IBM Seeks Strength In Partners With Digital Marketing Network

IBMartIBM’s launch today of a 100-partner-strong Digital Marketing Network will secure access to a slew of ad-related platforms for IBM Digital Marketing Optimization users.

Certified digital marketing partners include a number of DMPs, DSPs and search marketing providers like BlueKai, Criteo, Turn, Marin Software, DoubleClick Search and x+1.

This appears to be a move on IBM’s part to formalize the acquisitions and marketing technology solutions it has taken to market over the last few years, which include capabilities from Unica and Coremetrics on the marketing side and Tealeaf and DemandTec for commerce.

“It’s basically a network that allows us to share data within other solutions that the marketer was already using,” said Jay Henderson, global strategy director for IBM. “In the past, they may have had to create a custom integration or do some custom coding. Now, with this partner network, it’s literally drag-and-drop and multiple solutions are all integrated together.”

Henderson said IBM AdTarget, which was born out of the Coremetrics acquisition, gives marketers additional data about what products people viewed or placed in shopping carts during a site visit for targeted placements. “The Partner Network involves integrations from AdTarget, LiveMail, which is an integration with email service providers, and then something called the Digital Data Exchange [IBM’s tag-management solution], which is kind of a broader partner program for our digital marketing solutions,” he said.

The IBM Digital Marketing Optimization platform would not facilitate media buys itself. The focus of the product is to “integrate all of the Web and digital behavior data from the site and syndicate that information to the platforms where the media buy is happening.”

While there are many packages and software components in the IBM fold, “a key part here is the services component that will be required to enable this,” commented Ray Wang, founder and principal analyst at Constellation Research. “Software alone is not enough to handle the creative requirements the agencies will need.”

Henderson said the point of the Digital Marketing Network is to help marketers make a better decision about the “price and message of the media.” Although IBM declined to share the number of customers using its Digital Marketing Optimization suite, Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of consultancy ThinkJar, said, “IBM has access to more products and services than most any other vendor in the world via marketing partnerships, acquisitions, as well as some organic innovations.”

Kolsky noted, however, that proving out the results of its integrations will be a necessity. “Most of what they have done has not been documented,” he said. “I don’t discount that they can [fuel digital marketing transformation], they [just need to] document and present the results of what they can accomplish.”

When asked what IBM’s cloud for marketers does that’s different than other enterprise companies, Henderson said interoperability between marketer tools ranging from email to website personalization and marketing analytics is the core value proposition.

“If IBM is successful, what they are doing is using technology to enable creative and [other] agencies to do what they do best,” Wang said.

Partner Network integrations are available immediately to Digital Marketing Optimization platform users.

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