News Analysis: Adobe Acquires Cross Channel Marketing Expert Neolane For $600M

On June 27th, Adobe announced a letter of intent to acquire Neolane for $600M.  Neolane is a privately held, French-headquartered marketing automation software company with 47 of the top Fortune 500 companies as customers.

Marketers are thinking less about “digital marketing” and more about how to market in a world driven by digital engagement, interaction and commerce. The shift to digital has seen 20% of ad spending move to the digital domain, and is expected to reach over $50 billion in the US by 2015. And with 64% of advertisers planning to increase their paid social media ad budget and strong overall ad budget growth expected through 2015, the need for cross-channel analytics and automation is becoming pronounced.

For existing customers of Adobe, this has become a whole lot easier from today. With the announcement that Adobe is to acquire Marketing Automation leader, Neolane for $600 million in an all-cash transaction, real meat has been added to the Adobe marketing automation bone.

Forming part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, integration plans will begin from today with the transaction expected to close in Q3 2013.

Marketers may not realize it yet, but the only way that they can deliver on their customers expectations is to begin investing not just spending. And a core part of this investment through 2015 is to establish scalable marketing platforms, that deliver right time insight, robust analytics and cross-channel capabilities.

What this means for Adobe

Powerful segmentation, cross-channel segmentation augments the Adobe Marketing Cloud.

The consumer master data record was one of the major benefits of the Neolane platform.  Combining anonymous and known data will connect the dots between customer data, activity in channel and behaviour which is where the Adobe Marketing Cloud’s sweet spot lays.

The fact that Neolane also operates from a single, unified code base has obvious integration appeal from Adobe’s point of view. This should allow a more rapid integration of the Neolane functionality into the Adobe platform.

Neolane’s strong client base also provides Adobe with a stronger route to market in EMEA. The Neolane team will continue to report into CEO Stefane Dehoche. Stefan will report into Brad Rencher.

What this means for Neolane

Neolane’s strong business performance in 2012 – with 40% consolidated growth – largely led by North American market push – will benefit from the acquisition. This deal extends the Neolane footprint providing access to the Adobe partner network. This will help the push into the large/enterprise segment and see the Adobe Marketing Cloud go head to head with Salesforce, IBM and Oracle.

What does this mean for customers?

In Constellation Research’s Scaling Up with Marketing Automation Software – market overview report, Neolane was consistently ranked among the leaders in the industry. The gaps in their offering dovetail neatly with the strengths offered in the Adobe Marketing Cloud and combined, they represent a powerful change in the industry landscape.

Combine this acquisition with the recent Marketo IPO and Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua, and it shows not only consolidation across the market but a strategic strengthening of the offerings in the marketing platform space. With this deepening will also come a maturing in the market both in terms of platform buying and process automation.

  • One record to rule them all. Connecting the dots between known and unknown customers delivers significant value not just to marketers but to a whole business. Bridging the various social, digital, customer service and sales profiles that are required by the modern enterprise has contributed to the fragmentation of roles and the wasting of budgets. The use of a customer master data record opens the door to the “whole of customer” view which is not just an aspiration – but is like the marketer’s ring of power.
  • Lead nurturing and scoring reduce funnel leakage. In complex sales cycles, the buyer’s journey can take months or even years. Reducing funnel leakage through automated scoring of prospects against customer segmentation data and audience profiling provides light touch marketing that can increase lead quality and improve yield on marketing campaign investment over time. The new Adobe Marketing Cloud – combining the strength of Neolane with Adobe Analytics – provides marketers with the decision-ready analytics that help optimize cross-channel marketing programs
  • Consistency of user experience drives adoption: Business users already familiar with the logic, systems and interface of the Adobe Marketing Cloud will be able to transition easily to the integrated suite. Existing internal supporters of the platform become change advocates and further spur internal adoption and rollout through enterprise marketing teams. This, in turn, will lead to accelerated ROI
  • Connecting the Creative and Marketing Clouds: The widespread use of Adobe Creative Cloud in the execution of marketing campaigns has the potential to make the job of marketing execution much more streamlined. And in a world of right time and near-real time marketing, combining the creative and marketing clouds could provide not only market leading responsiveness – but game changing competitive advantage
  • Accelerated return on investment: With change champions and wider acceptance within the user community, organizations see accelerated return on investment (ROI) as use cases proliferate and uptake is spurred.

What does this mean for consumers?

Today’s connected consumers don’t care about a business’ digital strategy. They don’t care about your mobile strategy. What they care about is the products and services that are delivered and the consumable experience that is packaged as part of that delivery. The promise of marketing platforms is that some of the clunkiness of branded experience will disappear – and that the experience will become seamless and ubiquitous. Removing the friction in the customer experience is transformative.

What else can we expect?

For some time we have been tracking the shift away from the B2B and B2C classifications of marketing to what is essentially peer-to-peer (P2P) marketing. While this is essentially an innovation driven by consumers, this kind of acquisition helps marketers to respond to that market demand.

Like all acquisitions, the success of this will be driven by the ability of Adobe to integrate the substantial benefits and features that Neolane offers. As the deal closes and new combined product roadmap begins to take shape, this combined offering represents significant upside not only for existing Adobe and Neolane customers, but for businesses seeking greater value from their marketing investments.

Full Press Release:  Adobe to Acquire Neolane

Blog from Adobe SVP, Brad Rencher, sharing his perspective on the announcement:   Advancing the Marketing Cloud with Neolane

Announcement FAQ:  Acquisition FAQ

The NORAD of ABC in Austin Trey Ratcliff via Compfight

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