Adobe to Acquire Neolane for $600 Million

Adobe Systems late yesterday entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Neolane, a provider of cross-channel campaign management technology, for $600 million. The French company's products will be rolled into Adobe's Marketing Cloud.

Neolane integrates online and offline marketing data, segmenting audiences and delivering marketing messages across channels. It offers a platform for the automation and execution of campaigns across the Web, email, social, mobile, call center, direct mail, and point of sale. Other products include social marketing, email marketing, mobile and multichannel marketing, sales lead management, marketing resource management, and marketing analytics, available via software-as-a-service or on-premises deployments.

Neolane will become the sixth solution in the Adobe Marketing Cloud, complementing the existing Analytics, Target, Social, Experience Manager, and Media Optimizer offerings. The Neolane acquisition complements other strategic digital marketing acquisitions by Adobe, beginning with Omniture in 2009 and followed by Day Software in 2010, Demdex and Auditude in 2011, and Efficient Frontier in 2012.

"The acquisition of Neolane brings critical cross-channel campaign management capabilities to the Adobe Marketing Cloud," said Brad Rencher, senior vice president and general manager of Adobe's Digital Marketing business, in as statement. "Adobe has long been the trusted partner to creative professionals, and we are now extending our lead in the digital marketing space with the addition of Neolane. From campaign creation through planning, execution, and optimization, Adobe technology is driving the entire marketing process."

"Neolane has more than 400 customers worldwide, many of whom are Adobe customers as well," said Stéphane Dehoche, CEO and co-founder of Neolane, who will continue to lead the Neolane team as part of Adobe's Digital Marketing team. "Combining our capabilities into Adobe Marketing Cloud will open up a level of visibility that makes these marketers' day-to-day work easier and more effective. Adobe has an incredible vision for the future of marketing along with a connection to the creative process that no other company can match. We're ready to help take their market leadership to the next level."

Suresh Vittal, the chief product officer at Neolane, is equally enthusiastic about the acquisition. "Neolane...will continue to deliver the capabilities that we're so proud of. We will continue to fulfill the vision behind Neolane, which is creating the unique ability to deliver rich cross channel campaign management for marketers," he tells CRM. "Adobe is a leader in digital marketing, and this is a great opportunity for us."

Analysts also see the move as a big game-changer for Adobe and the larger marketing automation industry.

Gerry Brown, a senior analyst at Ovum, says the acquisition "has been a long time coming for Adobe. Its lack of a campaign management platform has been a glaring hole in its digital marketing platform proposition."

The deal, Brown said in an email, "has the potential to propel Adobe into the market leadership with both its existing digital (Web site-centric) offer, plus Neolane's enterprise campaign management offer. These are the two driving forces of strategic enterprise purchasing of digital marketing platforms today, and so puts Adobe in a strong market position.”

Ray Wang, CEO and principal analyst at Constellation Research, agrees. "The consumer master data record was one of the major benefits of the Neolane platform. Combining anonymous and known data will connect the dots between customer data, activity in channel, and behavior, which is where the Adobe Marketing Cloud’s sweet spot lays," he says.

"The fact that Neolane also operates from a single, unified code base has obvious integration appeal from Adobe’s point of view," Wang adds. "This should allow a more rapid integration of the Neolane functionality into the Adobe platform."

Brent Leary, a partner at CRM Essentials, says, "The Marketing Cloud arms race just went into overdrive with this acquisition."  

Adobe, he adds, "had assembled a marketing cloud built to bring marketing creatives and marketing analysts closer together to improve the customer experiences, mostly for B2C organizations.  Now with the purchase of Neolane, they add traditional automation and workflow capabilities [that] B2B marketing organizations need to move leads to sales teams to close deals.  In many ways Adobe now has the pieces to assemble the most comprehensive marketing cloud solution on the market."

Several analysts see the Neolane acquisition as being influenced by Salesforce.com's recent acquisition of ExactTarget for $2.5 billion and Oracle's acquisition of Eloqua for $871 million in December. Both of those acquired companies were rumored to be acquisition targets for Adobe as well. "Adobe was likely compelled to act before all the campaign management best-of-breed vendor acquisition options evaporated," Ovum's Brown says.

The acquisition provides one other significant benefit to Adobe, allowing it to better compete with Salesforce.com, Oracle, IBM, SAS, and Teradata, analysts suggest.

Wang also expects Neolane's strong client base to provide Adobe with a stronger route to foreign markets, particularly in Europe.

The acquisition will also greatly improve Adobe's positionin retail, Brown adds, noting that Neolane’s largest markets are retail, leisure and tourism, and the media industry.

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