help marketers optimize for business outcomes across TV, OTT, desktop and mobile.
Read more about the dataxu acquisition.
SugarCRM buys Salesfusion (2019)SugarCRM, a customer management vendor backed by private equity firm, Accel-KKR, was another on the acquisition trail this year, and acquired SaaS marketing automation innovator, Salesfusion, in May.
The purchased followed SugarCRM’s acquisition of Collabspot’s email integration products to enhance its email integration capabilities and take another step towards Sugar’s vision to deliver the most intuitive and collaborative user experience while eliminating data entry.
Qlik buys Attunity (2019)On the data management front, Qlik acquired Attunity in February, expanding its enterprise data management and enabling real-time analytics. The deal was worth about US$560 million.
Building on Qlik’s acquisition of Podium Data and the introduction of Qlik Data Catalyst, Attunity provided cross-platform data streaming capabilities to support a shift to cloud and real-time analytics. The acquisition was described by Qlik as a way to further differentiate by providing an expanded breadth of enterprise data management capabilities, while adding an experienced team of data professionals to its team.
Dun & Bradstreet buys Lattice Engines (2019)In a sign of the rising interest and proliferation of customer data platforms (CDPs), Dun & Bradstreet joined the acquisition throng this year to acquire Lattice Engines.
The AI-powered CDP enables B2B organisations to scale their account-based marketing and sales programs across every channel. The transaction helps Dun & Bradstreet to offer integrated data and analytics solutions for sales and marketing professionals. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Read more about the Lattice acquisition.
Mastercard buys SessionM (2019)Brands were also among the companies snapping up martech and adtech capability in 2019. One high-profile example was Mastercard's acquisition of SessionM, a customer engagement and loyalty platform.
SessionM's offering enables retailers, airlines, restaurants and CPG companies to enhance profitable consumer relationships. Mastetcard said the addition of SessionM would help its brands deliver personalised, real-time offers and campaign measurement using data-driven insights.
READ MOREPredictions: 10 technology trends in marketing for 2020In its statement, Mastercard noted it had made a number of investments to advance its data-driven services for retailers and other brands over recent years. Another example was its acquisition of Applied Predictive Technologies, a test-and-learn analytics tool.
McDonalds acquires Dynamic Yield (2019)McDonald’s was another brand buying up adtech, and snapped up Dynamic Yield, a personalisation technology company for more than US$300 million.
The deal was positioned as enabling McDonalds to provide a personalised customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items.
Read more on the Dynamic Yield acquisition.
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Pro Tip: A look back at some notable tips from our martech community in 2019Here are 8 tips from our martech-focused marketers worth a second look.Over the past year, our community of expert marketers have shared a variety of insights to help fellow digital marketers. Here’s a roundup of a few pro tips that were popular with readers in 2019.
1. Is your social media policy agile?“Social media is by its very nature meant to be two-way communication and its critical that even large, regulated companies are able to trust and empower people to react and respond in real time,” explains Stacey Ackerman of Agilify. “If employees are required to get approvals, communication is delayed and customers will feel ignored and undervalued. If you have a legal team that is used to responding to all of the company, a better structure in agile marketing is to have a representative affiliated with teams. While social media policies began as ways to protect the company and controlling how we respond, we need to loosen the reins and take into account the risk of not being there for our customers. It’s time to focus on relationships with our customers and tearing down the guard rails we’ve put up during the last decade.” MORE >>
2. Hitting the pause button on email“Email gives recipients the ability to pause a conversation. The pause can take multiple forms, and here’s where marketers need to pay attention,” explains Len Shneyder of Twilio SendGrid. “There are good pauses and there are bad pauses. A good pause is one that can be communicated through a preference center. The more robust a brand’s email preference center, the more utility it can provide the recipient to customize the cadence and frequency of conversations. Poorly designed preference centers will by default give recipients the impetus to use a different form of pause – marking a message as spam. When that happens the overall sending reputation of a brand takes a hit. So which would you prefer? Delivering less email that’s regarded as high quality enough to keep in the inbox, or being banished?” MORE >>
3. Trends need to be watched for brand safety“New and varied trends like slime or ASMR need to be watched carefully. When content views skyrocket around particular events or themes, there can be serious brand safety risks if brands try to ride the wave without adequate monitoring,” cautions Tony Chen of Channel Factory. “A recent focus on the role of comments on YouTube shows that even innocent content can contain elements that brands will need to review and refine regularly, especially when parts of the category appeal to kids.” MORE >>
