Content Marketing Consolidation Continues, As Cision Grabs Viralheat

CisionCision, largely known as a purveyor of PR software, has acquired enterprise social media and content marketing platform Viralheat. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cision has been on an acquisition streak over the past year, merging with media intelligence tool Vocus, acquiring UK-based Gorkana Group and snapping up social analytics platform Visible Technologies.

Its acquisition of the 25-person team at Silicon Valley-based Viralheat on Monday points to broader market consolidation at play.

“We’ve seen convergence from a customer perspective where using five or six different tools to accomplish a campaign task is not where we’ll be a year or two from now,” Peter Granat, Cision’s CEO, told AdExchanger. “We’re trying to get out in front of it and create an integrated suite across organic, paid, earned and owned media.”

The formation of Cision’s stack is not an isolated incident. Lines are blurring between traditional PR agencies, which focus on earned and organic reach, and the media agency, traditionally retained to deploy media executions across a variety of channels.

This overlap drives consolidation, in which vendors buy agencies or other vendors. Social marketing platform Sprinklr, for instance, acquired two social platforms doing double duty as digital shops – Dachis Group and TBG Digital – in the same year. 

Earlier, Salesforce.com acquired a range of social listening and publishing tools like Radian6 and Buddy Media – both of which were instrumental in the formation of Salesforce.com’s Marketing Cloud.

From a practical standpoint, Granat said, PR agencies want to take organic or earned content and amplify it via paid media. “The challenge with traditional PR is you could get great earned media coverage, but you couldn’t historically dial that up to get broader audience reach and now with native advertising and paid reach, you can amplify that earned media through paid media,” he said.

Of course, the answer is not as simple as stitching five disparate pieces of technology together. And competition is fierce: Everyone from Adobe to Salesforce.com to Facebook is tackling the social marketing stack.

Then, on the content side, publishers like BuzzFeed and CBS Interactive, which just launched a custom content division dubbed Studio 61, are working directly with brands, turning marketing communications into one line item on a brief that includes native content like quizzes, lists or other integrated sponsorships.

Viralheat’s CEO, Jeff Revoy, said the company's focus went beyond social media listening and engagement. With ads API access to Facebook and Twitter, larger integrations into WordPress and Tumblr for content marketing and and hooks into marketing automation and CRM such as Marketo and Salesforce.com, ViralHeat sits at the intersection of various applications.

"We saw massive convergence between social marketing, content marketing and PR," Revoy added. "We felt, given the suite of products and global reach of our products, it made sense to integrate the two platforms."

 

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