Oracle and Adobe Invest in Cross-Device Identification Trend

Oracle Partners with Drawbridge, Adobe Announces Device Co-op

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Oracle and Adobe are beefing up their cross-device tracking capabilities. The firms, two of the largest companies in marketing software and related data services, have invested in new ways to link consumers' laptops, tablets and phones in the hopes of targeting and measuring marketing efforts in a more cohesive way across devices. Oracle is doing this through a partnership with device identity firm Drawbridge, while Adobe has built a co-op for current clients to share anonymized device ID information.

For Oracle, which has become a leader in digital advertising and data connections through acquisitions of BlueKai, Datalogix and most recently AddThis, the Drawbridge partnership enhances its consumer identification capabilities by adding reach and accuracy. Drawbridge does what is known as probabilistic device linking.

"This is an important problem, so different players are going to come in and solve them in different ways," said Omar Tawakol, senior VP and GM of Oracle Data Cloud, regarding cross-device identification.

Unlike so-called "walled gardens" such as Google and Facebook's method of connecting consumers to multiple devicess via login identifiers, the Drawbridge system makes educated inferences about which devices are associated with the same consumer. The company parses multiple pieces of information associated with 5 billion mobile phones, laptops and other devices that come in through calls from ad exchanges showing a device's operating system, location, and time of day the interaction occurred.

"We can effectively start constructing how many times do we see different sets of devices at a given time and location," said Drawbridge Founder and CEO Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan. The end result is a conclusion that, for example, the same female consumer in a particular locale is associated with multiple devices, which are then labeled with a specific anonymized identifier. This probabilistic approach is used to link devices across a wider pool of people than closed systems like Facebook and Google offer, according to Drawbridge.

The Drawbridge system requires a high degree of certainty before concluding that one device is indeed tied to another, Ms. Sivaramakrishnan said. That accuracy level is dependent on the scale and reach of the information the company is working with. "Depending on the scale of the data, we would have different levels of confidence," she said.

Data firms including Neustar, Acxiom and Acxiom subsidiary LiveRamp also work with Drawbridge.

Adobe, which currently is holding its annual Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, will take a much different approach to device identification in its planned Cross-Device Cooperative, which will be available in beta later this year. Adobe clients that agree to belong to the co-op will help one another determine when a consumer is associated with multiple linked devices.

For example, when a user visiting a travel site belonging to the co-op logs in to the site online via a desktop computer, then later checks trip dates using a mobile device, the system can identify those devices as connected and belonging to the same user. Other co-op members would be able to incorporate that information when targeting or measuring ads or marketing messages. According to Adobe, the only data shared in the co-op is the fact that two or more devices are linked to an anonymized person, and co-op members must have a relationship with the consumer already in order to take advantage of the device linking information.

"This is oriented around the customers that you already see," said Asa Whillock, Adobe's identity czar.