SAP AG announced Tuesday that it is buying behavioral marketing provider SeeWhy. The company noted that the acquisition complements its Hybris commerce platform.

In a statement, the company said that "SeeWhy's solutions for automating personalized campaigns in real time are a natural fit with Hybris and SAP and promise even higher returns for our customers' investments in the Hybris omni-commerce platform." Terms of the deal were not made public.

Based in Boston, SeeWhy has more than 4,000 brand customers, and its real-time Relevant Products/Services 1-to-1 marketing campaigns, triggered by individual customer Relevant Products/Services behaviors, are deployed across e-mail and advertising for desktop, mobile and social channels. According to its Web site, the company's focus is on helping "e-commerce merchants reach out to Web site visitors who abandon their online purchase or forms, as soon as they abandon."

Playing Catch-Up

Its platform, CORE, employs in-memory processing to figure out in real time what is the next best action for a given customer, which actions are then implemented on an ecosystem of more than 30 ad, e-commerce and e-mail service providers, Web analytics Relevant Products/Services services and social networks.

SAP is playing catch-up in building a major marketing platform, compared with such competitors as Oracle, Salesforce and IBM. Oracle, for instance, has added the companies Eloqua, Responsys and BlueKai to its stable, and Salesforce has purchased ExactTarget, among others.

A potential complication of the SeeWhy acquisition is that the Boston company's customer roster includes several SAP rivals, such as ExactTarget, Responsys and Salesforce.

Andrew Frank, an analyst with industry research firm Gartner, told us that the SeeWhy purchase "seems like it's primarily focused on the commerce side of behavioral marketing." He described it as "an interesting purchase," but said SAP did not appear to moving on its own into the "ad-tech side" of automated marketing, where ad campaigns are used to attract new customers instead of focused on completing transactions online, as SeeWhy is.

'CRM Relevant Products/Services Side'

Frank noted that this purchase is not likely to make SAP more competitive with the more ad-tech-oriented marketing platforms from Oracle and Salesforce. He added that SAP looks "at the world from a CRM [customer relationship management] and marketing operations perspective, and SAP is fully on the CRM side of marketing."

In March, SAP and Adobe announced a global reseller agreement for digital marketing and omni-channel commerce for enterprise customers. The arrangement calls for SAP to resell Adobe's Marketing Cloud, using the SAP HANA platform and its Hybris Commerce suite.

It's not yet clear how the addition of SeeWhy to SAP's offering affects the Adobe Marketing Cloud package offering. But, if SAP is oriented toward the CRM/finalizing-customer-purchases side of automated marketing, the Adobe alliance gives it a presence on the ad-tech side.

Last summer, SAP bought Switzerland-based e-commerce platform Hybris for an undisclosed amount. Hybris' technology is designed to sell products and services across channels, including brick-and-mortar outlets as well as Web sites and mobile devices. In 2012, SAP bought online marketplace Ariba and, in 2011, it acquired B2B e-commerce provider Crossgate.