CMO's 2019 round-up of mega adtech and martech buys

A round-up of the biggest adtech and martech acquisitions over the last 12 months

It's been yet another year of significant mergers and acquisitions in the marketing, advertising and customer technology sphere.

From Adobe's multi-billion dollar acquisition of the industry's best-of-breed marketing automation darling, to SAP's Qualtrics customer and employee experience management buy, Salesforce's whopping data visualisation investment and a bunch of private equity deals, the consolidation of the martech lumascape is showing no signs of abating - even as new entrants continue to creep into the ecosystem.

Here, CMO rounds-up what we saw to be some the biggest deals of the past 12 months.

Adobe buys Marketo (2018)

A little over 12 months ago, Adobe completed its acquisition of Marketo, paying US$4.75 billion to purchase the lead management and B2B account-based marketing tech outfit.

The deal saw Marketo become part of the Adobe Experience Cloud, providing a strong B2B marketing automation platform to join the enterprise martech stack.

The hefty price tag made the acquisition one of the largest to occur across the marketing technology landscape, rounding out Adobe’s analytics, content, personalisation, advertising and commerce capabilities of its own customer technology cloud

Read more about the Marketo acquisition.

SAP buys Qualtrics (2018)

The price point record didn't last long. By the end of 2018, German enterprise software giant, SAP, had bought experience management vendor, Qualtrics, for US$8 billion. The deal came just as the software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform was preparing for an initial public offering.

The purchase also came just months after SAP rebranded its Hybris business under C/4Hana, a portfolio that incorporates marketing, ecommerce, service and customer data cloud platforms. Both the rebranding and the Qualtrics deal were part of efforts to reflect the vendor’s focus on delivering a comprehensive end-to-end customer journey management ecosystem of products.

Read more about the Qualtrics acquisition.

Salesforce buys Tableau (2019)

Another whopper of an acquisition at the enterprise software end of town was Salesforce's purchase of Tableau.

The cloud CRM vendor took a huge leap forward in the data visualisation and analytics space, picking up Tableau for an unprecedented US$15.7 billion. The all-stock acquisition was confirmed on 10 June and already had the approval of shareholders.

At the time, the deal was described as a way for Salesforce customers to unlock greater value from their data, as well as drive the vendor a further step forward in what IDC identifies as the US$1.8 trillion digital transformation space.

Read more about the Tableau acquisition.

The deal came after Salesforce had made another acquisition to step up its Marketing Cloud data analytics capabilities.

The company in July 2018 purchased AI-powered data analytics player, Datorama, in a deal estimated to be worth upwards of US$800 million. The deal enhanced Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud offering with expanded data integration, intelligence and analytics, further enabling platform users to better access data insights from across the marketing and customer technology systems.

Read more about the Datorama acquisition.

Google buys Looker (2019)

Also lifting its data analytics game in 2019 was Google, which acquired business intelligence, data applications and embedded analytics business, Looker, in a deal worth US$2.6 billion.

Looker joined Google Cloud bringing a more comprehensive analytics solution, including ingesting and integrating data, embedded analytics and visualisations, to enable enterprises to tap analytics, machine learning and AI.

Read more about Looker and its CMO.

IBM sells off martech assets, creates Acoustic (2019)

Elsewhere, IBM was looking to offload its marketing and commerce cloud offerings in order to give them stronger commercial focus.

In April, big blue signed definitive agreement with Centerbridge Partners to acquire IBM’s marketing platform and commerce software offerings, along with the leadership team and employees. Upon closure of the deal, the technology platforms and employee base would be transformed into a new entity with a fresh identity.

The subsequent rebadging was announced in August. Acoustic was positioned as an independent enterprise marketing cloud player with several key offerings: The Acoustic Marketing Cloud, incorporating Acoustic Campaign; Experience Analytics (formerly Tealeaf); Content (formerly Content Hub); Personalisation (formerly Real-Time Personalisation); Journey Analytics; Digital Analytics; and Exchange (formerly Universal Behaviour Exchange).

Read more about the IBM / Acoustic changes.

Vista private equity buys Acquia (2019)

A more recent private equity buy was digital experience management vendor, Acquia.

The company was picked up by Vista Equity Partners in December in a deal valued at US$1 billion. It came hot on the heels of Acquia’s recent acquisitions of Mautic and Cohesion and was described as another step forward in its efforts to build a holistic digital experience platform (DXP) space. The acquisition gives the martech player access to more resources, R&D funding and capabilities to scale.

Read more about the Acquia acquisition.

