The content marketing vendor landscape is big, complex, growing, and sharply bifurcated. It's a David vs. Goliath game in which enterprise giants are pitted against much smaller (sometimes downright tiny) startups.
Research we recently published on the content marketing software landscape (available for download at no cost here) reveals some interesting findings around where this developing market is, as well as where it's headed in the near future.
Bigger doesn't mean better (and vice versa)
Zoomforth is a two-year-old San Francisco startup you've probably never heard of, and one that definitely falls in the "downright tiny" category. Yet with a mere three employees, it already serves enterprise clients such as Deloitte, AT&T, and adidas.
The Goliaths on the scene are, of course, Adobe, Oracle, and Salesforce.com. In addition to enterprise clients, they all service small and medium-size businesses alike. They are striving to buy, partner, and integrate their way into the sector, but these intentions and long-term visions are far from realized.
Who will dominate by being first-to-market with a content marketing stack? At this point in time, it's clearly Adobe's battle to lose, given its robust and well-established Creative Cloud. However, that family of products is geared far more towards publishing than marketing. Many essential content marketing use cases reside in the company's Marketing Cloud products. While Adobe recently announced its intention to integrate the two clouds, that's easier -- and much more quickly -- said than done.
The Goliaths are also partnering with smaller companies to cover capabilities they lack. For example, Adobe has also aligned with startups such as Thismoment that offer needed capabilities around legal, compliance, and UGC. Salesforce.com recently partnered with Kontera for better audience targeting capabilities.
The above reasons account for the fact that when vendors are questioned about their competitors, Adobe's name trails after more marketing-oriented solutions. The other giants, Oracle and Salesforce.com, are aggressively acquiring capabilities, while IBM is a laggard.
Of the Davids in the space, our research reveals that Percolate, NewsCred, and Contently are viewed by their peers as their primary competitors. Each has recently attracted additional rounds of investment and boosted capabilities around image-based content. It's also worth noting the trio is focused on content creation and thus poised to reap the benefits of marketers planned investment in the short term. Others simply have unique capabilities not available anywhere else, such as Mass Relevance's access to Twitter's firehose.
Keep an eye on these players, as well as moves on both the David and Goliath ends of the content marketing software spectrum. When we began research in this sector in late 2013, there were circa 110 companies in the space. By spring of this year, we're counting some 140.
The next couple of years promise to be crackling with activity and realignment as this relatively new sector seeks to define and solidify itself.
Rebecca Lieb is an analyst, digital advertising/media, for Altimeter Group.
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