“In the last few years, we’ve really expanded the digital media side of our analytics business, and Pointmarc was really good at site and channel-based optimization,” Shen said. “From Merkle’s perspective, it will bring a lot of competitive advantage to how we compete in the marketplace. Ten years ago, we competed with Acxiom and Epsilon, and our goal is to build the next-generation analytics organization.”
Both traditional and digital marketing analytics are in high demand. Google and AOL respectively acquired Adometry and Convertro last year, and marketing analytics shop MarketShare last week bought DataSong, a startup focused on retail marketing analytics and campaign execution.
Pointmarc was a big Adobe Marketing Cloud services shop, a factor that bodes well for Merkle, which works with many enterprise clients to provide a service layer for Adobe integrations (think Adobe Target for site testing and optimization, Adobe AudienceManager for segmentation and targeting and Adobe Analytics for web analytics).
But Shen said Merkle is seeing RFPs across the board, ranging from large marketing clouds down to point solutions providers, like tag managers and other data services shops.
"Another big category is attribution and measurement, so there are a lot of new types of integrations,” Shen said. “In the past, major advertisers did more of a top-down optimization and the direct marketing side did a lot of the offline, direct mail campaigns, which was very easy to measure.”
Not so anymore, since the two sides are combining. Shen said one major financial services company conducted 70% of its business offline, but used a digital attribution tool that rendered its results inaccurate.
Shen said the blurring of the lines between agencies, enterprise marketing companies and systems integrators, should serve both traditional and advanced analytics needs.
“IBM and Accenture, the systems integrators, are getting into the marketing side when buying tech has historically been the CIO’s responsibility,” Shen said. Whereas, the “agency side is moving down the funnel [from paid advertising and branding] and getting into marketing analytics and technology. There is a broad convergence among all the players.”