What’s That in Marketing Technology Years?

I had a stimulating conversation yesterday with a very well known marketing tech vendor which is looking at refreshing its branding. The reasons made perfect sense, and I agreed that some aspects of the brand image had started to look a little dated (never mind which brand, I’ll tell you if and when it happens).

After the call, I checked to see how old the company was.  Founded early ’90s maybe? Nope. Around a decade.

Which got me thinking. For those of us who operate, or interact with, or write about marketing tech solutions every day, those solutions are so much a part of our waking (and sleeping) lives that they sometimes seem to have been around forever. We forget how young some of the leading solutions are. (The age of the space is something else: It depends what you count as marketing technology; certainly databases for storing hypothetically actionable customer data go back to the ’80s).

I conducted a brief and very informal survey:

  • The grizzled veteran of the field is arguably Salesforce. Sure, IBM and Hewlett-Packard are ancient in comparison, but it was Salesforce’s launch as a cloud-based offering in 1999, followed by its Exact Target product (which essentially became the Salesforce Marketing Cloud) in 2000 which is the obvious starting point for modern marketing tech as we know it. Eloqua is of similar vintage.
  • Not to be parochial, we should acknowledge that Europe was at least as early to the front-line. Episerver (Sweden) was providing automated email marketing services in the ’90s, and both Episerver and Sitecore (Denmark) were playing in the CMS/customer experience sandpit by the early ’00s.
  • Later in the decade, the marketing automation wave took off with the founding of companies like Act-On, Marketo, and Pardot (now Salesforce Pardot, of course).
  • Adobe and Oracle were relatively late to the marketing cloud game, with Adobe acquiring Omniture in 2009 and re-launching it as the Adobe Marketing Cloud in 2012, and Oracle acquiring Eloqua in 2012 and Responsys in 2013.
  • And no, I’m not researching the whole of the marketing tech 5,000.

The elderly marketing tech vendors, then, are around 16 to 18 years old.  The middle-aged, roughly a decade. And there are major players no more than about five years old who are clearly well into long pants and off to college.

If dog years (after the first two puppy years, anyway) equate to 5 human years, I’m going to say that a year in the life of a marketing tech company is worth at least the same in human years, arguably more. No wonder a 50 year old (in marketing tech years) is looking for a makeover.

No wonder the scene seems to move at the speed of light.

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