It’s all happening in the social marketing sector as Salesforce.com follows up Oracle’s purchase of Vitrue with a $689 million takeover of Buddy Media.
Buddy Media, started in 2007, works with customers to build campaigns on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, providing a platform for advertisers to publish content and monitor their social media efforts.
“Social media has caused the biggest transformation in marketing since the ‘Mad Men’ era, causing” chief marketing officers “to completely rethink their strategies,” Marcel LeBrun, a senior vice president of Salesforce Radian6. “By bringing together market leaders Radian6 and Buddy Media, we are doubling down on the Salesforce marketing cloud to provide CMOs with the ability to manage the entire social marketing life cycle.”
Unconfirmed rumours from the US suggest that Salesforce.com won a bidding war with Google to snap up the firm, although amusingly Oracle CEO Larry Ellison chipped in last week to suggest that Oracle had looked at Buddy Media before deciding to proceed with its Vitrue bid.
The deal adds further weight in Salesforce.com's push towards a full Marketing Cloud offering. "Salesforce.com now has the number one players in social listening and marketing – Radian6 and Buddy Media," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, Salesforce.com. "With CMOs surpassing CIOs in spend on technology within the next five years, our Marketing Cloud leadership will allow us to capitalize on this massive opportunity."
Opportunity there is indeed. Carter Lusher, Ovum’s Research Fellow & Chief Analyst, comments: “Salesforce’s acquisition of Buddy Media builds on its acquisition of Radian6 and follows hot on the heels of Oracle’s acquisition of Vitrue and Adobe’s acquisition of Efficient Frontier as all three mega vendors race to deliver on the promise of “Social CRM in the Cloud” and integrate effective social marketing and social data into management of the entire customer lifecycle.”
Lusher thinks a deal makes perfect sense. “Buddy Media is a category killer,” he explains. “It has a strong customer roster including L’Oreal, Mattel and Virgin Mobile in the US and it has built a strong sales pipeline directly into the digital marketing ecosystem. Buddy Media strengthens Salesforce's message on the "Social Enterprise Architecture" and adds powerful functionality to the underlying platform. There is some overlap in functionality with Radian6's social media monitoring, but that should be managed relatively easily.
“Media acquisition is very consistent with Salesforce's overall M&A strategy and past acquisitions like Radian6. There is somewhat more overlap with existing Salesforce functionality (e.g., Radian6) but in general the functionality is complementary. However given the volume of M&A in this market, potentially there is also a defensive element to this acquisition and Salesforce was head to head with another potential buyer.”
It’s all indicative of a febrile social marketing sector, reckons Angela Eager of TechMarketView. “The social media marketing subsector is a hot bed of activity at the moment, with the level of activity underlining just how seriously software suppliers are taking the business use of social media – and how much they are prepared to pay to gain a slice of the market,” she notes.
“Like Vitrue, Buddy Media’s social marketing platform allows businesses to manage their presence, and run and analyse marketing campaigns and on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. It would certainly complement Salesforce.com’s existing social message and products. The social aspect overlays virtually everything Salesforce.com is doing at the moment as it builds around the concept of the social enterprise.”
All roads lead back to the changing nature of the CRM market. “The wider picture is that of the evolution of plain old CRM into social CRM and the need by businesses to be able to quantify the value of their presence on social sites,” says Eager. “By hooking social media channel activities into mainstream CRM processes, sales and service, businesses can start to monetise social media channels.
“Ultimately, it’s about customer management, leads and revenue - that is what is driving the flurry of activity in social media marketing tools. SAP and Microsoft cannot afford to fall behind so we would not be surprised to hear of social media marketing activity before too long especially as it is not just the mainstream CRM players who are engaged.”