DoubleClick Acquires SmartPath
DoubleClick today made public its intention to acquire SmartPath, which will flesh out its marketing automation platform to include operations capabilities. The acquisition would further what analysts say is a trend toward melding the marketing automation side with the marketing operations side.
DoubleClick's marketing automation solutions provide tools for direct marketers and Web publishers to plan, execute, and analyze marketing programs to be more efficient and effective. SmartPath's marketing resource management (MRM) solutions enable marketers to optimize information management, operations, and team communication efforts.
"[Traditional] marketing has no operational technology--most of it is done using ad hoc processes, such as spread sheets," says Mike Doernberg, CEO of SmartPath. "SmartPath brings its customers the dashboard to manage marketing operations. DoubleClick enables customers to analyze the data to make it more effective and efficient."
SmartPath helps organizations build the framework that supports how messages get developed and integrated with other marketing messages. This helps marketers with the operational aspects of marketing, including strategic planning, project management, workflow, document management, and marketing financial management. MRM provides a common operating platform for marketers to plan and develop campaigns and budgets across all marketing channels. So for example, customer data can be applied to different channels, such as the Web, direct mail, email, set-top boxes, and television broadcasts, to specific households, all with a consistent look and feel.
DoubleClick plans to sell SmartPath's MMS solution through its existing European direct-and-indirect partner channels and through DoubleClick's global sales force, both as a standalone product and within DoubleClick's Ensemble 7.0, scheduled for European release in Q3 2004. DoubleClick plans to continue to base its MRM capabilities in North Carolina, and expects to increase that site's personnel within the next year.
"Aprimo was the leader, starting in marketing operations and then included marketing automation. Unica came from automation to include operations. So it's not a surprise SmartPath got acquired," says Ian Jacobs, principal CRM analyst at Current Analysis. "SmartPath is one of the only marketing outsource-management vendors with a suite, trying to cover various fields of operations, including digital traffic management and product and marketing branding. The other players are stronger in one or two of those, but SmartPath is strong in all of them."
"At some point the CRM suite guys will be looking at this space," Jacobs predicts. "The revenue generated from MRM and the size of companies and the level of importance to those companies are still too small. But they will get there eventually."
Financial terms of the all-cash deal were not disclosed. The acquisition of SmartPath, a privately held company with 37 employees, is expected to close within the next several weeks subject to closing conditions.