How Adobe’s $4.75 billion purchase of Marketo may impact B2B marketers

By Chuck Leddy

On September 20, B2C marketing giant Adobe announced the acquisition of B2B marketing automation platform (MAP) Marketo for a whopping sum of $4.75 billion. The deal is expected to fully close in Q4 ‘18. What does the deal mean for both parties and their respective customers, as well as the competitive landscape of B2B marketing automation? This post seeks to answer those questions.

What Adobe and Marketo say

Marketo CEO Steve Lucas explained that “Marketo’s exceptional lead management, account-level data, and multi-channel marketing capabilities will combine with Adobe’s rich behavioral dataset to create the most advanced, unified view of the customer at both an individual and account level.” So it’s an “overall customer experience” deal. On Adobe’s side, Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, Digital Experience, pretty much agrees, saying: “The combination of Marketo’s leading B2B marketing engagement solution with Adobe’s Advertising, Analytics, Commerce and Marketing Clouds, puts Adobe squarely at the heart of all marketing.”

Sojourn’s initial impressions: combining two complementary platforms

We asked Sojourn Solution’s four managing partners to share their impressions of the deal, especially regarding how it might impact technology and the B2B marketers who use Marketo.

Sojourn’s Dan Vawter had a very positive initial impression: “This is going to be awesome,” said Vawter, “we’ve got a great marketing company in Adobe that just bought one of the best B2B marketing platforms in Marketo. Adobe now has platforms for both B2C and B2B marketing organizations.”

Sojourn partner Rebecca Le Grange shared an equally positive perspective: “In terms of technology, it’s a great move for both Marketo and Adobe customers. Marketo has a long track record as a hub of connecting to other technologies and apps. Adobe will be working hard to connect Adobe’s range of products to Marketo, and these platforms look quite complementary. User experience should be enhanced on both sides. Adobe hasn’t had a strong B2B MA platform, and now Marketo fills that gap.”

Adobe won’t break what’s working well

Sojourn partner Emily Bennett notes that Vista Equity Partners, which sold Marketo to Adobe for about three times what they’d originally paid for it back in 2016, has added a lot of value to Marketo in a short span of time. “VEP obviously invested in improving the platform, which increased the value of Marketo significantly over 2 years. I feel Adobe sees the value in the current platform structure and will take into account what customers love about the technology as they consider making changes.” No need to fix what isn’t broken.

Potential synergies of the deal

What will improve as a result of the deal? Sojourn partners described some of the low-hanging fruit where “wins” can happen fairly soon. Sojourn partner Adam Mitrosz expects Marketo to be integrated into the Adobe suite: “I’d expect that Adobe Target and Adobe Analytics could be among the first to integrate. Marketo could also improve its tracking, as Eloqua has already done.” Another area where the deal could have an impact may be Marketo’s recent investment in AI. As Sojourn’s Rebecca Le Grange explains, “Marketo has been moving into artificial intelligence/AI. Now with Adobe’s budgets in R&D, Marketo may have more resources to accelerate that development process.”

Change is opportunity

While nobody has a crystal ball to see into the changes that will be coming as a result of the Adobe/Marketo deal, Emily Bennett has some practical advice for Marketo customers: “There’s a 100% chance that some things are going to change. My advice would be to assign someone to track what’s happening regarding the acquisition so that you and your team can stay updated on announcements that may have an impact on you.”

For Sojourn, which helps B2B marketers find the best solutions through integrating marketing automation technologies, the Adobe/Marketo deal represents a unique opportunity to help its customers navigate change. As managing partner Adam Mitrosz explains it: “we know Marketo and competitors like Eloqua, as well as many of the other marketing platforms. We can therefore help our customers understand which platform would be best for them, advising them based on our actual experiences with the platforms. For partners like us who are platform agnostic, who simply seek the best solution for our customers, the deal presents an opportunity to help.”

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