As more tech companies like IBM, Deloitte and others build up in-house marketing expertise and giants such as Facebook and Google continue to siphon off ad budgets, some mobile companies are teaming up to compete.
Today, Carlyle Group-owned telecom company Syniverse is investing $45 million into mobile marketing firm Vibes to create what the two companies call a "global mobile-first strategy." In the deal, Chicago-based Vibes will get access to Syniverse's nearly 200 sales and account resources in 150 countries to deploy international campaigns for brands like Gap, Home Depot and Chipotle. In exchange, Syniverse will receive access to Vibes' tech platform dubbed Catapault that marketers use to plan and run mobile and text message campaigns.
"Over the past 18 months, we've had this steady increase of requests from Gap and big brands that we're working with in the U.S. [with] a little bit of a barrage about questions about international," Vibes CEO and co-founder Jack Philbin said. "There's pent-up demand for a one-stop shop to help CMOs connect with their consumers, but doing that at scale and across borders is ever more increasingly important."
Vibes initially got its start running text message campaigns for brands in 1998, but has since expanded into mobile advertising and technology that allows Apple Pay and Google Wallet to serve mobile coupons and programs for brands like Pep Boys and Men's Wearhouse.
Stephen Gray, CEO of Syniverse, added that the investment will help its enterprise clients—the firm works with more than 1,500 mobile service providers to process more than $4 billion in daily transactions between operators and over-the-top companies—communicate with their customers.
"One of the things that was very apparent to us is that we needed to invest, partner and collaborate in order to expand, accelerate and grow our enterprise business," he said. "If we look back in just the last several months, mobile engagement has surpassed email engagement."