Publicis Groupe acquires Epsilon (2019)

It wasn't just private equity firms on the martech and adtech scent. One of the world's largest holding companies, Publicis Groupe, acquired Epsilon in a US$4.4 billion deal in 2019, giving the marketing and communications agency giant access to the first-party customer data technology and proprietary platform. 

Epsilon provides marketing technology as well as data services for customer interaction management, and the deal is aimed at accelerating Publicis’ efforts to provide transformation services to marketers. Around since 1969, the company has 9000 staff across 70 offices worldwide and chalked up US$1.9 billion in net revenue in 2018, 97 per cent of which was in the US.

The business was acquired by Alliance Data Systems for US$300 million back in 2004. Since then, and like many in the martech sphere, Epsilon has bulked up by purchasing several complementary organisations including performance marketing player, Hyper Marketing (2012) for US$460 million, Aspen Marketing Services (2011) and Abacus (2006) for $435 million.

Read more about the Epsilon acquisition.

Zeta buys Sizmek, IgnitionOne, Temnos (2019)

Adtech was also in the M&A spotlight as instability across the sector materialised.

Zeta Group was confirmed as Sizmek’s DMP and DSP acquirer in April this year after the adtech filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The CRM vendor paid about US$36 million for the embattled adtech vendor. The deal came less than three years after Sizmek was purchased by private equity firm, Vector Capital, for US$122 million.

In September, Zeta signed a deal to take over the DSP assets of IgnitionOne. IgnitionOne has since sold off its assets and closed down.

Read more about the Sizmek sell-off.

Earlier in the year, Zeta Global acquired Silicon Valley artificial intelligence (AI) company, Temnos, which created a proprietary semantic technology to analyse language and detect patterns for online publishers on the open Web.

Roku buys Dataxu (2019)

Another notable adtech deal in 2019 was by streaming outfit, Roku, which spent US$150 million to acquire dataxu, a demand side platform (DSP) enabling marketers to plan and buy video ad campaigns.

dataxu provides marketers with an automated bidding and self-serve software solution to manage ad campaigns programmatically across digital platforms. Dataxu utilises advanced TV and OTT media planning tools, a proprietary device graph, and data science to help marketers optimize for business outcomes across TV, OTT, desktop and mobile.

Read more about the dataxu acquisition.

SugarCRM buys Salesfusion (2019)

SugarCRM, a customer management vendor backed by private equity firm, Accel-KKR, was another on the acquisition trail this year, and acquired SaaS marketing automation innovator, Salesfusion, in May.

The purchased followed SugarCRM’s acquisition of Collabspot’s email integration products to enhance its email integration capabilities and take another step towards Sugar’s vision to deliver the most intuitive and collaborative user experience while eliminating data entry.

Qlik buys Attunity (2019)

On the data management front, Qlik acquired Attunity in February, expanding its enterprise data management and enabling real-time analytics. The deal was worth about US$560 million.

Building on Qlik’s acquisition of Podium Data and the introduction of Qlik Data Catalyst, Attunity provided cross-platform data streaming capabilities to support a shift to cloud and real-time analytics. The acquisition was described by Qlik as a way to further differentiate by providing an expanded breadth of enterprise data management capabilities, while adding an experienced team of data professionals to its team.

Dun & Bradstreet buys Lattice Engines (2019)

In a sign of the rising interest and proliferation of customer data platforms (CDPs), Dun & Bradstreet joined the acquisition throng this year to acquire Lattice Engines.

The AI-powered CDP enables B2B organisations to scale their account-based marketing and sales programs across every channel. The transaction helps Dun & Bradstreet to offer integrated data and analytics solutions for sales and marketing professionals. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Read more about the Lattice acquisition.

Mastercard buys SessionM (2019)

Brands were also among the companies snapping up martech and adtech capability in 2019. One high-profile example was Mastercard's acquisition of SessionM, a customer engagement and loyalty platform.

SessionM's offering enables retailers, airlines, restaurants and CPG companies to enhance profitable consumer relationships. Mastetcard said the addition of SessionM would help its brands deliver personalised, real-time offers and campaign measurement using data-driven insights.

In its statement, Mastercard noted it had made a number of investments to advance its data-driven services for retailers and other brands over recent years. Another example was its acquisition of Applied Predictive Technologies, a test-and-learn analytics tool.

McDonalds acquires Dynamic Yield (2019)

McDonald’s was another brand buying up adtech, and snapped up Dynamic Yield, a personalisation technology company for more than US$300 million.

The deal was positioned as enabling McDonalds to provide a personalised customer experience by varying outdoor digital Drive Thru menu displays to show food based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. 

Read more on the Dynamic Yield acquisition.

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