Gerry Brown, Senior Analyst, Customer Engagement
Between October 2013 and February 2014 Oracle made three acquisitions that enhance the Oracle Marketing Cloud proposition. The first acquisition was Compendium for marketing content management; the second was Responsys, a cross-channel marketing platform; and the third BlueKai, a data management platform and data marketplace focused on the marketing industry.
Many “core” marketing technology applications are already provided by the Oracle Marketing Cloud. The three acquisitions are enhancements designed to supplement, add value to, and differentiate Oracle’s offer, and certainly give Oracle a larger footprint in cloud marketing applications. It should also be noted that the Oracle Marketing Cloud is part of the larger, more embracing Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, which includes commerce, sales, service, social, and marketing.
Oracle has unfulfilled ambitions in the “Marketing Cloud” area, and believes that the market offers a strategic business opportunity. These acquisitions provide three key challenges for Oracle: firstly, retaining key executives from these acquisitions; secondly, determining its product integration and development priorities, given that there are areas of product overlap within the Oracle Marketing Cloud; and thirdly, quickly delivering a refined and integrated product proposition to the market that reflects these changes and enables it to leverage its considerable direct and indirect sales channels.
Compendium is the easy one. Content management is a well-established discipline within Oracle, and as an existing Eloqua partner, Compendium is already integrated with Oracle Eloqua. Responsys is of medium difficulty – it is an over-simplification to say that Eloqua is for B2B businesses and Responsys is for B2C businesses, because these products could compete head-to-head.
BlueKai will be the hardest acquisition for Oracle to assimilate. How online data management platforms “fit” into the marketing technology eco-system is complex and will be difficult to articulate and position in Oracle’s marketing materials. In addition, Oracle has no previous experience of working with BlueKai.
The Compendium acquisition provides Oracle with dedicated content marketing technology
In October 2013 Oracle announced its acquisition of Compendium, a cloud-based content marketing provider, for an undisclosed amount. This was a very small acquisition by Oracle’s standards. Compendium launched in 2007 and had 25 staff based in Indianapolis when it was acquired. Although it had some very large enterprise customers, its customer base overall was relatively small, and so from Oracle’s perspective the acquisition was motivated by the opportunity to acquire its technology.
Compendium was already an Eloqua partner, and so it was a low-risk move. The objective was to add technology to complement the Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud, and because the product integration had already been done, Oracle could quickly go to market with the Compendium-Eloqua product combination.
Compendium’s content marketing technology is a multichannel content distribution capability that delivers relevant and timely content to target audiences on blogs, websites, social media, and email – its functionality can be compared to that of WordPress’s content management software. It also includes content-marketing tools such as persona-driven marketing, integrated content calendars, and integration with marketing automation platforms such as Oracle Eloqua. Oracle also benefits from synergies between Compendium products and Oracle’s Social Cloud.
The Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud already offers a comprehensive persona view of potential customers based on collecting and assimilating buyers’ online behaviors. Compendium offers the next step in the marketing process: delivering the right content to the right buyer at the right time. Compendium helps its clients to deliver more engaging content by aligning that content with customer data and profiles. As of March 2014, Oracle will directly support Compendium clients.
Oracle is already marketing Compendium as the Oracle Eloqua Content Marketing Cloud Service, and it will undoubtedly also be available on Oracle’s Responsys B2C marketing automation solution shortly.
The Responsys acquisition provides Oracle with a highly scalable B2C multichannel campaign management engine
Responsys was subject to much acquisition speculation before it was finally acquired by Oracle for $1.5bn in December 2013. It adds B2C marketing automation to complement Oracle’s existing B2B marketing automation, gained from its acquisition of Eloqua in December 2012. In particular, Responsys’s B2C marketing automation offers large-scale email deliverability, which is not well provided for in B2B marketing automation solutions. This reflects the differing operating model characteristics of B2C and B2B: B2C is high volume/low value and B2B is low volume/high value.
There are number of reasons for Oracle acquiring Responsys, aside from the latter’s ability to execute marketing campaigns at scale. Responsys’s own marketing promotions have been excellent and its “New School Marketing” value proposition resonates well with marketers. Responsys can certainly “talk the marketing talk,” which Oracle has struggled with in the past, and adds marketing “coolness” and brand credibility to Oracle.
Responsys has always been on the leading edge of innovative product and service developments in the marketing automation market. For example, it was one of the first vendors to offer online display advertising capability in a marketing automation platform through its partnership with AppNexus. Responsys is also good at systems connectivity and marketing data integration, which is an imperative for connecting the many disparate systems typically being used within marketing departments.
Oracle’s acquisition of Responsys gives it access to a large number of enterprise customers, which suits Oracle’s market focus well. Finally, Responsys was a well-managed company, and was also profitable, which is unusual for a SaaS-based vendor.
The BlueKai acquisition provides Oracle with a customer data engine
In February 2014 Oracle announced that it planned to acquire the data management platform BlueKai. The deal is estimated to be worth approximately $400m.
Founded in 2008, BlueKai is one of the best known data management platforms in the online advertising world. The BlueKai Data Activation System (DAS) is an enterprise-level, cloud-based Big Data platform. BlueKai advertiser and publisher clients typically use its data to enrich their own proprietary first-party data collected from their own databases, website cookie data, and internal CRM systems. The combined data enables more granular market segmentation and media targeting. The goal is to more precisely personalize messages in multichannel marketing campaigns based on consumers’ personas and online behaviors.
BlueKai is now one of the largest marketplaces for all data that has been anonymized. This includes offline data providers and major data brands that provide data on demographics, psychographics, transaction patterns, social sharing, and so on.
BlueKai aggregates data from more than 200 data providers, and provides profile information on 30,000 customer attributes for more than 700 million consumers. Its primary goal is to identify online purchasing intent. Of course, not all of BlueKai’s 200 data providers will be happy with the Oracle acquisition. BlueKai has always prided itself on its agnosticism and neutrality with regard to its data providers, and this position is somewhat compromised by the Oracle acquisition, for obvious reasons.
BlueKai has no existing relationship with Oracle, but has some joint customers with Responsys, which will be the main BlueKai deployment platform for Oracle, given that BlueKai is primarily a consumer database. However, Oracle plans to integrate BlueKai with both the Oracle Responsys and Oracle Eloqua marketing automation platforms.
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