Industry debates significance of Marketo-Google martech alliance

Marketing automation powerhouse replatforms on Google's public cloud, and announcing integration plans between the two companies

Marketo’s new partnership with Google Cloud will not only improve the scalability and reliability of the marketing automation and engagement platform, it could also give the martech landscape a shake-up, analysts claim.

Last week, Marketo announced a multi-year collaboration agreement with Google Cloud that will see the vendor shift its infrastructure into the search giant’s public cloud offering. As a result, all running of Marketo’s products, end-to-end, will be delivered out of a third-party cloud.

The two companies are also planning to work together to create integrated solutions for marketers, uniting Marketo’s Engagement Platform with Google’s G Suite and data analytics offerings, and bringing more of Google’s machine learning smarts into the former’s platform.

In a statement, Marketo CEO, Steve Lucas, said the alliance will simplify and improve how the vendor’s clients engage with their end customers. Marketo claims to have more than 6000 customers globally.

“Marketo customers use our Engagement Platform to deliver personalised experiences, fuelling revenue growth and improving brand impact, while scaling to support the demands of today's digital landscape. This collaboration with Google takes that capability to new heights, and I'm incredibly excited about what we'll provide together for our customers,” he said.

One of the charges levelled by clients and the market at Marketo over the years has been challenges scaling the platform to cope with enterprise-grade, real-time operations. Last year, Marketo took a major step forward to rectify this, replatforming its core architecture as part of a project code-named ‘Project Orion’.

Tapping Google’s scale and infrastructure will allow the vendor to further develop and deploy product innovation more quickly and efficiently, Lucas said. In addition, Google, as a current customer of Marketo, will expand its usage of Marketo’s Engagement Platform to improve customer interactions.

Raab Associates principal, David Raab, noted Marketo’s reliability and performance problems in recent years, which while not crippling, have been a source of frustration for customers. The latest announcement also states Marketo will be able to take advantage of analytics provided by Google Cloud services, suggesting the vendor is moving at least some data onto a Google platform that includes those analytics, he said.  

“Any conversion is risky and Marketo certainly struggled with its latest move to the Orion platform.  One hopes Google’s engineers will provide expertise to make this transition go smoothly,” Raab said. “Chances are this will lower costs as well.  Marketo historically had very high operating expenses.”

But in addition to the back-end benefits for Marketo, IDC marketing and sales technology research director, Gerry Murray, foresaw a potential shake-up of the martech hierarchy long-term. He saw the partnership improving and extending Google’s enterprise marketing technology offering by bringing in the missing engagement platform piece.

“Marketo could become the rallying point to bring Google's enterprise marketing tech together in a cohesive go-to-market package,” he claimed. “That will be a formidable proposition since Google can address just about every layer of the brand/consumer relationship except for the engagement platform.”

With artificial intelligence going into every aspect of Google’s technology platform, including the smartphone operating system, the vast ad network, search, analytics and now an enterprise engagement platform, the potential is there for a serious market share threat, Murray said.

“Google can choose where to make its money and could therefore reset pricing for martech. That's a long way off, as there is an enormous amount of work to port the backend and do all the app level integrations,” he said. “But no other player owns nearly as much of the economic chain between buyers and sellers.

“A lot will of course depend on operational commits and execution on both sides, but it's right up there and possibly beyond those recent deals between Adobe and Microsoft, and Salesforce and IBM.”

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