You know a market is both over-hyped, and ripe for consolidation when the players in the market itself eagerly announce the arrival of the consolidation, as in today’s announcement of Click Forensics’ purchase of Adometry. Brian Morrissey is right to point out that agencies and marketers want life to be simpler.
I’ve had a seat at the table before for this movie, twice actually, only in other tech sectors. During the go-go days on the Internet frontier of the late 90’s, Bryan Gernert and I were at Digex, a pioneer in web hosting (ie the business of running web sites for companies). This sector went from nonexistent to hundreds of billions in market value within 5 years. Sure much of the rocket ride in valuations was hype, but underneath it all real technology was being created, and valuable services relieved the lack of skills inside big companies to deploy their own web infrastructure – they didn’t know an e-commerce server from a web server, let alone how to keep it all running 24×7. The result was a huge industry, with hundreds of companies providing very specialized skills (translation: features, not companies). As companies began to get a handle on how to build and run complex web sites themselves, they didn’t want to deal with 20 different technology providers and services companies. And so, consolidation came to pass. Now, the hosting world is dominated by a few hosting services companies, and a few data center automation software companies.
I saw this movie again in the internet security sector in the early 2000’s at Cybertrust, where the threats presented to corporations by an increasingly open network architecture facing the Web far outpaced their ability to understand and manage those risks. Sarbanes Oxley, HIPAA and other compliance regulations required organizations to show they could protect sensitive customer information and prevent breaches. (Queue video of the ‘pick your retailer’ data breach news story)… The result – hundreds of technology companies and security services firms to help the Fortune 500 address the risk. Market balloons to 100+ billion, corporations begin to get a handle on how to build and manage their security infrastructure over time, and get tired of dealing with dozens of partners. Consolidation comes to pass.
Here we are in 2011. Terry Kawaja’s crazy display ad landscape slide is used by everyone inside the market to explain to each other where they fit, what their nuanced little piece of value is. Features, not companies.
Marketers and Agencies have hit the wall. They want a business solution, not best of breed piece parts that they have to figure out and put together. We’re solving that end-to-end problem for brand advertisers and those in the Political and Advocacy space, which requires as complex of an approach as any brand campaign. It all starts with a more intelligent way to think about audiences online, which comes with Attitudinal Targeting, and ends with us rolling many of these features (companies) into our solution. Companies want results, not more partners.
Buckle up, we’re about to go for a ride…