We recently completed our evaluation of 14 through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) vendors in “The Forrester Wave™: Through-Channel Marketing Automation Platforms, Q3 2015.” The TCMA Forrester Wave was oversubscribed — besides the 14 evaluated vendors, there are an additional 10 to 15 TCMA vendors that we are researching. Obviously this is a very fractured market, even considering the growing number of companies — across B2B industries such as healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, tech, and telecom — now leveraging their channels to amplify their marketing.
Last week, Zift Solutions, a leading TCMA vendor, announced that it will be, in essence, acquiring “semi-competitor” SharedVue — “semi” because SharedVue didn’t qualify its product for the TCMA Forrester Wave. SharedVue has been owned and controlled by The Channel Company, the corporate entity behind CRN (IT channel journalism), Xchange (IT channel events), and IPED (IT channel training and consulting) since 2010. SharedVue’s product is strong in its content syndication core, but the company has done little to expand the product into a broader, fuller TCMA platform involving marketing campaign packaging, digital asset management, digital marketing tactics support, etc.
Still, SharedVue has a number of notable customers, and Zift, the recipient of a fresh venture round led by Arrowroot Capital and SSM Partners to the tune of more than $14 million, is using at least some of that money to buy what amounts to market share. We see this as a positive — a positive for Zift (increased market share); a positive for SharedVue (a more focused product R&D ownership); a positive for SharedVue’s customers (who will migrate over time to a more capable Zift TCMA platform); and a positive for the TCMA market.
Per the latter, it’s obvious that customers will benefit from a smaller number of vendors having a larger market presence. After all, it’s nigh impossible to sift through RFP responses from 25-plus TCMA vendors (unless you have someone like Forrester helping you). And the TCMA vendors, even the few moderately sized ones, still represent some element of risk to customers. So bigger is better for all.
And this is just the beginning. Zift’s acquisition of SharedVue will usher in a rash of many mergers and acquisitions involving TCMA and enterprise marketing automation vendors over the next two years.