New brand, entity and leadership team for IBM Marketing Cloud unveiled

Acoustic is the new name for IBM's marketing and commerce cloud offerings

Sample of the new brand visuals for Acoustic
Sample of the new brand visuals for Acoustic

The new owner of IBM’s Marketing Cloud and commerce product portfolio has taken the wrappers off a fresh brand name, portfolio and leadership team, all designed to emphasise its focus on marketers.

Acoustic officially debuted this week, positioning itself as an independent enterprise marketing cloud player built off the back of IBM’s acquired and home-grown marketing and commerce solutions. The company is the result of Centerbridge Partners’ acquisition of the IBM assets and business team in April. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.  

Acoustic’s flagship offering is the Acoustic Marketing Cloud, and incorporates Acoustic Campaign (formerly Campaign Automation, which in turn had its foundations in Silverpop and IBM Watson Marketing); Experience Analytics (formerly Tealeaf); Content (formerly Content Hub); Personalisation (formerly Real-Time Personalisation); Journey Analytics; Digital Analytics; and Exchange (formerly Universal Behaviour Exchange). The company also offers Lifecycle Pricing and Lifecycle Promotion tools, formerly DemandTec, as well as Acoustic payments (formerly Payments Gateway).

Acoustic, which is based in New York, also confirmed former IBM VP of offering management and strategy for IBM Marketing Platform, Mark Simpson, as its CEO. Several other IBM executives have also switched across to the new entity.  

In a statement, the company said the Acoustic name was a reflection of its commitment to listening, understanding and solving the marketer’s modern challenges around data and customer experience.  It also stressed the importance of an open technology approach, and said the new suite of offerings was designed to integrate with tools already used by marketers to connect data across their own ecosystems.

“Acoustic is filling a major void in the industry as a true platform that’s entirely devoted to the marketer,” Simpson said. “As an independent company, our goal is to bring back a personal approach to the art of marketing by investing in products that work together across the entire marketing ecosystem to help enhance creativity and truly move people.”

The Acoustic product approach arguably takes its cues from already well-established dominant enterprise martech offerings from Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle. And the company kicks off life with an international client base of more than 3500 brands including Fortune 500 companies.

However, while IBM and Centerbridge have said they will continue to work together around cloud and artificial intelligence (AI), how these will be harnessed by the new Acoustics business remains a work in progress. What's more, martech vendors are increasingly repositioning as customer experience platforms, integrating an even broader array of service, support and digital technologies into their stacks as a result.

In advance of the Centerbridge sale, IBM also offloaded several of its other on-premise marketing and commerce software to HCL in a deal worth US$1.8 billion. That list included marketing automation platform, Unica; email apps platforms, Notes and Dominos; workstream collaboration tool, Connections; digital experience offering, Portal; ecommerce suite, Commerce; app development suite, Appscan; and secure device management software, BigFix.

Acoustic is not the first instance of a growing pool of marketing and commerce solutions coming together under one enterprise software vendor, only to then be spun out as an independent entity under private equity ownership.

Another example is Teradata’s decision to sell-off its acquired and patched together martech suite in 2016 to Marlin Equity partners, a move resulting in two standalone businesses: Aprimo and Mapp Digital.

Similarly, SDL’s divestiture of its acquired campaign and real-time interaction management businesses saw the debut of martech player, Alterian, a fresh company but wearing the brand badge of SDL’s original acquisition five years earlier.

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