The news: On February 24th, Oracle announced an agreement to acquire BlueKai, a data management platform (DMP) with strength in digital audience targeting. You can read about the acquisition on Oracle’s website here, and Google search will surface many articles covering the news. Here’s Aberdeen’s take.
Following Oracle’s acquisition of the Eloqua marketing automation platform (MAP) and Responsys campaign management , BlueKai represents a compelling addition to Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud. While the devil is often in both the technical and organizational synthesis details of acquisitions, something Oracle has plenty of experience with, the BlueKai-Eloqua/Responsys combination opens up the possibility to support truly integrated digital marketing and customer experience management.
The acquisition speaks to several trends identified in Aberdeen’s forthcoming Digital Engagement research, previewed here for the first time (note: survey respondents are 58% B2B, 29% both B2B and B2C, and 12% B2C). The study identified two leading digital engagement strategies:
Increasing the use of digital audience targeting;
Integrating digital channels into the end-to-end buyer’s journey.
Finding Your Digital Buyer
With so much of the buyer’s journey taking place as a self-guided online education, the adoption of digital audience targeting is clear hidden sales cycle response. The combination of 1st and 3rdparty data allow for more granular, and more accurate targeting capabilities that can support both brand-level advertising, as well as direct response. Tactics like contextual and search retargeting, and predictive, look-alike analytics, provide a better view of both demographic fit and “in-market” intention signals. As seen in the 3rd most popular digital engagement strategy by the Leaders (top 35% in performance), companies are increasingly focused on using customer analytics to drive digital segmentation and targeting. Here BlueKai’s analytics provide a nice complement to the buyer and customer data captured by the marketing automation / campaign management system.
Where the potential combination of Oracle and/or Responsys and BlueKai may really shine is the ability to incorporate digital touch-points into the lead nurture and customer engagement flows defined within these systems. Interest in this approach is high, and is the 2nd-most cited strategy by leaders, and tied for the top strategy across all companies. Tactics like CRM re-targeting, often called a “custom audience” allows marketing to specifically reach existing leads or customers with a targeted message appropriate to their stage of the buyer’s journey or customer lifecycle.
Together with Eloqua and Responsys, the BlueKai acquisition gives Oracle one of the most comprehensive collection of marketing and customer experience tools in the market, rivaled mostly by Adobe (which also has digital audience and advertising capabilities), which recently acquired Neolane for campaign management, and Salesforce, with its obvious strength in CRM complemented by ExactTarget, Pardot, and several social media marketing tools.
Look for more acquisitions in the digital engagement / digital advertising space to follow this year and into next, as it represents the picture of an emerging, but fragmented market. Look also for more research from Aberdeen looking at the digital engagement practices of high-performing companies.