At the start of 2019, martech expert Scott Brinker predicted it would be a buyer’s market for marketing tech merger and acquisition deals, ahead of what will be a “Second Golden Age of Martech.” Brinker’s forecast was spot-on with the martech industry seeing 246 mergers and acquisitions in the first half of 2019 alone, according to Statista — a dramatic increase from the 162 over the same period in 2018.
It wasn’t only software companies taking part in the martech M&A deals — this year we saw a trend of brands scooping up martech solutions as well. In March, McDonald’s bought Dynamic Yield to personalize digital experiences across its drive-thrus, kiosks and mobile app. A few months later, Nike bought the predictive analytics platform Celect to help forecast how and when consumers purchase certain styles.
While brands were picking up martech solutions to broaden their digital capabilities, social platforms also invested in their fair share of marketing technology: LinkedIn acquired identity resolution platform Drawbridge; Twitter purchased machine learning startup Fabula AI; and Facebook picked up Grokstyle, a visual technology company originally aimed at retailers.
These were the acquisitions and integrations that will continue to shape the ways marketers engage with technology in nearly every aspect of their jobs to serve and attract customers throughout their journeys.
Major martech acquisitions in 2019
- Salesforce expanded its data visualization capabilities with the acquisition of Tableau for $15.7 billion. The deal delivered more robust tools for users, helping marketers better extract data from the Salesforce CRM platform.
- Google, looking to enhance its cloud analytics offerings, bought Looker for $2.6 billion. With a client list that included the likes of Buzzfeed, Hearst, King, WPP Essesnce and Yahoo, Looker was a unified data and predictive analytics platform designed for enterprise-sized clients to analyze large datasets across clouds.
- Microsoft acquired e-commerce advertising vendor PromoteIQ, bringing the automated product marketing platform into its advertising division. The company enabled brand manufacturers to run sponsored ads on participating retailers’ e-commerce sites and offered analytic dashboards tracking campaign performance for retailers and advertisers.
- Cision expanded its social toolset with the purchase of Falcon.io, adding social management and social listening features to its earned media stack. The deal furthered Cision’s goal to deliver a comprehensive PR solution for marketers and PR professionals.
- Oracle added new loyalty solutions to its Customer Experience portfolio with the purchase of CrowdTwist, a customer loyalty platform. The deal allowed Oracle to integrate CrowdTwist’s technology into its Responsys, Eloqua and CX Unity platforms.
- The social media management platform Sprinklr bought Nanigans’ social ad business, raising the total amount of ad spend Sprinklr manages to more than $1.5 billion. The deal included the addition of Nanigans’ data management, predictive analytics, optimization, campaign management and granular real-time reporting for ad business across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Campaign Monitor, which is owned by CM Group, went on a buying spree, purchasing two enterprise marketing solutions: Sailthru, a cross-channel email marketing platform, and Liveclicker, a personalization solution for email marketers. The acquisitions helped round out CM Group’s email marketing platform offerings which already included Delivra and Emma.
- WP Engine, a WordPress digital experience platform, bulked up its capabilities when it acquired its competitor Flywheel. The deal brought Flywheel’s more than 28,000 clients to WP Engine’s platform and highlighted the growing consolidation trend within the martech industry.
- Similar to the Sprinklr-Nanigans deal, the video cloud solution Brightcove bought Ooyala’s online video platform business, expanding Brightcove’s video management capabilities and significantly growing its customer base. Brightcove confirmed it was acquiring the online video platform side of Ooyala’s business for $15 million.
- Automattic Inc., the company behind WordPress, purchased blogging platform Tumblr from Verizon Communications for an undisclosed amount. While financial details were not shared, Automattic’s CEO said it was the largest acquisition the company had ever made — both in price and headcount. At the time of the acquisition, Automattic executives said the company was looking at multiple ways to fold Tumblr’s services and functionality into the WordPress platform.
- Episerver, a digital experience platform, increased its personalization capabilities with the acquisition of Idio, a content intelligence and predictive analytics solution. Shortly after announcing the Idio acquisition, Episerver also purchased Insite Software, a B2B commerce solution.
- The martech platform Cheetah Digital acquired Wayin Inc., adding so-called “zero-party data” capabilities to its solution. Wayin’s technology, which was integrated into Cheetah Digital’s Marketing Suite and Loyalty platforms, allow marketers to create content like interactive quizzes, questionnaires and games that are aimed at collecting first-and zero-party data from consumers who opt-in to participate.
