The most significant martech deals of 2018 and what they mean for the landscape

Investment in programmatic, cloud services and other capabilities punctuate a year full of mergers and acquisitions.

Chat with MarTechBot

Consolidation is inevitable in a martech landscape that continues to proliferate, and this year was no exception. Let’s take a look at some of the most significant mergers and acquisitions of 2018 and what they mean to the industry.

When available, the terms of the deal are included.

Good news for programmatic advertising. Despite some rocky growing pains, investments in programmatic advertising show that it is here to stay. Mobile advertising platform InMobi kicked off the year by picking up AerServ with a $90 million deal it said made it the “largest programmatic video advertising platform.”

In June, telco AT&T snatched up programmatic ad exchange AppNexus, right after exponentially expanding its content offerings through its acquisition of Time Warner for $86 billion. And also in June, equity firm Vista scooped up a majority stake in Integrated Ad Science (IAS) — best known for programmatic ad verification and optimization — showing that there’s value to tools and services that protect brands’ safety.

Big companies are getting bigger. Major providers of cloud services were keen to add new capabilities and augment services in 2018, giving their B2B customers more options for their own martech stack.

In May, Adobe bought open source developer platform Magneto Commerce for $1.68 billion, in an effort to “make every action shoppable,” Adobe EVP and GM Brad Rencher wrote at the time. “This is the future of commerce – experience-driven commerce.”

And in September, Adobe’s acquired sales software giant Marketo, a move that Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo told us “fundamentally resets the competitive playing field,” bolstering its B2B services to compete against services like Salesforce, Oracle and SAP.

Salesforce was also busy this year, adding to its capabilities and services. The CRM picked up commerce platform CloudCraze in May, replacing Demandware. The company also paid a pretty penny ($6.5 billion) to pick up integration platform Mulesoft, turning it into an Integration Cloud product. Salesforce closed out its year adding Rebel, an interactive email services provider.

Germany’s SAP did take some grief from surprised investors when it seemingly rushed into a decision to buy Qualtrics, a U.S. company that tracks consumer sentiment for $8 billion in December. Investors felt blindsided and were worried that such a significant investment in the cloud side of its business would dilute its software side.

“We would make a big strategic mistake throttling down our cloud growth just to make our mixed margin work,” SAP finance chief Luka Mucic told Reuters, adding that improvements in margins will be incremental.

A higher demand for personalization. Businesses are demanding deeper insights with which to personalize their marketing, and the industry answered. In June, Salesforce purchased Datorama, which uses artificial intelligence to provide marketing intelligence and analytics, in a deal that was estimated to be more than $800 million.

Even ad agencies have gotten in the game. Creative agency J. Walter Thompson merged with Wunderman in November, forming a new, more data-driven agency.

Amazon expands its bid to own the delivery path. Amazon’s acquisition of video doorbell/smart home vendor Ring for $1 billion and smart thermostat maker Ecobee aren’t all that fascinating in and of themselves. But when combined with last year’s purchase of home security vendor Blink, a picture begins to emerge of a company owning every aspect of the customer journey — right down to what happens as an item is being delivered.

The move could mean that the increasing number of advertisers on Amazon will gain more access to potential consumer touchpoints.

A new year lies ahead. It’s impossible to know for sure what will happen in 2019, but since a good number of martech companies will be maturing out of their venture-funded stage, HubSpot VP Scott Brinker, who produces the martech landscape graphic every year, says he expects to see a lot of acquisitions in the coming year.

“And so we’ve run that four- to five-year course where companies got VC money, they’ve given us the best shot they have and they either need to stand on their own as profitable ventures, or there’s going to be incredible pressure from investors to sell,” Brinker said. “And in some cases sell at a very low price.”

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

Robin Kurzer
Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.