The three SaaS giants are acquiring marketing technology tools and emerging as competitors of Google, who wishes to lock down the market as it did for adtech.
The line between adtech and martech is becoming blurrier, but it’s not by chance that these two worlds have been moving closer and closer together lately. Au contraire, it proves that companies specialised in SaaS solutions intend to take back some ground from Google.
Let’s review the facts: last November, Salesforce, the worldwide CRM leader in CRM, bought the DMP Krux for $700 million. One month later, Adobe officially announced its purchase of the DSP Tubemogul for $540 million, and launched Adobe Advertising Cloud, a stack for ad campaign management that combines the tools of its classic offer, Media Optimizer, with Tubemogul technology. This trend began as early as 2014, when cloud industry giant Oracle bought the American DMP Bluekai, and then the site personalisation specialist Maxymiser one year later, followed by cross-device ID technology Crosswise in 2016.
“Advertisers are making three different hubs work together that used to operate in silos: media, CRM, and web analytics.”
These large manoeuvers spurred Google into action, and it has also taken advantage of the two worlds coming together to offer a greater variety and depth of services. The advertising giant made a big splash in March 2016 when it launched Google Analytics 360, a marketing suite including a DMP, an A/B testing tool, a reporting tool, a tag manager, as well as attribution and analytics solutions. Lastly, Optimise, a free site personalisation solution and competitor of Maxymiser, can be used in conjunction with these tools.
“We’re seeing a real convergence in strategies from players from different backgrounds, who are becoming competitors through acquisitions,” shares Pierre Harand, Managing Director France at the data marketing specialist fifty-five. If this is true, it is above all a result of a breakdown in boundaries among departments within a company. Harand continues, “Advertisers are making three different hubs work together that used to operate in silos: media, CRM, and web analytics. Many clients thus choose a provider that offers an integrated suite of tools, in the interest of saving time and money.”
The race is on to see who can provide the most comprehensive solution, from analysing site traffic and personalising on-site navigation to CRM activation and media buying, without forgetting data storage and processing. This is why big names in cloud analytics are now batting their eyelids at golden nuggets in martech. According to Vincent Luciani, co-founder of data marketing agency Artefact, “Google, which monopolises the adtech market while recognising its limited ROI, is also looking for growth in the martech market.” It’s enough to bring all these players into the big league, when competing for big data tenders from major advertisers around the world.
Adobe, Oracle and Salesforce are getting more batting time in the big data game
“We’re seeing more and more representatives of Oracle and Adobe,” confirms Thomas Faivre-Duboz, head of Converteo, which supports businesses in their big data strategies. “In France in particular,” Faivre-Duboz notes, “Adobe has a natural tropism since buying Neolane. Krux, too, since being bought by Salesforce, is looking for product managers that speak French.”
Overview of tools provided by the “big four” in martech
These new competitors of Google have one very attractive card in their hand: CRM capabilities. According to Faivre-Duboz, “It makes a real difference for advertisers that want to combine their offline databases with digital data to activate e-mailing, affiliation, or other CRM tactics.” Pierre Harand considers that Salesforce comes out victorious in this little game: “Salesforce has close to 20% of the CRM market, which is huge considering that the market is very fragmented.” It’s all the more advantageous that Google is late to the game.
Google’s late arrival surprises Luciani, who considers that “the challenge of client relationships has become vital for companies. Will Google fill in the gap by using Gmail, for example, which would make a good feed for a multichannel activation platform?” Pierre Harand is not sure: “The CRM market is very mature, and it’s thus an expensive market to enter. Google will likely opt instead for interfacing well with existing tools.”
However, Google still has some impressive players on the bench, such as its stronghold on the online advertising market, of which it owns almost 65% of advertising budgets including SEA and display. Google Analytics 360 is directly linked to its DSP and display network. “An advertiser who creates an audience segment within Google Analytics will find it in its entirety on Google’s DSP,” explains Vincent Luciani. Competitors have difficulty faced with this impressively fluid line-up.
Follow-through sometimes lacking in the “full-stack” play
If the promise of “full-stack” possibilities, made by tech giants through acquisitions, is extremely attractive on paper, there is often a difference between expectation and reality. “We can’t integrate newly-acquired technology in a matter of days,” reminds Thomas Faivre-Duboz. “Krux’s purchase was announced almost five months ago, yet Salesforce is still trying to integrate the DMP solution in its marketing suite,” adds Pierre Harand.
One thing’s for sure: everyone wants to put a unique ID in place for their own ecosystems, to re-target a user who visited a website through emailing or media buying, or to match “real life” clients with cookies. Here again, Google seems to be in another league with its Android IDs and Gmail addresses, but the competition is warming up to get in the game too. “Oracle bought Crosswise with this in mind, and Adobe has also created a unique ID that all its clients could share,” Thomas Faivre-Duboz.
It’s up to advertisers (and companies that advise them) to sort through it all. When asked about the ideal solution, Pierre Harand responds equivocally: “As far as functionality is concerned, all solutions have what it takes. Your choice depends above all on the tools you already use, and on what you want to accomplish.”
This article was originally published by Nicolas Jaimes on March 24th 2017 on the Journal du Net, and translated from the original French by Niamh Cloughley.