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With Silverpop Buy, IBM Is Cloud Marketing Contender

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Posted April 10, 2014 By Ann All     Feedback

IBM's acquisition of digital marketing specialist Silverpop puts it in direct competition with Oracle and Salesforce, two giants that have been beefing up their cloud marketing portfolios.

Cloud marketing is one of the hottest software categories around right now, as evidenced by Oracle's string of cloud marketing acquisitions and Salesforce's push for its Salesforce1 platform, not to mention Adobe's ambitious theme of "reinventing marketing."

So it's no surprise that IBM is making a big move to join the cloud marketing party. Like Salesforce (with ExactTarget) and Oracle (with Eloqua) before it, IBM is buying a marketing automation platform. It is paying a rumored $270 million to purchase privately-held Silverpop, a company that just last month rolled out a slew of new digital marketing services.

In another sign that it wants to go all-in on digital marketing, IBM last month announced a $100 million investment to expand its IBM Interactive Experience consulting services. IBM aims to open 10 new IBM Interactive Experience Labs around the world and to add 1,000 employees to the division's existing 5,000. According to Big Blue, the facilities will provide consultation and digital marketing solutions for customers' mobile, social and advertising projects.

As IBM notes in today's announcement of its intent to acquire Silverpop, the popular marketing platform is already used by 8,000 organizations in more than 50 countries around the world, including marquee names such as Mazda, Stonyfield Farm and Advanced Micro Devices.

"The acquisition of Silverpop turbocharges IBM’s ability to put the customer at the center of any organization," said Craig Hayman, GM, Industry Cloud Solutions, IBM, in a statement. "Now, nearly any marketing, commerce or customer service professional from any business will have the ability to deliver the kinds of personalized customer experiences that make a measurable impact on the brand experience and the bottom line."

According to IBM, Silverpop's secret sauce is the ability to scale the kinds of sophisticated automation capabilities that are more commonly used in lower-volume B2B scenarios to more complex B2C (business to consumer) environments. Silverpop's approach involves automating the creation of personalized marketing messages based on real-time customer profiles that draw from permission-based data streams inside and outside the organization — including social, Web, email and mobile activity.

Big Blue says its ecosystem of more than 140 Ready for Smarter Commerce marketing partners will create even more comprehensive views of each customer by integrating data from these additional sources into Silverpop.

IBM expects its acquisition of Silverpop to close in the second quarter, assuming it receives regulatory approval and meets customary closing conditions.

Ann All is the editor of Enterprise Apps Today and eSecurity Planet. She has covered business and technology for more than a decade, writing about everything from business intelligence to virtualization.

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