NetSuite’s $200M Bronto Buy A Bid For Omnichannel Commerce Marketing

AndyLloydThough less known than some of the other big marketing cloud companies, NetSuite took one more step to ramp up its commerce marketing platform by dropping $200 million on marketing automation platform Bronto, the company revealed Thursday.

The Bronto acquisition is the latest instance of marketing automation consolidation. It follows IBM’s roughly $300 million purchase of Silverpop last year, HubSpot’s IPO, ad tech company Criteo’s purchase of French email marketing company Tedemis and TellApart’s grab at AdStack.

As cross-channel identification becomes more important to the ad tech/marketing tech community and its clients, email’s role is expanding.

“Email specifically is like this uniquely identified fingerprint that works across applications,” said Bronto CEO Joe Colopy, who will join the NetSuite team, along with Bronto’s 250 employees, when the transaction closes in Q2. “Email marketing has evolved from batch and blast to more of this common thread that establishes identity.” 

Though NetSuite is late to the email marketing party (Especially considering Experian Marketing Service’s purchase of Cheetah Mail in 2004), company GM of commerce Andy Lloyd said client demand, not competitive forces, precipitated the deal.

“We spent the last three to four years investing aggressively in omnichannel commerce and we think the next phase of that strategy unifies the transactional pieces in terms of online, in-store and mobile, but also all marketing touch points,” he said. For example, ensuring email messages align with on-site offers or promotions.

NetSuite’s focus on CRM, ERP and back office software often drives comparisons to companies like SAP.

Ray Wang, chairman and principal analyst at Constellation Research, said that Bronto sits somewhere between email marketing and campaign management with both social and mobile marketing capabilities. He said NetSuite customers needed more commerce marketing functionality and didn’t necessarily want to retain a bunch of external email or CRM partners.

Bronto’s 1,400 retail customers, split between brick-and-mortars and multichannel merchants, include Bonobos and Samsonite.

“A lot of the email providers out there were not as interesting to NetSuite,” said Lloyd. “We’re trying to build a system that is built for how companies will do their business in the 2020s instead of how they did their business in the 1990s. The direction we see things going – and why we chose Bronto – is they realized marketing wasn’t just a standalone category. It was directly adjacent to driving transactions.”

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