There’s been an awakening. Have you felt it? I’m pretty sure every MarTech “Jedi” just felt a tremor in The Force…Adobe is purchasing Marketo for $4.7bn.
Let that sink in.
In a string of acquisitions in the last five years, nothing has come close to this price. SAP bought Hybris for $1.5bn. Salesforce purchased ExactTarget for $2.5 bn. Both in 2013. Salesforce acquired DemandWare for $2.8bn in 2016. Add to the fact that Adobe was in the running for at least two of those companies themselves…it was time to make a statement. And a statement they have made. The mic has been dropped.
In a world where everyone is racing to create experiences, you need amazing software and practitioners to do it. You can either assemble a hodgepodge of solutions, or go with entire platforms (integrated or not). You can tell your IT dept you are going SaaS or IT can tell you that you need to go “On Prem.” You could decide to build the solutions yourself. In any scenario there are pros and cons. For every company, a decision on how you assemble your “stack” is very individual. There is no shortage of options for any company to use. The MarTech space is very, VERY crowded.
Over the last decade Adobe has been making changes and moves to assemble a suite of creative solutions and now marketing solutions. No other company can take you through the entire lifecycle of content creation to production to marketing to analysis than Adobe. No small feat. Not with out it’s own set of challenges. With any acquisition, integrating technologies takes planning, time, and sometimes hard work. When you are looking for growth, you need to identify where your gaps are and determine where you can acquire those skills or technology. You can either build, or buy. Adobe has done both.
Fill Your Gaps – Don’t Mind Them
I’ve been in several discussions when news broke last week that Adobe was in talks with Marketo. These sidebar conversations ranged from “Whoa, that’s interesting!” to “Doesn’t Marketo compete with Adobe Campaign?” Worthy conversations to say the least. It was a little bit of a head scratcher once the shock of name dropping of the two companies in the same sentence with the word “acquire” in there wore off. What will Adobe do with Marketo and why did they buy them? The answer is “fill gaps.” Yes, Adobe purchased Neolane in 2013 and has since rebranded it Adobe Campaign and has two versions of it. One is a grown version of the legacy Neolane product and the other is a rebuilt, rewritten version of Neolane in the cloud. Both versions do compete with Marketo to a degree. But, Marketo has features Campaign doesn’t, namely lead management (scoring, etc), account based marketing features, marketing attribution, data management and more. If you are a marketer in 2018, these are core tools in your current and future strategies. If you don’t have them implemented, they should be in your roadmap. Adobe Campaign lacks these features and I’m sure it was noticed.
When it comes to building, Adobe has their “Marketing Cloud Platform” which is a set of services, APIs, and other connective tissue beneath the surface of the larger solutions. There is no shortage of innovation going on there, which is where Adobe Sensei was born, their AI solution.
Building an Empire Means Always Evolving
Just over a week ago Forbes published the article “Why $128 Billion Adobe Is Running Scared“. Wait, what? Running scared? They are on top of every possible category as a leader for their technology. Why in the world are they running scared? Well, when you’re on top, everyone is coming for you. As Peter Carbonara wrote in that article:
The explanation for the expensive expansionism: In the rapidly changing world of software, small pieces of turf are hard to defend. There is always the risk that some larger company will either wrap a competing product into a larger suite you don’t offer or, worse, give away for free what you’re selling.
The target can’t be bigger for Adobe on their back. While it might not be advised to make two major acquisitions in the same year, let alone within four months, sometimes you need to evolve to keep pushing and leading the pack. There are few gaps left Adobe has to fill. They bolstered their marketing automation solutions today, and lack of commerce a few months ago with the purchase of Magento. Now integrating these solutions into the Experience Cloud is where Adobe can shine, bring value add, and give their customers a robust suite of solutions to connect with their customers.
65,000 Users Can’t Be Wrong
If you thought Adobe had an ecosystem of users, partners, and advocates, well…Marketo does too. The Marketing Nation conference is one of the marketing conferences to go to every year. Their customers are invested in their platform because it is such an essential tool to their “stack”. If you are going beyond basic email marketing and beyond a SMB, there are few tools to graduate to. It’s Hubspot, Marketo, CheetahDigital, and maybe a few more. To say that the Marketo Nation will fit in with the Adobe Marketing Nation is probably an understatement. I also think many, many Marketo customers use Adobe Experience Cloud solutions as well. So there is probably a more natural fit than one might think.
So, What’s Left to Buy?
So what’s left? In my opinion, CRM. One could argue that Marketo helps fill that hole, and it does a little. It buys them time, but I still think CRM is still a gap. Another gap is going to be where experiences traverse into voice, IoT, and AR/VR. While I know they have made some small purchases here, and they are indeed innovating, it has yet to be seen where it really shapes up and makes a mark. Could a DAM purchase be in their future? Adobe assets has become a solid solution, but it still has some features it lacks. That is also a byproduct of the state of content strategy, headless CMS, and where an “asset” isn’t just a document or picture. Finally, data visualization and other front-office tools. For now, their strategic relationship with Microsoft fills those holes.
So now we sit and wait. How will Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, and others respond to this news? Who knows. All I know is that Adobe Summit is going to be one hell of a time in March 2019.
Disclaimer: My employer, ICF, is a Premier Adobe Solutions Partner. The thoughts and opinions conveyed here are of my own. I do not have access to road maps or acquisition information.
This article was first published on LinkedIn.