DoubleClick Finalizes Its SmartPath Acquisition

DoubleClick, still best known for its context-sensitive Web-banner advertising network, has taken another step to expand beyond its online origins by acquiring privately held SmartPath, a developer of marketing resource management (MRM) software. Six-year-old SmartPath boasts such clients as Wyeth and Habitat for Humanity. A relatively new discipline, MRM focuses on managing and optimizing the operational aspects of a marketing organization, including budget planning and staff allocation. MRM aims to cut down on inefficient, redundant operations in a business function that has long been considered difficult to hold to conventional measures of performance and ROI. The purchase furthers DoubleClick's strategy of moving beyond the devalued concept of Web eyeballs and clickstream analysis. SmartPath bolsters a growing portfolio of marketing services, including traditional marketing research data and the Ensemble marketing automation suite, originally acquired in 2002 when DoubleClick bought Protagona. "What DoubleClick wants is to become a one-stop shop for marketers, helping marketers integrate both the direct marketing processes as well as managing the other channels of advertising," says Elana Anderson, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. Anderson puts the nascent MRM market at no larger than $50 million in annual revenues at present. "I don't see the acquisition of SmartPath as adding a huge new revenue stream," she says. "MRM is very much an emerging arena, a fragmented space, and the competition is anything from SAP and Siebel to homegrown systems." She considers Aprimo the most potent independent MRM provider challenging the DoubleClick/SmartPath combination. "I'm very interested in DoubleClick's strategy as a one-stop marketing shop, but I am also concerned that DoubleClick is putting a lot of attention in a lot of different places, which requires some focus," Anderson says. DoubleClick has announced plans to integrate SmartPath with its Ensemble system by midyear, as well as to continue offering SmartPath as a stand-alone product.
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