The deal follows IBM’s introduction last month of its Digital Marketing Network, a 100-member roster of DMPs, DSPs and search marketing providers that have connected their platforms with IBM. The names are familiar and include the likes of Turn, Criteo, BlueKai, DoubleClick Search, x+1, Marin Software and others. The creation of the network, in addition to the obvious marketing attention from such a partnership, also highlighted IBM's recent acquisitions and new marketing offerings it has rolled out over the past few years, such as marketing tools from Unica and Coremetrics and commerce-focused units like Tealeaf and DemandTec.
Now that all that is in place, all that's left is to fill in narrow gaps. As Henderson described it, Xtify is that bridge between the commerce side and the advertising/marketing area.
In a sense, Xtify provides basic blocking and tackling services for mobile, such as being able to identify the kind of smartphone a user has and making sure the graphics of a message fit that make and model. Second, Henderson said it also links seamlessly to basic items on smartphones such as Apple's Passbook app or Google Wallet.
But it's the data from that activity that could prove the most important for IBM's wider enterprise marketing ambitions.
"Data is a big part of where the value comes from," Henderson said. "One of the values that Xtify provides is giving marketers information on what types of messages their consumers are responding to and help them deliver a more relevant message and overall better customer experience. We're trying to bring together that kind of information from mobile and other channels, so this acquisition is going to fit into a wide range of cross-platform capabilities, including email, direct mail and social media."
As IBM tries to break up the silos around the variety of marketing channels, why acquire a mobile specialist, as opposed to just adding the necessary tools in-house? The main reason, Henderson said, is that Xtify is really good at what it does and it's simply faster to acquire and integrate certain skills like mobile than building it from scratch.
"The Xtify guys are a market leader in mobile messaging, you can't create that kind of expertise overnight," Henderson. "Plus, they come to the table with an impressive roster of clients. We're always looking for ways organically and through acquisitions to add to our portfolio. We saw an opportunity to extend our footprint in mobile with this deal, and that was more attractive to us than doing it ourselves."