Buying Parity: Thoughts on Marketo’s Acquisition of Crowd Factory

by contributor on April 18, 2012 in Social Media

Despite what the press releases would have you believe, “social marketing automation” wasn’t born today. Virtually every company in the marketing automation space – from SMB players like HubSpot and Pardot to B2C specialists like Neolane to up-market companies like Eloqua – offers a viable social media component to their demand generation system.

What happened today happens in every industry when the development gap widens: the trailing company buys functionality similar to what its competitors have built.

Not that it isn’t a meaningful day for marketing automation; it is. Today the final holdout slid its chips to the center of the table. Now everyone is betting on the nexus of demand generation and social media.

It also gives marketers options. For marketers whose social strategy centers on incentivized sharing – like sweepstakes and contests – the eventual Crowd Factory / Marketo offering could make sense. Companies that prefer a more organic model (create great content, facilitate sharing) may prefer Eloqua Social Suite. Choice is good for the buyer, and this acquisition creates choice.

In the end, this deal could be as much about PR as it is about delivering value. Marketing automation is a fiercely competitive space, filled with several high-performance marketing teams. We all wrestle for attention. There’s a golden formula in tech PR: Buy a social media company, lace the news with grandeur, get pub.

Social marketing automation didn’t start today. Contrary to warnings, in most companies social and demand are not ships passing in the night. Today something simple and timeless happened: one company bought another to close the gap with its competition. And that’s been around longer than marketing itself.

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