Posted in collaboration with Richard Joyce and Joe Stanhope, with Melissa Parrish.


With 150,000 customers, Salesforce, one of the world’s largest providers of customer relationship management (CRM) technology, is a trusted steward of its clients’ first-party customer and sales data. In acquiring Krux, a data management platform that ranked as a Leader in Forrester’s November 2015 Data Management Platform Wave, Salesforce supplements its capabilities with more substantial analytics, artificial intelligence tools, marketing data, and digital audience capabilities and positions itself as a significant competitor to other marketing cloud vendors like Oracle and Adobe. This is a smart acquisition for Salesforce, as Krux is a well regarded vendor in the DMP space, and it fills in a increasingly obvious hole in their Marketing Cloud offering.

The Krux buy, came in at a reported cost of $700 million, according to the Wall Street Journal.just about double the cost to Oracle of BlueKai 18 months ago. The DMP aggregates, normalizes, segments, and syndicates data for approximately 200 marketers and publishers, making 1st, 2nd, and 3rd party data available for marketing and advertising .

Forrester estimates that in 2016 spending on data management platforms will total $896.6 million dollars, and will grow by a compound annual rate of 38.1% to total $4.5 billion in 2021 by broadening the user base from enterprise-level retailers, consumer marketers, and publishers to include healthcare, insurance, and other financial services companies.

In the hyper-competitive environment, with razor-thin margins, that businesses operate in today, in-depth understanding of the customer is a competitive advantage grounded in data that can be collected from and shared across disciplines. The merging of the ad tech and mar tech stacks represents a desire on the part of marketers to unify their positioning and communications strategies across all their customer touch points and the vendors that are falling into place, organizing themselves to deliver on marketer expectations. Salesforce is now no exception.

Working with a DMP is not for the faint-of-heart. It’s an expensive technology to develop, to manage,and to license. Looking to the next 18 months, Forrester predicts that DMP functionality within marketers’ tech stacks will cease to be a standalone product; it will be absorbed, serving as a foundational piece of technology within a suite of products. The remaining standalone DMPs will either carve a business out of tier-two marketers as enterprise marketers continue to gravitate toward the big three stacks or merge with DSPs. Companies lacking the leadership or the financial resources to commit to a DMP solution will find their fortunes slip, while those companies without one to one relationships to their customers will scramble to develop that crucial connection. The big question is: what’s going on with Google?