IBM Snaps Up Unica for Marketing Analytics

Christopher Saunders

Updated · Aug 13, 2010

IBM today said it plans to buy Unica (NASDAQ: UNCA), a provider of interactive marketing analytics, in a move that aims to beef up IBM's own business intelligence, CRM and analytics portfolio.

The deal values each share of Unica at $21, bringing the total cost of the deal to $480 million, minus Unica's cash on hand. Subject to Unica shareholder and regulatory approval, the purchase is set to close in fourth quarter.

Once it does, IBM (NYSE: IBM) will gain a new tool to enable marketers to analyze and automatically optimize their marketing campaigns for greater returns. Unica's technology — available in both enterprise software and on-demand editions — enables marketers to tap into data from Web analytics, customer buying trends and marketing campaigns to refine, personalize and better target their messaging to customers.

According to the companies, Unica also brings more than 1,500 customers, including Best Buy, eBay, ING, Monster, Starwood and U.S. Cellular.

For IBM, the purchase continues its protracted — and expensive — efforts to expand its trade in automation tools and software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings for marketers. So far, the buying spree to beef up its Business Analytics and Optimization Consulting organization has lasted five years and involved more than $11 billion in acquisitions.

In May, IBM purchased AT&T's Sterling Commerce for $1.4 billion, giving it not just a major provider of business-to-business integration software, but new capabilities to deliver an end-to-end commerce enablement and business insight platform.

A month later, IBM shelled out an undisclosed amount for Coremetrics, a player in Web analytics.

And last year, IBM bought business analytics vendor SPSS, a specialist in what it calls predictive analytics — useful for helping companies understand and better target potential customers. In May, Big Blue updated its SPSS Modeler predictive analytics software to better integrate social media like Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, blogs and wikis.

“IBM understands the demands on today's organizations to transform core business processes in functions such as marketing with intelligence and automation,” Craig Hayman, general manager for IBM Industry Solutions, said in a statement. “Unica was a clear choice for IBM based on its power to automate a broad set of marketing capabilities and its established reputation for delivering customer success in marketing to organizations around the world.”

The companies said Unica's 500 employees will be integrated into IBM's Software Solutions Group.

Christopher Saunders is senior managing editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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