Oracle Acquires BlueKai, Brings Data Arm To Its Marketing Tech Stack

Company's Marketing Cloud Gets Smarter With Addition of Data Management Platform

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Oracle has struck a deal to acquire BlueKai, a data management platform, the company said Monday. The terms were not disclosed, though reports put the price in the neighborhood of $400 million.

BlueKai CEO Omar Tawakol
BlueKai CEO Omar Tawakol

Oracle said it plans to integrate BlueKai with its previously acquired cloud marketing products: Responsys and Eloqua. If it can do that successfully, Oracle would give its customers the ability to more precisely personalize messages to consumers and b-to-b buyers -- the people those products are used to reach.

The acquisition, subject to regulatory approval, is the latest move in the intensifying battle for cloud marketing supremacy. The race includes big name companies such as Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce, IBM and SAP. Each has snapped up key parts, but the race for the most complete offering has yet to be decided.

"Blue Kai is a highly-regarded data management platform with a broad footprint and is known for being able to partner with a diversity of other technologies," said Forrester analyst Cory Munchbach in an email note. "The company says Blue Kai's data will be directly integrated into the Responsys and Eloqua products - a tantalizing prospect for customers."

Assuming the integration goes according to plan, Ms. Munchbach said, it should make Responsys and Eloqua more appealing.

"I think right now, Eloqua customers are looking at a limited set of data," said Brian Kardon, CMO of predictive marketing and sales analytics company Lattice Engines. Mr Kardon, who who served as Eloqua CMO from 2008 to 2012, said bringing BlueKai data into Eloqua will give marketers the ability to look beyond traditional targeting criteria -- such as name, industry, website visits and webinar attendance -- and towards hundreds of other segments BlueKai will bring to bear.

"Instead of just sending one message to the entire database in Eloqua, you can segment it," he said. "It will be much more intelligent marketing."

The move, Mr. Kardon said, is more important for Oracle's b-to-c business than b-to-b, but it will still put pressure on Salesforce, a competitor without a data management platform of its own.

All told, the acquisition plays into Oracle's "pinata strategy," said Mr. Kardon, using the term to describe Oracle's persistent hitting of CIOs with products, in the hope that money will keep falling out. Now that more budget is shifting into the hands of the CMO, Oracle is taking its stick to them, Mr. Kardon said.

BlueKai, Ms. Munchbach said, "is known for being able to partner with a diversity of other technologies." A good sign for its integration prospects. But, she added, "we'll believe it when we see it in action with actual clients."

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