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Aprimo buys DoubleClick marketing units

DoubleClick continues to be sold off as marketing technology vendor Aprimo scoops up the SmartPath and Ensemble products.

Just months after it was acquired by a private equity firm, DoubleClick Inc.'s SmartPath and Ensemble products are being sold off.

Indianapolis-based Aprimo Inc. said yesterday that it will acquire the enterprise marketing solutions (EMS) unit of DoubleClick.

"It's a meaningful move," said Elana Anderson, senior analyst with Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. "With Aprimo not only buying SmartPath but Ensemble, which has three or four of the top 10 credit card carriers, it's a real signal of Aprimo's movement into the broader market, making them a direct competitor against Unica."

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition adds 70 new customers to Aprimo's base, including companies that serve strategic industry verticals such as pharmaceuticals/life sciences, retail and telco. Other new customers fall under the financial services, high-tech and manufacturing segments, areas that Aprimo said are its traditional areas of strength.

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The acquisition presents another twist for customers of Ensemble, who saw their company acquired by DoubleClick in 2002. In April, an affiliate of the private equity firms of Hellman & Friedman LLC and JMI Equity revealed plans to acquire DoubleClick's assets for $1.1 billion. That transaction is separate from the sale of the EMS business and is expected to be complete in the third quarter of this year.

Rob McLaughlin, executive vice president of Aprimo, said the company will continue to support SmartPath and Ensemble customers through the next several releases of Aprimo's product line as it brings the applications together. A definitive timeline will be laid out in the next three to six months. DoubleClick and Aprimo will partner to support Data Management and DARTmail customers who are also EMS customers.

Aprimo will have its work cut out for it, trying to retain some of its larger customers over the coming 18 months, Anderson said.

"I'm not recommending anyone jump ship," Anderson said. "Given that Aprimo is going to support and do bug fixes, no one should make a rash move. But the technologies are not compatible. They're going to retire the software. They still have to build a high-end campaign management engine."

However, McLaughlin said Ensemble's strength in high-end campaign management situations, specifically in business-to-consumer environments, complements Aprimo's focus on one-to-one marketing.

"We see a very compatible road map, bringing together our applications under what we call a demand creation suite," he said.

Aprimo will add 70 employees from DoubleClick's EMS unit, bringing its total workforce to 175.

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