- In a move to further its reach into Europe, the multichannel message notification provider Urban Airship bought its EU competitor Accengage. The deal reportedly strengthened Urban Airship’s GDPR compliance capabilities and increased its volume to more than 90 billion notifications per month, a figure that includes in-app notifications, browser-based notifications, mobile wallet engagements, SMS, Facebook Messenger and email notifications.
- In its first major acquisition in more than two years, Hubspot acquired the integration as a service provider PieSync. The deal gave HubSpot users the ability to sync their data within the HubSpot system in real-time, making it possible to retrieve the most current customer information across whatever apps they have integrated with HubSpot.
Major martech integrations in 2019
Another big trend in the martech industry: integrations across advertising, chat, email and data solutions. Multiple martech platforms expanded their core offerings by partnering with compatible solution providers, integrating analytics dashboards to enhance their data capabilities and adding native connections to remove friction for marketers and advertisers. Here are a number of notable integrations that happened this year:
- Shopify continued to build out capabilities for e-commerce marketing with new partnerships, adding Apple Business Chat to Shopify Ping, advertising integrations with Facebook, Google, SnapChat and Microsoft as well as email partnerships with Seguno, Omnisend and SMSBump for cross-channel marketing.
- Adobe’s solution integrations this year included deeper partnerships with Microsoft, Drift, Roku and ServiceNow to bolster its ABM, OTT and customer service solutions. A tie-in for Adobe’s Experience Platform with SAP’s Qualtrics was added in May to help users gather and measure customer feedback across channels.
- Email automation provider iPost added an integration with Adobe’s Magento commerce cloud to inform email personalization with Magento behavioral and transactional data.
- Salesforce expanded its partnership with Microsoft, naming Microsoft Azure the public cloud provider for Marketing Cloud. Salesforce also said it planned on adding Microsoft Teams integrations for Salesforce Sales and Service Clouds in the coming months.
- The CDP Lytics launched an integration with Salesforce Marketing Cloud to enable users to view customer insights and execute campaigns between the two platforms. (Lytics also announced an integration with the suite of products in the Google Marketing Platform for ad targeting, analysis and optimization.)
- HubSpot partnered with Supermetrics, giving users new multi-portal analytics and reporting solutions. With HubSpot’s Google integrations already in place, users can now export the analytics gather via Supermetrics into Google Sheets, Google Data Studio and Excel.
- Adding its name to a long list of companies upping their messaging abilities, LogMeIn added WhatsApp and WeChat integrations to its Bold360 live chat customer engagement platform. LogMeIn reported it was working to add more channels, including Apple Business Chat and Google Business Messaging.
- Aiming to improve its ABM capabilities, Oracle Eloqua added a Metadata integration. By integrating Metadata’s technology into its platform, Oracle Eloqua made it possible for B2B users on the platform to automate their social ad campaigns against target accounts in bulk. The integration also made it possible for users to retrieve opt-in inbound leads from ABM campaigns and push them into Oracle Eloqua lists automatically.
Equity firms take their share
One more noticeable shift we saw happening in the industry this year was a number of equity firms taking ownership of marketing technology companies — putting a spotlight on the financial value of established martech platforms.
- Vista Equity Partners purchased the web management and digital experience company Acquia in a deal valued at $1 billion. The acquisition happened not long after Acquia had purchased two digital experience solutions: Mautic and Cohesion.
- IBM agreed to sell the remainder of its marketing and commerce software solutions, including the Watson Marketing portfolio, to Centerbridge Partners. The equity firm reported it plans to use the newly acquired solution to form a standalone company that will deliver marketing automation tools, customer experience analytics, AI-powered content management system, personalized search and more.
- San Antonio-based venture finance and equity firm Scaleworks acquired internal site search provider SearchSpring, a search navigation platform and merchandising technology for DTC companies and websites. The deal represents the firm’s first foray into the e-commerce industry.
- After spending the last five years gobbling up a number of martech companies, Cision entered an agreement to be acquired by the private equity firm Platinum Equity for $2.74 billion. Gartner analyst Andrew Frank said he believed the deal demonstrates how the industry is moving toward a more solid consolidation phase.
The high volume of marketing technology acquisitions, along with new integrations across martech systems, points to an overarching trend of growth in all-in-one platforms — a move likely to benefit marketers in the long run. As more platforms consolidate and integrate their capabilities, fragmented platforms lacking key features could become a thing of the past.