4. AI and the emerging ‘Do It For Me’ economy“While intelligent machines are being empowered to make some decisions, marketers’ jobs are not in danger – at least, not those who are willing to learn to work with them,” explains CMO advisor Andy Betts. “In fact, intelligent automation can act as a great complement to and even dramatically improve human performance, when used… well, intelligently. What’s more, humans can enhance the value of a software application by specializing in it and helping others reap the greatest benefit from using it. Some have referred to this opportunity as the ‘Do It For Me’ economy and it is creating new revenue streams. Rather than software-as-a-service, each using automation complemented by a secondary level of human expertise – deliver software-with-a-service. In making experts available to power the machine, they help customers get the maximum value possible from the program. DIFM is not an entirely new phenomenon, but the tech-powered evolution of business process outsourcing or managed services. Once reserved for the wealthiest and largest brands, the new managed services are a hybrid of intelligent automation and specialized human services that deliver both the scale and expertise it takes to meet consumers’ heightened expectations.” MORE >>
5. Only collect data you can use to deliver value“To adopt a leaner data strategy, brands need to hyper-focus on the needs of your target customers, and that starts with asking the right questions,” explains Jeremy Korst of GBH Insights. “1) What data is essential to improving CX and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) over time? 2) When customers provide you with their personal data, what value are you offering in exchange? 3) What sources should we use for the data? 4) How can we minimize the amount of data our company collects (minimum viable data)? By asking these questions and sourcing the right data, we better understand target customers, purchasing behavior, habits and preferences, and in turn deliver better products, experiences and marketing offers. By creating focus, CMOs can also vastly improve ROI for their marketing analytics investment.” MORE >>
6. Why account-based marketers need to focus on engagement, not CPMs“When it comes to advertising, B2B marketers have been sold metrics that have nothing to do with business impact,” cautions Peter Isaacson of Demandbase during his session at the MarTech West conference. “They are told they should focus on CPMs, purchase inventory as cheaply as possible and focus on click-through-rates, even if those clicks have absolutely zero chance of buying your products. This is often why marketers lose credibility with their C-level peers. Chief Revenue Officers and CEOs don’t care about CPMs or click-through-rates but publishers and ad tech vendors push this because they are the only metrics they can sell. As B2B marketers, and Account-Based Marketers specifically, we should care about what percentage of our target accounts are actually engaging with our content, which of our target accounts are making it onto our website and what percentage of those target accounts that saw the advertising are making it a pipelined business.” MORE >>
7. With the right strategy, video can help local businesses“Video is intimidating for a lot of local businesses. It costs more and takes a much broader skill set than most other types of online marketing. But, there’s a bright side to this,” explains Jacob Baadsgaard of Disruptive Advertising. “Anytime something is hard to do, there’s a business opportunity to be found. In this case, the fact that video is hard means that most local businesses aren’t doing it. That leaves the field wide open for any companies that learn how to make video work. So, if you take the time to figure out a workable video ad strategy, you’ll often be way ahead of the competition. Even if the competition is already doing video ads, if you can get in on the game (or figure out how to do them more effectively), you’ll be able to stay relevant and maintain your competitive edge.” MORE >>
8. CMOs need to lay the groundwork for new realities, now“Today’s CMO needs to be part reality-checker and part soothsayer, helping the board accept new realities,” explains MarTech Boston speaker Kristina Podnar of NativeTrust. “1) Having the right products at the right price matters far less than it used to. Customers want to feel like the stores they visit care about them. They want a relationship and the personalization that follows. 2) Customers know businesses are tracking their every move, and most are willing to accept it if they get something of value in exchange and are comfortable that their data is secure. 3) There’s a wealth of insights to be gained from all of that data, but extracting those insights is exponentially harder than it used to be and requires new approaches applied by people with new skills. 4) Some competitors are already pushing the envelope. If their initiatives succeed, we’d better be prepared to catch up fast – so let’s lay the groundwork now.” MORE >>
Pro Tip is a special feature for marketers in our community to share a specific tactic others can use to elevate their performance. You can submit your own here.
