Adobe Thunders Into the Marketing Cloud Wars

Updated Tuesday, July 23: Adobe Systems Inc. announced that it has completed of its acquisition of Neolane, a provider of cross-channel campaign management technology.

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The consolidation among marketing vendors continues. Just weeks after CRM vendor announced the approximate $2.5 billion purchase of email marketing services provider ExactTarget, digital marketing and digital media solutions provider Adobe Systems today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Neolane for about $600 million cash. The latter offers cross-channel campaign management technology, a tool Adobe says is important to round out its marketing arsenal.

“The value [for direct marketers] of bringing Neolane into the Adobe Marketing Cloud is integrating the offline with the online,” says Matthew Langie, senior director, strategic marketing, at Adobe.” Where Neolane excels is cross-channel campaign management. Marketing is no longer about just multichannel; it’s about the intelligence that allows for rich personalization. Customers want engagement with brands.”

This acquisition comes as no surprise to industry watchers. “After going to Adobe Digital Summit in early March and seeing what they had put together, it was the most interesting approach to Marketing Cloud design I had seen.  And because of that it made sense that they would either partner with the big CRM vendors to fill out the missing pieces, or buy the missing pieces.  And with their acquisition history it was no surprise they decided to go that route and buy a market leader like Neolane,” says Brent Leary, partner at CRM Essentials. In fact, in the most recent CRM Playaz episode Leary and industry expert Paul Greenberg discuss Adobe’s not-so-stealth moves to position itself as a marketing industry leader.

According to Langie, the acquisition continues Adobe’s long-term strategy to build out its marketing capabilities; it’s not a knee-jerk response to other recent acquisitions—for example’s’s purchase of ExactTarget. “This is a purposeful acquisition” that is on the continuum that began with Adobe’s acquisition of Omniture and then Day Software, he says. “It’s about delivering on the promise we’ve made to our customers to provide the most comprehensive marketing platform available,” Langie adds.

Indeed, Neolane will be the sixth piece of the Adobe Marketing Cloud. The five existing offerings are Analytics, Experience Manager, Social, and Media Optimizer, and Target. Adobe’s goal is to provide a more unified view of customers, one that will help marketers deliver more richly personalized customer experiences and communications and see real ROI.

“Marketing in today world requires a three-legged stool of data, content, and cross-channel campaign management,” Langie says. “It’s critical to have all three to be effective in marketing these days.”

Data needs to come from across channels, including direct marketing, point of sale, the contact center, the web, mobile, and social. “Data is fundamental,” he says, adding that content is, as well. “There’s no marketing without content.”

Marketers need a tool that’s strong in both the creation and management of content, Langie adds. And cross-channel campaign management is the third supporting element because it helps manage the complexity of marketing across channels, while revealing the best-performing channel for that content. “Customer not only expect, but demand” rich personalization and engaging content, he says.

Will this acquisition be the end of the big deals in the marketing world? Not by a long shot, says CRM Essentials’ Leary. “While everyone’s been watching the traditional CRM superpowers go on a marketing automation shopping spree,” he says, “Adobe had assembled a marketing cloud built to bring marketing creatives and marketing analysts closer together to improve the customer experiences, mostly for B2C organizations.  Now with the purchase of Neolane, they add traditional automation and workflow capabilities B2B marketing organizations need to move to leads to sales teams to close deals.  In many ways Adobe now has the pieces to assemble the most comprehensive marketing cloud solution on the market.  The ante just got upped.  How the CRM heavies respond to this new competitive threat coming from the outside is going to be fascinating.”

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