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February 24, 2014

Wheelings & Dealings: Continuing Its Marketing Automation Shopping Spree, Oracle Snaps Up BlueKai

Oracle Corp. today revealed plans for yet another acquisition. This time it’s snapping up marketing data management platform company BlueKai. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Business Insider says its value is in the $400 million range.

This deal is important because companies are looking for more efficient ways to learn about and acquire new customers across different communications channels, and this could further software giant Oracle’s quest to help them do that.

BlueKai refers to itself as the big data for marketing company. It offers a media-independent data management platform, audience data marketplace, and analytics system to make businesses more intelligent and efficient. The plan is to integrate BlueKai into the Oracle Marketing Cloud. 

"Oracle's acquisition of BlueKai reflects the increasing importance of a DMP in the marketing technology stack and Oracle's voracious appetite for adding capabilities to its Marketing Cloud and Customer Experience Suite,” says Cory Munchbach of Forrester Research. “In particular, of the other two self-titled Marketing Clouds against whom Oracle competes, doesn't have its own DMP while Adobe has a best-in-class one in Adobe Audience Manager. 

Munchbach adds that BlueKai is a highly regarded digital marketing platform provider that Oracle clients will benefit from, making the Responsys/Eloqua products more appealing.

For Oracle, BlueKai is just its latest acquisition in the area known as cloud-based automated marketing. Oracle in recent months also has purchased BigMachines, Compendium, Eloqua, and Responsys. BigMachines offers cloud-based solutions that enable sales people to more easily generate quotes and pricing for their customers. Compendium offers cloud-based capabilities that enable companies to more easily create, monitor and promote their mobile and other online content. Eloqua is another cloud-based marketing automation outfit, which the company announced plans to buy in December 2012. Responsys, which Oracle announced plans to buy almost exactly a year later, also is a marketing cloud software and services company that many major brands use to create and manage marketing across email, mobile, social, and web channels. Oracle is bringing these solutions together under its Oracle Customer Experience Cloud, which includes the Oracle Sales Cloud, Oracle Commerce Cloud, Oracle Service Cloud, Oracle Social Cloud and the Oracle Marketing Cloud.

As discussed in the January/February issue of CUSTOMER magazine, unifying all the different pieces of the customer experience so businesses can better understand their customers; offer them assistance as needed and via the communication media they prefer; and reaching out to customers and prospects with timely and targeted messages, is something many big names – including Adobe, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce, are doing.

And there already have been many acquisitions by these companies to forward these strategies. For example, Adobe last year purchased Neolane, which Gartner has labeled a visionary in integrated marketing management, multichannel campaign management, and CRM lead-to-revenue management, and Satellite, a company that offers tag management technology to help marketers with analytics and media tracking across websites. Microsoft this January bought cloud-based customer service software outfit Parature. last year acquired email service provider ExactTarget, which itself had previously ingested marketing automation vendor Pardot. IBM and SAP, both of which also have CRM offerings, are other well-known names that have been expanding their scope related to customer experience. IBM was early to the action on this front, acquiring enterprise and cloud-based marketing software outfit Unica back in 2010. And SAP recently has been promoting its concept of Precision Retailing, which leverages geofencing and other triggers, and SAP’s own HANA application and database platform, to better target campaigns at mobile users.

Lori Wizdo, principal analyst at Forrester Research, says marketing automation involves managing the pipeline to revenue – starting with attracting the right kind of traffic, engaging that traffic, and then converting it to sales.

“There will be more consolidation,” Wizdo predicted in her conversation late last year with CUSTOMER magazine. 

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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