Software maker Adobe made a splash in the marketing technology world this week when it announced a $4.5 billion acquisition of marketing automation company Marketo, expanding its Experience Cloud portfolio of marketing tools to support business-to-business campaigns. Assuming it goes through as planned, the deal would bring together two leaders in the marketing technology space at a critical juncture – and signal a strengthening wave of acquisitions.
Acquiring Marketo will help Adobe compete with other major technology companies that offer their own marketing software suites, including Salesforce and Oracle. Experience Cloud is one of the leading suites for companies that market directly to consumers though historically it has been weaker at providing business-to-business capabilities like account-based marketing. This deal should enable Adobe to better serve those needs.
Business users expect personalized marketing, rich campaigns and modern collateral. Adobe’s acquisition should be a wake-up call that customers – even those buying on behalf of a business – expect the sort of polish that companies can achieve only by using advanced technology.
Enterprises should expect additional consolidation in the marketing tech space over the coming years as technology giants hoarding massive cash look to shore up their offerings with innovative capabilities from smaller firms. A massive number of marketing tech companies are currently operating, each delivering their own spin on enterprise capabilities. It makes sense for larger tech titans to build up their suites by acquiring the technologies and talent they need to match the latest developments in a fast-moving space.
All the major tech players have shown they’re willing to be aggressive when it comes to picking up marketing tech companies. Salesforce Marketing Cloud started with the 2013 acquisition of ExactTarget, and Adobe kicked off the product line that would become Experience Cloud with its purchase of Omniture in 2009.
The heat under marketing tech shows no sign of cooling down, either. Machine learning enables tech vendors to create software that improves campaigns through increased personalization and predictive analytics. A wave of new startups is bringing these capabilities to market, and larger players including Adobe, Salesforce, Microsoft and Oracle are investing heavily in the research and development necessary to provide them.While it’s unclear exactly how the current competitive landscape will shake out, enterprises should strap in for a wild ride. The combination of continued development of advanced technologies, the necessity of applying those technologies for sales success and the number the major tech companies locked in competition means marketing tech will remain an interesting space for the foreseeable future.