IBM Adds Silverpop to Its Collection of Service Marketing Acquisitions

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International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBMannounced Thursday that it is buying the Atlanta-based marketing automation software provider Silverpop for an undisclosed sum.

The move, AdAge reports, is part of a larger trend among IT manufacturers to buy service marketers. In the past few years, Adobe, Salesforce.com,  and Oracle have all made similar purchases. And this isn’t the first time IBM has invested in a marketing software company — the tech giant also recently acquired Unica and DemandTech, as well.

IBM’s vice president of enterprise, Kevin Bishop, said that the company hopes that Silverpop and its other marketing automation offerings will eventually be integrated into a SaaS (Software as a Service) suite, according to Gigaom. Bishop added that the company may have more to say regarding the potential suite in May.

“The acquisition of Silverpop turbocharges IBM’s ability to put the customer at the center of any organization,” said Craig Heyman, general manager of Industry Cloud Solutions, in a press release. “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.”

“By engineering a solution that uniquely delivers personalization through automation, our team has solved one of the most complex challenges facing marketers today,” said Bill Nussey, CEO of Silverpop. “Combined with the power of IBM’s portfolio and worldwide partner ecosystem we can advance our mission to help organizations build customer relationships one at a time at an even grander scale.”

And while Silverpop’s CEO expressed the obligatory optimism in IBM’s press release, Nussey has previously voiced doubts about whether marketing automation businesses actually benefit from arrangements like the one the company is now embroiled in with IBM.

“Marketers are going to want to focus their purchases on companies who live, eat and breathe marketing. And not sales automation and not programming platforms and giant database platforms. They are going to want to buy from someone who does just marketing,” Nussey told AdAge in March, less than a month before the company agreed to be acquired by IBM.

Joining big companies, Nussey went on to say, can sometimes cause unanticipated operational problems; “some of our competitors are famously not connected after the acquisitions because they have so much work to do to tie them together.”

But the Silverpop CEO seems to believe that the new arrangement with IBM is different, and will help to accelerate Silverpop’s vision. “Their footprint in marketing, dedicated focus in marketing, is larger than most other companies that focus on just marketing,” Nussey said in an interview with AdAge. “They have a massive footprint and so it feels like a pure play to me, but I acknowledge that they are a larger company.”

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