Teradata Buys Aprimo for $525 Million: More Marketing Automation Consolidation To Come


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Summary: Teradata’s acquisition of Aprimo takes the largest remaining independent marketing automation vendor off the market. The market will probably split between enterprise-wide suites and more limited marketing automation systems.

Teradata announced today that is acquiring marketing automation vendor Aprimo for a very hefty $525 million – even more than the $480 million that IBM paid for somewhat larger Unica in August.

Given the previous Unica deal. other recent marketing system acquisitions, and wide knowledge that Aprimo was eager to sell, no one is particularly surprised by this transaction. Teradata is a logical buyer, having a complementary campaign management system but lacking Aprimo’s marketing resource management, cloud-based technology and strong B2B client base (although Aprimo has stressed to me more than once that 60% of their revenue is from B2C clients).

This is obviously a huge decision for Teradata, a $1.7 billion company compared with IBM’s $100 billion in revenue. It stakes a claim to a piece of the emerging market for enterprise-wide marketing systems, the same turf targeted in recent deals by IBM, Oracle, Adobe and Infor (and SAS and SAP although they haven’t made major acquisitions).

This enterprise market is probably going to evolve into something distinct from traditional “marketing automation”. The difference: marketing automation is focused on batch and interactive campaign management but just touches slightly on advertising, marketing resource management and analytics. The enterprise market involves unified systems sold at the CEO, CFO, CIO and CMO levels, whereas marketing automation has been sold largely to email and Web marketers within marketing departments.

The existence of C-level buyers for marketing systems is not yet proven, and I remain a bit of a skeptic. But many smart people are betting a lot of money that it will appear, and will spend more money to make it happen. Aprimo is probably the vendor best positioned to benefit because its MRM systems inherently work across an entire marketing department (although I’m sure many Aprimo deployments are more limited). So, in that sense at least, Teradata has positioned itself particularly well to take advantage of the new trend. And if IBM and Oracle want to invest in developing that market so that Teradata can benefit, so much the better for Teradata.

That said, there’s still some question whether Teradata can really benefit if this market takes off. Aprimo adds a great deal of capability, but the combined company still lacks the strong Web analytics and BI applications of its main competitors. A closer alliance with SAS might fill that gap nicely…and acquisition or merger between the two firms is perfectly conceivable, at least superficially. Lack of professional services is perhaps less an issue since it makes Teradata a more attractive partner to the large consulting firms (Accenture, CapGemini, etc.) who already use its tools and must be increasingly nervous about competition from IBM’s services group.

The other group closely watching these deals are the remaining marketing automation vendors themselves. Many would no doubt be delighted to sell at such prices. But, as Eloqua‘s Joe Payne points out in his own comment on the Aprimo deal, the remaining vendors are all much smaller: while Unica and Aprimo each had around $100 million revenue, Eloqua and Alterian are around $50 million, Neolane and SmartFocus are around $20 million, and Marketo said recently it expects around $15 million in 2010. I doubt any of the others reach $10 million. (This excludes email companies like ExactTarget, Responsys and Silverpop [which does have a marketing automation component].) Moreoever, the existing firms skew heavily to B2B clients and smaller companies, which are not the primary clients targeted by big enterprise systems vendors.

That said, I do expect continued acquisitions within this space. I’d be surprised to see the 4-5x revenue price levels of the Unica and Aprimo deals, but even lower valuations would be attractive to owners and investors facing increasingly cut-throat competition. As I’ve written many times before, the long-term trend will be for larger CRM and Web marketing suites to incorporate marketing automation functions, making stand-alone marketing automation less competitive. Survivors will offer features for particular industries or specialized functions that justify purchase outside of the corporate standard. And the real money will be made by service vendors who can help marketers fully benefit from these systems.

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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