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Adobe to Acquire Efficient Frontier in Mission to Optimize Ad Spend

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In another major marketing acquisition for Adobe, the company has agreed to purchase search centric agency Efficient Frontier. The deal brings Adobe, traditionally a platform company, a global search marketing services business, as well as cross-channel campaign forecasting and optimization capabilities.

With the deal, terms of which weren't disclosed, Adobe comes a step closer to becoming an end-to-end dashboard for campaign management, a la Google. Earlier this month Adobe acquired Auditude, adding video ad management and monetization products to its existing analytics suite (Omniture), data management platform, and content management system. Its CMS is especially well regarded. Adobe came by the product through its 2010 acquisition of Day Software for $240 million.

In addition to Google and Adobe, the list of large companies racing to offer a centralized digital marketing stack includes IBM/Coremetrics, Microsoft, and Google. Aseem Chandra, head of marketing for Adobe's digital marketing business, says Adobe's approach is inherently different from Google's in that Adobe has no interest in brokering ads. It just wants to optimize them.

"There's a significant difference between [Google] and us," Chandra said. "In some cases their business model conflicts with those of their customers. We're not trying to sell advertising. The intent of the service is to optimize ad spend for clients."

The acquisition also points to the rising gap between Adobe's marketing platform - consisting of algorithmic ad delivery and optimization - and its Creative Suite - where the ads are developed at an earlier phase in the campaign cycle. The company wants marketers to help erase that chasm by embracing analytics during the creative process, and building test capabilities into its creative tools.

That can be a tough sell, especially for creative agencies. But according to Chandra, Adobe has made headway.

"The sooner the analyst and the business side get involved in the creative process, the more likely the campaign is going to be successful," he said. "We're integrating a lot of the creative cloud with the marketing cloud and optimizing that flow. They're not two distinct workflows."

Privately held Efficient Frontier also entails a social ad offering, which offers creative automation tools for Facebook ad buys. Adobe plans to integrate the capability with the Facebook ad buying feature already available through its SearchCenter+.

When it comes to display, Efficient Frontier brings a real-time bidding capability, which Adobe says will dovetail nicely with its dynamic ad targeting tools.

The deal is expected to close in the next fiscal quarter.


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