Oracle Brings Ad Tech Into Its Marketing Cloud With BlueKai Acquisition

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Summary

BlueKai’s assets will give Oracle’s Marketing Cloud new capabilities to target digital ads, messages and brand experiences using internal and external data.

News Analysis

Event

On 24 February 2014, Oracle announced that it has agreed to acquire BlueKai, a leading data management platform (DMP) and data marketplace.

Analysis

This acquisition deal, which expands Oracle’s marketing offerings, signals escalating consolidation in the digital marketing ecosystem. Although BlueKai’s platform is best known for its ability to manage data for delivering targeted ads, Oracle says it made the acquisition deal to integrate the platform into its marketing suite rather than for ad tech.

Oracle accelerated its investments in digital marketing tech and services two years ago, and is continuing its plans to expand its offerings with this acquisition. BlueKai will extend Oracle’s marketing cloud offerings on three fronts:

  • Enhance first-party customer data (via Oracle) with second- and third-party data (via BlueKai) for better targeting of digital marketing messages and brand experiences.

  • Enter the digital advertising space — particularly the fast-growing mobile ad market.

  • Add data enrichment capabilities to its marketing automation applications, especially Responsys (B2C) and Eloqua (B2B).

Key assets BlueKai offers include:

  • An industry-leading DMP, which enables marketers to put data to work in operational systems such as demand-side platforms for advertising, email and website optimization.

  • A user identity management capability that can synchronize and de-duplicate individual identities across a variety of channels and information sources, both internal and external.

  • A data marketplace that collects, categorizes, and exchanges anonymous behavioral intent data for improved campaign performance, such as whether an individual recently researched a given product or service.

  • Data integration relationships with major third-party providers such as Acxiom, Experian, Datalogix and D&B.

  • An analytics engine that provides the ability to discover segments for targeting and attribution.

In terms of competition, this deal will:

  • Challenge Oracle’s main competitors in digital marketing, such as IBM, salesforce.com and Adobe. Of these, only Adobe has acquired a DMP, Demdex, which evolved into AudienceManager.

  • Lend credibility to the data-oriented strategies of other less-direct competitors, such as Google, Acxiom, HP and Neustar.

  • Focus the consolidation in marketing and ad tech on the convergence of user identification and targeting techniques that straddle anonymous and personally identifiable situations.

Recommendations

Marketers:

  • Despite consolidation, most marketers acquire marketing technology and services from multiple sources. Prioritize open extensibility and neutrality regarding data and media sources in your evaluation process.

  • Look for Oracle to sustain BlueKai’s broad network of partners, and accomplish Oracle Marketing Cloud integrations that avoid lock-in and address privacy.

  • If your organization is a current user of Oracle’s marketing automation and analytics products, explore the implications of deepening Oracle’s role in your online advertising, programmatic buying and behavioral targeting efforts.

  • Continue to break down walls between marketing ops and advertising. Companies will be handicapped if they can't take advantage of data integrated from ad tech and customer history and order data because of organizational barriers.

Marketing agencies:

  • Develop a strategic response to the growing threat from software megavendors, anticipating where they may build out competitive offerings. Don’t underestimate the challenges of competing with software. Your choices are buy, partner or build.

Ad and marketing tech and service companies:

  • Independent point solutions will face customer attrition. Evaluate pathways to more-complete solutions that build on complementary platforms.

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