The marketing technology landscape is changing quickly as large companies (new and old) gobble up small players in search of creating compelling marketing solutions.
Over the past 10 years, there have been a lot of changes in marketing, advertising and technology that set the wheels in motion for this evolution. People are online via mobile, desktop and tablet more often, some checking email nearly 24 hours per day. As connectivity evolves, so, too, do the demands of customers – inexorably raising the bar for marketers. At the nexus of these evolving trends are personalization and omni-channel digital marketing. Taken together, they promise a customer experience wherein customers receive the perfect message at the optimal time and in whatever way they choose to interact with the brand. In short, it promises an ever-improving customer experience, and more revenue for the marketer.
But it doesn’t work if those platforms don’t talk to each other. To solve that problem, technology-consulting Goliaths like Oracle, Salesforce.com and others have been buying up marketing technology companies (and their IP) to create true multichannel, cross-platform solutions.
So why is the time right for this new wave of marketing? There obviously are some macro-economic reasons why M&A looks great right now (including record low interest rates and ever-increasing cash piles at mature tech companies.) Also, as companies increasingly adopt cloud computing technologies and shared services, IT efficiency is improving, putting pressure on the margins of legacy vendors. Even more importantly, however, these companies are girding up for the fight over the next major frontier in IT spend — in order to maintain relevance and find new opportunities for growth.
As we’ve reached the tipping point for solutions to pull in data and generate valuable marketing content and insights, it’s now time for those solutions to speak to each other, if not become integrated entirely. It’s the age-old battle of best-of-breed versus integrated solutions, however, because, since most platforms are now built on open standards and data-interchange formats, the integrations challenges are far less daunting.
CMOs today are overseeing more than just media buying and ad campaigns from past generations; they’re tasked with generating real monetary return from their marketing efforts. In garnering some of their CIO counterparts’ tech budget, CMOs are now capable of seeing an entire marketing program (SEO, SEM, social, email, direct mail, content, etc.) from start to finish, with metrics explaining the value-add for each step along the way. Just as technology companies bought their way into consulting with their purchases of PWC and EDS, they’re now buying their way into the marketer’s ear.
Early-Stage Companies Are Agile
Legacy firms not only need the intellectual capital of the companies they are buying, but also the intellectual horsepower. Creating the technology platforms of the future requires building business on friendly APIs, employing teams who know the ins and outs of your platform (and any with complementary solutions) and an overall ability to make things work. Young marketing companies are built on these principles, and make it really easy for large tech companies to piece them together into a uniform solution.
M&A is the R&D of today’s day and age. Ten years ago, Facebook had not yet been founded and Kodak was part of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (i.e. – relevant). The marketing technology space is evolving at an incredible pace, and companies simply can’t innovate fast enough internally to keep up.
Marketing has been on the brink of this revolution for quite some time. Now that the market and tools are mature enough to offer a real solution to the problem, large technology companies are assessing the pieces for an end-to-end marketing solution then buying them in hopes of cobbling together the penultimate marketing engine.