When Oracle spent almost a billion dollars to acquire Eloqua back in December of 2012, I wondered aloud to many of my colleagues if this signaled the beginning of the “content marketing race.” Well, if that wasn’t the sounding gun, there can be no doubt that Oracle’s acquisition of Compendium is the shot heard ’round the content marketing world.
Over the last 24 hours, I’ve received no fewer than 20 emails and phone calls from friends and colleagues asking what I think about this acquisition. In a few words: Let the games begin.
The content collaboration space
Earlier this year, CMI published the Content Collaboration Tools report covering 13 technologies that we found were disrupting the space and providing solutions specifically geared toward content marketing. Compendium was among those that we covered.
In our take on the space at the time, I said that it was the approach of these companies that were the differentiating factors — not the technology. I concluded that any of the reasonably capable enterprise WCMS solutions could be implemented, or altered slightly, to handle the management of external teams, editorial calendars, and some of the content- or buyer persona-based optimizations that these systems perform. I also wondered which of these companies would soon be acquired by a company looking to bolster its credibility in the content marketing space.
At the time, here was our stance on the lack of differentiation:
It does not necessarily mean bad news for any one of these solutions providers. In fact, it may be quite the opposite in the short term. As was evident with the WCMS trend of the early 2000s, the disruptive and fast growth of the content collaboration space may force the hand of the larger software companies to pivot in this direction. We fully expect that within 24 months, many of the vendors on this list will have been acquired.
What I am truly surprised about is that it’s Oracle taking the first step here.
So, that just happened
In the press release that announced the acquisition, Oracle put forward four bullet points on the reasoning behind this decision. Succinctly stated, they are that Compendium…
- helps companies plan and produce engaging content
- employs a data driven approach, helping marketers be more effective
- can be well-integrated with Eloqua
- can be well-integrated with the rest of Oracle’s stuff
Those points may all be true, but on their own, they don’t point to anything differentiating in the technology itself. In other words, Oracle didn’t buy Compendium to gain technology that it didn’t have, but rather for an approach that the company felt it couldn’t deliver as well as it should.
This is why the acquisition makes such sense to me. Indeed, it does complement Eloqua brilliantly in that it covers all the content management pieces that Eloqua doesn’t have. But, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter if it’s Compendium software driving the content, or one of Oracle’s myriad WCMS systems (and you better believe that Compendium’s customers will be hearing from Oracle’s sales team soon). What matters are the expertise, the approach, and the understanding of the content marketing process that Compendium brings with it — and the success it’s had in deploying it for enterprise customers.
The “Big Bang” might soon be bigger
As I look through my notes for the dozen other companies highlighted in our report, I wouldn’t have bet that Compendium would have been the first to strike (my money would have been on two others that still remain independent). But there you have it.
Only time will tell whether it’s a great fit for Oracle from technology, cultural, and integration perspectives. But, the company has undoubtedly recognized the value of the unique approach of content marketing.
And, on a personal note — I know I speak for everyone at CMI when I say we couldn’t be happier for Chris Baggott and his team. While this is the end of one adventure, it would seem they are embarking on another grand one, for sure.
As for the others… well… game on!
To learn more about the content marketing technology space — and the vendors in it — download Content Collaboration Tools: An Analysis of 13 Technology Solutions in a Disruptive Marketplace.