How Oracle Is Acclimating to a Pro-Privacy Climate

Oracle gets creative after third-party data restrictions

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An Oracle executive did not rule out future purchases to better illuminate its audience insights.
Illustration: Trent Joaquin; Source: Oracle

Oracle was dealt a significant blow by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), leading the company to effectively pull the plug on its audience measurement tool AddThis because of the restrictions on third-party data.

The legislation, which many interpret as a harbinger of things to come from legislators elsewhere in the world, severely inhibits the use of third-party data in the use of ad tech and mar tech.

However, this week at its flagship conference Oracle OpenWorld 2019, the enterprise software giant unveiled its comeback strategy, including further inroads into the de rigeur customer data platform (CDP) space, namely an integration between CX Unity and data management platform BlueKai.

Additionally, Oracle plans to more comprehensively integrate the AI-powered data engine DataFox, a company it purchased last year to better help companies integrate insights across their organizations.

This builds on an announcement last week at the annual ad-tech conference Dmexco concerning a tie-up with Deloitte Digital, with the consultancy’s specialist arm assisting in the rollout of Oracle’s CDP.

Per the terms of the partnership, their mutual clients will be able to leverage Oracle’s CX Unity and Deloitte Digital’s Hux to better align their respective data sets, with the goal of bolstering efficiency between their various departments.

In a press release, Rob Tarkoff, executive vice president and general manager of Oracle CX Cloud, claimed it is often difficult to gain a 360-degree view of a customer, despite widespread use of the term on mar tech vendors’ pitch decks.

“To address the shortcomings of current customer data management approaches, we built a customer intelligence platform that provides the scale, speed, security and precision needed to make every customer interaction truly matter,” Tarkoff said.

The evolutionary phase of data usage

Tarkoff described Oracle’s products as going through “an evolutionary phase” shaped by privacy legislation such as GDPR as well as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the U.S.

“Traditionally, we’ve relied upon things like third-party cookies and mobile IDs to help us construct online and offline audiences that we could package with advertising, but we’re rotating much of that business to much more privacy friendly IP- and contextual-based models,” he said.

To that end, Tarkoff pointed to the 2018 purchase of contextual advertising firm Grapeshot (sources valued the deal at close to $400 million), plus ad verification company Moat (for a reported $850 million).

The contextual ad business in Europe “has been slower to emerge,” he said, adding that it would be some time before it would become as robust as its third-party data business prior to the widespread regulatory crackdown.

“We’re building models to replace a number of the things that we were doing with third-party cookie data,” he said. “The industry in the U.S. and here in Europe is certainly in a phase of transition, and we’re certainly focusing a lot more on the context side of the business.”

Oracle is also offsetting the loss of third-party data by accelerating the rollout of its Moat business in the GDPR zone.

“As we think about ourselves in the future, we believe that we’re in a unique place as we have the scale to help advertisers [measure ad effectiveness] in both the walled gardens and the open web,” added Tarkoff.

New data techniques and more M&A

CCPA is set to become law in January 2020, but some of the industry’s largest names making considerable efforts to influence its terms and conditions before that happens.

Per Tarkoff, Oracle is preparing for a sterner privacy regime across the U.S. by implementing a host of data collection techniques that offer more transparency to the public about how their data is used, and by whom.

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