The Google booth with Google employees standing near it at a recent Pubcon conference.
Google officials said its partnership with Marketo "demonstrates Google Cloud’s commitment to deep collaboration with leading SaaS companies." PHOTO: TopRank Marketing

Marketo announced a partnership with the Google Cloud Platform Aug. 24 which signals a “mind-blowing” convergence of marketing and advertising technologies and underscores the "scale and power of a public cloud infrastructure."

Marketing automation practitioners and analysts shared these thoughts with CMSWire after Marketo announced its multi-year collaboration with Google and its Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

How Do Google and Marketo Benefit?

First, what the partnership entails: beginning in 2018, San Mateo, Calif.-based Marketo will run its marketing automation products entirely on Google's Cloud Platform. 

By moving its infrastructure into Google's public cloud, Marketo gains integration between its engagement platform and Google's G Suite, data analytics and machine learning capabilities and a greater ability to scale. It also gets to shed its data centers in the process.

Google scores another public-cloud customer migrating its on-premises data centers (with data from its 6,000 business customers according to Marketo company officials) to Google’s cloud — marking another win for the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant in its quest to compete with Amazon, Microsoft and IBM in the cloud infrastructure wars

Scaling for the Big Data World

Lori Wizdo
Lori Wizdo

“There is a lot of potential value in this move for Marketo customers,” Forrester principal analyst Lori Wizdo told CMSWire. “Obviously, a transaction that involves ‘10s of petabytes’ of customer data underscores the importance of the scale and power of a public cloud infrastructure. Marketing touchpoints will continue to increase in the ‘internet of things’ era, and the data that is going to pour into automation platforms is going to increase dramatically.”

Marketo has taken hits from customers for performance issues, such as Smart Lists that “take forever to run," email template changes which take 10 to 20 minutes to approve, and complex campaign flows requiring built-in delays to allow activity data the time to synchronize across the platform before it can be leveraged for further personalization.

The Google partnership will “help tremendously,” according to Ryan Vong, president and CEO of Marketo partner Digital Pi, based in Santa Clara, Calif. It will also further advance the goals of Marketo’s Project Orion, a big data re-architecture aimed at providing big data scalability and better positioning Marketo as a business-to-consumer (B2C) provider. The company's historic strength has been in the B2B market, but in 2016 it signaled a conscious shift to address the scale and responsiveness needs of B2C customers.

Marketo on Google: The Orion Boost

Ryan Vong headshot
Ryan Vong

“The Orion architecture running in the Google Cloud is exactly what they (sic) need,” Vong told CMSWire. “With all the strain on the Marketo servers/data center, it makes sense that Marketo focuses on building product and less on trying to optimize the data center. I'm thinking the scale is how Orion could be pulled off.”

Where speed matters greatly for Marketo, scale in processing is foremost, Vong added. Marketo processes hundreds of thousands of calculations in the background per instance.

“Gains are in speed of those processes to be near real-time," Vong said, "but just the ability to process those via Google is amazing. Think about how many times Smart Lists just keep spinning or things just takes time to load ... minutes and sometimes hours down to fractional seconds. In a typical search query, Marketo processes through hundreds of thousands to millions of activities — depending on size of a database — to find the right ones for results. It's something Google does every day.”

The cost of Marketo running its own data centers may have been a big factor pushing the vendor toward Google. 

“To spin up an instance required investments in hardware which they (sic) don't get any returns on,” Vong added. “Makes sense. It is a subscription-based company, and it's a big hit to bring on new customers.” 

MarTech Meets AdTech

The Google-Marketo partnership goes beyond cloud computing, analysts said.

Naturally, there are gains to be made when marketing automation technology (like Marketo’s) intersects with advertising technology (like Google’s). 

The benefit of AdTech and MarTech coming together "is as mind blowing to me as when Web Analytics and Marketing Automation came together," Vong told CMSWire.

“Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are playing a critical role in the MadTech convergence of brand identity, audience building and data unification,” CMSWire author Katie Wheeler wrote last month. “Imagine the outcome if marketers could acquire customers via online advertising campaigns, while also converting customers via outbound channels.”

MadTech to the Rescue

Marketers are challenged to deliver evermore contextual and connected interactions across ever increasing digital touchpoints to increasingly intolerant customers, Forrester’s Wizdo said.  

“This struggle,” Wizdo said, “is pushing marketing orchestration and execution capabilities to their limits. A big part of most digital advertising budgets goes to Google AdWords — either for pay-per-click, display, or remarketing ads. And, even though Marketo already offers a way to leverage AdWords, it’s not hard to imagine some charged-up use cases for better targeting, personalization and optimized execution.”

Less-sexy things like integration with G-Suite will offer up potential value for Marketo, Wizdo said, adding, “Marketing is a highly collaborative team sport. Better tools to support the work that happens around the currently automated process of digital engagement can really ramp-up the execution of a marketing team.”

GDPR Implications?

Neither Google nor Marketo cited regulatory or compliance reasons for the partnership in their press releases. However, hosting customer data comes with regulation and governance, and even more so in the lead up to the May 2018 deadline for the European Union's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Is the Google Cloud Platform ready to take on compliance? It’s definitely preparing.

Marc Crandall, director of data protection and compliance for the Google Cloud, blogged in May that the GDPR is “the most significant piece of European privacy legislation in the last 20 years.”

He promised Google will make “important updates to contractual commitments that directly address GDPR requirements” and that the company is also a “committed partner in customers’ GDPR compliance efforts. Users can leverage Google Cloud services with confidence understanding the robust data protection capabilities built-in to Google Cloud.”

Particularly, Google is preparing its cloud for GDPR in the areas of:

  • Data processing terms
  • Third-party audits and certifications, such as ISO security audits
  • International data transfers
  • Data export
  • Incident notifications

“We’re working to make additional operational changes in light of the new legislation,” Crandall said, “and will collaborate closely with our customers, partners and regulatory authorities throughout this process."

Advanced Analytics and AI Promises

Joe Chernov headshot
Joe Chernov

And, of course, what would a technology partnership be these days without artificial intelligence (AI)?

Joe Chernov, VP of marketing at Boston-based InsightSquared, noted in an interview with CMSWire the “AI promise” of the Marketo-Google Cloud alliance. 

Nan Boden, head of global technology partners for the Google Cloud, wrote in a blog post the alliance allows Marketo customers to leverage advanced analytics tools like Google BigQuery and Machine Learning APIs. 

“My real hope,” Chernov said, “is that the AI promise bears fruit. I’m reluctant to bet my pipeline on a machine-learning algorithm cooked up by a startup with a handful of engineers. But Google? Yup, that’s a different story.”

Wizdo cited the “loads and load of marketing processes that can be optimized with AI and this alliance will help put those capabilities into the marketing playbook faster.”

A 'Clear Win' for Marketo and Google Cloud

Justin Musterman, co-founder and CTO of New York City-based SummitSync saw the partnership in broader terms. We’re in a “marketing automation software war and partnerships like these are what win the battles.”

Musterman called the partnership a huge win for the Google Cloud as it’s lagged behind cloud computing giants AWS and Azure. 

“Having Marketo as a client and all of their (sic) users’ data allows for innovative leveraging on both sides,” Musterman said. “It’s also a direct attack at Salesforce’s Einstein AI technology as Marketo will now be powered by Google’s machine learning and AI — both of which are nearly unparalleled. It is a clear win for both Marketo and Google Cloud ....”

Marketo did not respond to CMSWire's request for comment.