What Adobe’s Acquisition of Marketo Will Mean for B2B Marketers in 5 Years

September 22 2018

What Adobe’s Acquisition of Marketo Will Mean for B2B Marketers in 5 Years

What Adobe's acquisition of Marketo will mean for B2B marketers in 5 yearsEditor’s Note: No animals were harmed as a result of the time travel required to complete this article.

This week, Adobe announced its acquisition of the marketing-automation firm Marketo for $4.75 billion. 

To find out what this will mean for B2B marketers, I decided to pull a Back to the Future with my trusty flux capacitor, and make a quick trip to the 2023 to find out what the biggest changes will be. 

With that, here are my top six (100% true) predictions for what this acquisition will mean to marketers in five years. 


1. Markedobe.com and Adobeto.com

Squatting on these domains will be dumb. Just forget it. Save yourself the $136.48 and buy that street-smart sleeper jacket you’re eyeing.  

2. A MAP for marketers—and artists

Prior to the acquisition, Marketo had been credited with having one of the most intuitive user interfaces in the industry.  

This was a result of focusing on building a marketing platform FOR marketers instead of techies. The simple drag-and-drop and templated assets meant anyone and everyone could get stuff out of the door.  

For marketers, this has generally been thought of as a positive—and its undoubtedly aided in Marketo’s user adoption. But as Marketo continued to move upstream into the enterprise audience, it confronted larger operational teams compromised of designers and production artists that were accustomed to controlling every variable. They struggled with this user-friendly approach—for these super users, it proved limiting. It wasn’t built for their needs, and often slowed them down.

Fret not. Adobe isn’t going to leave its core user base out in the rain, and will immediately set to work crafting native integrations with some of its key content creation tools such as Dreamweaver.  

The ability to reference dynamic content, personalized fields, and seamlessly upload and download emails and landing pages will quickly become part of Adobe’s—and Marketo’s—native toolset. This will allow designers and production artists to stay inside the tools they were most comfortable with, resulting in faster execution (think “right message, right time”) and happier teams. 

3. Hot DAMn! Marketo has a fine digital asset management system 

One of the true game changers of this acquisition: Marketo was sitting on top of a formal content management system (CMS) and digital asset management (DAM) system. And Adobe inherited it, pulling a powerful technology into its platform.   

Prior to 2018, marketing automation platforms (MAP) had nothing remotely capable of managing, storing, categorizing, or versioning content. Anyone could name a file whatever they wanted, drop it in whatever folder they wanted, do it three more times, and no one would be the wiser.  

As a result, most organizations have no control or insight into the outdated, non-compliant, or duplicative assets their automation platforms were hosting—and worse still, potentially delivering to their audiences (ouch).  

It turns out having a central place to classify and categorize content will have a massive impact on our ability to get so much more out of the activity occurring on our properties (first party data). 

We’ll know when a prospect downloaded our whitepaper—and we’ll know what particular downloads actually signify (stage, interest level, and so on). This has been blatantly missing in MAPs today, and something you’ll wonder how you ever lived without.

4. Adobe’s experience platform vs. Salesforce’s relationship platform

The 2018 acquisition will ultimately define the competitive landscape as a two-player race. On one side, you’ll have Adobe, which will continue to set out to build the ultimate experience platform, and on the other side you’ll have Salesforce, which is creating the definitive relationship platform.  

Over the next five years, this battle will continue to rage on. 

What’s the difference between experience and relationship? Nothing. It’s just marketing speak (thank you, copywriters). Both organizations will be trying to accomplish the same thing, but will each take a different position to tackle the underlying problem from opposite ends of the funnel. 

Salesforce will still be the CRM of choice for enterprise organizations—and that will give it a massive advantage. This comes in large part from Salesforce’s ability to sell its large user base into their full marketing stack, but also the ability to seamlessly inform that stack with the bottom-of-the-funnel data and vice-versa—which some could argue is the most vital for organizational success.  

Throw Einstein on top of that data, and you can see why Salesforce won’t be going anywhere soon. Building an effective sales culture and setting up your team for success is critical for any organization, and the Salesforce ecosystem is uniquely positioned to do so.

In the opposite corner, Adobe won’t have a native CRM in the next five years (cue its partnership and integration with Microsoft). But it will have a stronghold on the top-of-the-funnel sophistication and optimization that organizations have been clamoring for.  

Content creation and orchestration is in Adobe’s blood, and content will remain king over the next five years. In addition, Adobe will continue to invest in its advertising technology solution, and bring a more complete solution to the table.

Place your bets now. These two juggernauts will be throwing blows for at least the next decade.

5. The Rock and Kanye take on 2020

Who would have thought, right? Start sporting that bumper sticker now. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of history. (Seriously, there will be some repercussions. Be cautious.) 

6. The composers behind marketing orchestration will matter … a lot 

No matter what platform you align with, organizations are inheriting a TON of power and sophistication that are capable of telling and informing rich stories that had not been possible prior. 

But with great power comes a great gap in talent. The skillset for true marketing orchestration continues to grow a mile wide and a mile deep. Technology will continue to move faster than the expertise to maximize it. Organizations that have struggled to bridge the digital divide and foster the talent necessary aren’t just going to need a bridge—they’re going to need a ladder, too.  

Fortunately, organizations who have embraced the wildly creative, and totally geek for decades like Bulldog (shameless plug) have positioned themselves to take advantage of the new age and are poised for success.


The bottom line

The future is bright, and Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo tees up interesting changes for the next five years. But what should a B2B marketer to do to prepare for the next few years of disruption and change? It’s simple: Keep learning and keep growing.

And also get ready for a world where your robot butler keeps your slippers fresh and pillows puffed. Plus, living in a time when teleportation machines exist means your commute will be null. And that’s pretty great. 

Need help staying on top of B2B marketing trends? Feel free to reach out to our team of B2B marketing experts (we kinda know what we’re talking about).

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