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Adobe announced its intent to acquire CRM Watchlist 2013 winner Neolane yesterday, in arguably the best move since all the marketing cloud jockeying began. For an actually reasonable price of $600 million. By doing so, Adobe puts itself into a strong position in the fight for the leadership of the marketing cloud. They have essentially filled the holes they had in what is now almost a paradigmatic digital marketing suite.
Their approach was to spend an inordinate amount of time awkwardly trying to justify a customer experience management market, when there was none to be had, rather than focus their strategy and messaging on enabling a better customer experience. When Rob Tarkoff went to Lithium to be its CEO in 2011, they lost one of the few folks they had who understood the enterprise. So they floundered.
But a byproduct of this clumsy move was the creation of a set of cloud-based marketing tools focused in and around a digital customer experience. They were the kind of tools that a creative agency would be drawn to. The toolset consisted of:
If you look at this suite, it is aimed squarely at the comfort zone of Adobe – the agencies. While certainly an interesting group of services being delivered in the cloud, it ignores the management that is necessary at the enterprise level and thus, what marketers need.
Adobe had to have felt strong upward pressure from Oracle’s Marketing Cloud adding Eloqua and then salesforce’s Marketing Cloud adding Exact Target. Neolane was the arguably the best acquisition of the three. Its valuation was genuinely reasonably given what it offers. It has the added benefit of a strong customer base in Europe. While it has a few marquee customers in the U.S. like the Philadelphia Flyers, Barnes and Noble, and Disneyland Resorts, it doesn’t have much real presence here. That will clearly be remedied by this acquisition.
The only other downside of Neolane: It was bit by the same bug as Adobe and tried to create a market where there wasn’t one to be created. That would be “conversational marketing”, a term that is actually fairly meaningless when it comes to a market. But luckily that is irrelevant with Adobe’s acquisition since Adobe’s messaging will be at the forefront – as long as Adobe doesn’t try to create a CEM “market.”
Source: Associated Press