I know, I’m usually the poster child for celebrating “diversification” more than “consolidation” in the martech industry. But today I’ll celebrate the latter.
I am excited to announce a very special and personal contribution to the consolidation of the marketing technology landscape: ion interactive, the company I co-founded and served as CTO, has been acquired by ScribbleLive.
You can read the official announcement here.
ScribbleLive is constructing an impressive enterprise content marketing suite, and I’m thrilled that ion’s interactive content platform will now be one of its strategic pillars. ScribbleLive is the first of its competitive set to make a major bet on interactive content. I expect others will follow, but the acquisition of ion gives ScribbleLive a big lead.
Of course, I’m thoroughly biased on this. First because I’m proud of what we developed at ion, and second because I’m now a not insignificant ScribbleLive shareholder. But if you’ll indulge my bias for a few paragraphs on this occasion…
ion pivoted to interactive content just over three years ago — we called it “marketing apps” at the time. I wrote a piece for TechCrunch shortly after that, distilling the vision we had for this new direction: Interactive Content Can Save Content Marketing From The Dark Side.
We sensed this was the start of a big, new movement in content marketing.
Over the next couple of years, many leading brands embraced this creative medium of functional content and built a wide range interactive content experiences on our platform: Anthem, Athenahealth, BASF, Cisco, Dell, Dun & Bradstreet, FedEx, GE, HP, Korn Ferry, NetApp, Orbitz, Pearson, Salesforce, Sears, Symantec, Tata — and those are just a few of the public examples I can share.
I was also deeply honored that both Microsoft and Cisco called out ion’s platform as a part of their published marketing stacks earlier this year.
But creating more engaging and useful digital experiences for customers, as effective as those concepts were, was only one side of interactive content — the “buyer’s side.”
The candid insights that prospects and customers explicitly reveal when interacting with these quizzes, assessments, solution finders, calculators, lookbooks, and so on is pure gold. It’s like programmatically capturing — in high fidelity — an open dialogue between a prospect and a sales consultant.
You can then leverage that data for far more relevant and personalized nurturing through your marketing automation platform — as well as passing it along to your salespeople to accelerate momentum with those prospects in their pipeline. This data, presented in the context in which the prospect shared it, has remarkable power to align and synchronize marketing and sales.
This “sell side” view of interactive content — and the novel concept of designing two-sided buyer/seller experiences — was the innovation at ion that I was probably most proud of. I believe the potential there has only begun to be tapped.
With ScribbleLive’s resources and reach, along with some of the exciting new developments being cooked up in the lab, I anticipate that the combination of ScribbleLive and ion will make a notable dent in the future of content marketing.
However, I will not be joining them on that journey. As fate would have it, at the same time that this acquisition was materializing, I was approached with a different opportunity that I’ll explain in my very next blog post. It felt like the right inflection point for me to transition to a different mission.
Still, it’s a bittersweet moment for me, departing ion at the same time as this acquisition. I’ve dearly loved the ion family — especially the talented product and “martech” teams whom I’ve worked most closely with in our Boston office.
I couldn’t be more bullish on the opportunity in front of them and the superb next generation of leadership at the company who has stepped up to conquer it.
For now, let me close by congratulating ScribbleLive on the amazing team that they’ve now brought into their tent. To that remarkable group of people and to all our wonderful customers who invested in our products and services: thank you. I’m immensely grateful to have had the privilege of working with you.
I’ll still be cheering you on, even if it’s from the bleachers.
P.S. All of this remains separate from chiefmartec.com and my partnership with Third Door Media for the MarTech conference. Neither ScribbleLive nor the new company I’m joining has any stake in or influence over either of these. Our industry and profession is bigger than any one company, and I am committed to continuing to serve that greater community.
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