Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Continued Move Toward Marketing Automation

Recent acquisitions by Marin, MediaMath, and Kenshoo are a sign of more to come as competition heats up in the marketing automation sector.
Marin Software has taken a more serious move into social marketing with its acquisition last week of Social Moov, a social ads platform based in France. The value of the deal is estimated at around $20.75 million and immediately injects Marin with social marketing capabilities, allowing its customer base to tap into Facebook video ad units, Twitter Ads API support, and television synchronization capabilities, which all augment its current social offering. 

This is just another recent move toward a consolidation in social marketing automation, an industry currently valued at $3.65 billion according to a February 2015 eMarketer report. 

This move by Marin comes on the heels of MediaMath’s acquisition of social ad firm Upcast back in October of last year. 

According to MediaMath chief operating officer (COO) Ari Buchalter: "Our mission is to assemble a full end-to-end stack for our advertisers – one single platform that allows them to access media across channels. Facebook [and other social sites] represent a large and growing share of consumer attention, so this was a critical piece to add." 

MediaMath had originally considered building its own social ad buying technology in-house, however, opted instead to acquire, which allows them to quickly offer this new functionality to its client-base. 

Both Marin and MediaMath might have been originally influenced by Kenshoo’s acquisition of Adquant in September of last year. The Adquant acquisition gives Kenshoo, traditionally in search and predictive marketing technology, a stronger footprint into the social advertising market and an entry into solutions for mobile applications, customer lifetime value optimization and penetration into the gaming vertical, all of which Adquant is a leader at. 

Three significant acquisitions in the last six months is testament toward the uber competitive marketing automation market we are seeing right now. This market is estimated to reach $5.5 billion by 2019 according to eMarketer.

These acquisitions are really a perfect match. 

Marin, Kenshoo, and MediaMath are three large technology organizations with global scale. However, each is missing a key technology piece that can be filled by the new acquisitions. And for the newly acquired Social Moov, Upcast, and Adquant, being part of a bigger family immediately gives them access to a larger global network where they can look to take their existing clients to. 

Over time, these organizations want to build products that are integrated, allowing them to provide their clients with truly holistic digital marketing capabilities. A one-stop shop end-to-end technology platform that can essentially power your entire digital marketing program. And I believe for both brands and agencies looking to drive efficiencies themselves, this is a good thing. 

In a November 2014 survey from covering around 5,000 marketers worldwide, 22 percent of them were reportedly using marketing automation, with 34 percent saying they plan to begin using in the next 12 months.  

This represents a huge upside for marketing automation companies. Hence the significant move toward acquisitions as of late. 

With marketing automation we can clearly see an improvement around campaign efficiency and effectiveness, better operational visibility, and a higher quantification of marketing value among other benefits. 

And traditionally we have seen large data focused companies in the arena of travel, finance, and retail take advantage of marketing automation, but we are now starting to see a variety of other verticals test it out to help them shorten their sales cycles and to close deals. 

Moving forward we will most likely continue to see further consolidation as competition heats up. Marin, MediaMath, and Kenshoo are just the start. 

And I would suspect that marketing automation starts to even bleed into other channels like content and maybe even traditional TV, offering agencies and brands a truly integrated offering.


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