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Microsoft Buys B2C Marketing Automation Vendor MarketingPilot

Microsoft announced yesterday that it has acquired marketing automation firm MarketingPilot for an undisclosed sum. The news was announced in a blog post on Microsoft's Dynamics CRM community site and in a statement on the MarketingPilot web site.

"MarketingPilot has a comprehensive vision for Integrated Marketing solutions that aligns closely to our vision," said Bob Stutz, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in the blog post. "In addition, they have a talented management team and an innovative product suite built on Microsoft technologies available both in the Cloud and On-premises. We are committed to taking care of MarketingPilot customers, and we welcome them to the Microsoft family. We will be communicating directly with individual customers over the coming days and weeks."

Integration Plans For Microsoft Dynamics CRM?

According to the MarketingPilot web site, the company's existing products and services will continue to be available for purchase. MarketingPilot will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, and the company's staff will become Microsoft employees.

Although it is clear that Microsoft intends to integrate MarketingPilot's marketing automation functionality with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the company has not yet detailed how or when this process will happen.

MarketingPilot's products are sold mainly to marketing and advertising agencies. Its key components are marketed as integrated marketing management (IMM) and agency management software (AMS) solutions; these are targeted primarily at B2C marketing organizations and agencies. Key components include lead management, workflow and project management, digital asset management, and advertising/media buying tools.

B2C Technology Drives Marketing Automation Deals

According to marketing technology consultant and analyst David M. Raab, the deal makes sense within the context of other recent mergers and acquisitions. "It's part of a larger consolidation by adjacent vendors in areas such as email (ExactTarget/Pardot) and sales support (Callidus Cloud/Leadformix)," Raab commented to Demand Gen Report.

"Finally, a CRM vendor is stepping up to integrate marketing automation," Raab added. "I've been expecting this for a long time."

In comments subsequently posted to his blog, Raab acknowledged that while MarketingPilot has "a pretty low profile in the B2B marketing automation world," the company's technology base makes it a good fit for a CRM vendor like Microsoft.

Specifically, he said, MarketingPilot's origins in the B2C marketing automation space are a plus for Microsoft. "The stronger foundational of the B2C systems make them easier to extend throughout the marketing department, which would benefit from tightly integrated collaboration, planning, analytics and database management," Raab wrote in his post.

In terms of changing the competitive landscape, however, Raab said the move won't necessarily pressure other CRM vendors to follow suit. "The real question is Salesforce.com, but I don't think this changes their position on the topic," he said.