Wendy Almeida on December 26, 2019 at 8:00 am
As we enter into a new decade in a few days, I think it is safe to say that time flies as fast as technology is evolving. The same can also be said about consumer interests, which are rapidly changing and becoming harder to predict manually. Taking cognizance of this, the latter half of the decade gone by saw the increasing penetration of marketing technology, which helped marketers understand their target audience and aided their outreach programmes.
There was a time when artificial intelligence, voice search engine optimisation, and data-driven marketing were considered ambitious and novelty concepts. Today they are among the top priorities for most digital marketers and brands alike, and will continue to dominate the market in 2020. After all, for one’s brand to remain relevant, they must adapt to the evolving digital market. Here are five trends one should consider investing time and resources into, in order to succeed in the coming year.
User Experience Is the Master KeyOver the course of the 2010s, the rising use of smartphones and mobile applications has fuelled growth of marketing through these platforms. Marketers must remember that despite the technological advancements and improvements in gadgets, the user’s experience is ultimately vital to a brand’s success. Therefore, one must pay heed to UX design, incorporating the use of senses such as touch, sight, and sound. Additionally, UX has gained more importance due to its ties with search engine optimisation. As the leading browsers strive to bring the most optimal results for their users, they take into account every feature of the search result—on-site content, user experience, mobile-friendliness and more. Thus, marketers need to put greater focus on enhancing UX.
MinimalismThe marketing and advertising game has seen a major change over the last decade, with the inclusion of digital platforms. With the shift in customer values and an increasingly cluttered media landscape, traditional methods of promotion have been rendered less effective. New forms of advertising have risen to meet this challenge, with minimalism finding rousing success. The minimalism concept is based on the idea of ‘less is more’, but this doesn’t mean that there is decreasing effort or thought in creating messages. Instead, more attention needs to be paid to every minute detail, in order to create the desired impact. Minimalistic advertising relies heavily on visual elements, with little to no written copy accompanying it. This type of advertising stands out from the clutter of information-laden promotional content, acting as a balm to the customer’s mind.
User Generated Content (UGC)Consumers are wary of brand messages, and prefer to listen to their peers when making a decision. As a result, approximately 60 per cent of consumers think UGC is more authentic and trustworthy, making this an important avenue for brands to explore while carrying out promotions. Some of the most common UGC activities that can be leveraged by brands include reviews, ratings, testimonials, influencer posts, and videos and social media posts and mentions.
AR/VR Based MarketingExperience matters today, more than ever, when engaging with a customer. Consumers are increasingly looking for more than the traditional content from brands and this has made marketers explore new avenues, integrate technology and develop innovations in the marketing landscape. One of the breakthrough innovations in advertising has come from using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology to convey the brand’s promotional activity. Through the use of AR, users can, through the comfort of their phone’s camera, view how a particular location will look like, or how it will be set up, without any physical labour. Similarly, with VR, consumers can be physically transported to a simulated environment, for an almost life-like feel of a product. More and more brands from different industries are increasingly turning to these techniques to approach the consumers effectively.
In addition to the above, chatbots—which have already made their mark on the digital interface—along with 360 degree videos, and human-centred ORM will dominate the marketing sphere in the years to come. Along with this, customized voice search dashboards, shoppable posts and ads and visual search functions will propel the marketing practices to new levels of success. After all, the customer is king, and these are just some of the expectations that brands have to live up to, in order to retain them, in today’s highly competitive market.