So according to this article and this one, Acxiom is going to acquire Digital Impact in a much more friendly way (e.g., with more money) than InfoUSA was trying to last month. This will probably be mixed news for DI employees, but it’s certainly good news for the email sector overall.
It builds on and extends the trend that really got going in the last 12 months for the big offline direct marketing companies to more fully embrace email as an integrated part of the DM mix for their clients. InfoUSA has already gobbled up a few of the smaller players in the space, and Harte-Hanks bought PostFuture as well.
Why is it good? Everyone wins. Clients win because they will ultimately have fewer vendors and points of coordination/failure to deal with. Players in the email space win because they see an exit. The big offline players win by acquiring important new capabilities. And in a small way, perhaps a bit indirectly, consumers even win, because companies will by definition do a better and more coordinated job of trying to reach them in a multi-channel way.
The biggest risks with convergence are, of course, around integration execution. And I’m not talking specifically here about Acxiom and DI. There’s the ever-present fear that the acquirors will screw up the companies they acquire (just ask the folks from Exactis about that one). There’s also the risk that the acquirors will try to foist too much of the "we’re marketers – we can jam as much marketing at consumers as we want" mentality that’s antithetical to good digital marketing.
Keep an eye on this space. There will be a lot more of this convergence over the next year or two.