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
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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.

“There’s lots of different models that we are working on in that area, but suffice it to say that nothing will stay the same, and we’ll evolve as the market does,” he added.

Tarkoff also did not rule out the enterprise software giant again opening its checkbook as it doubles down on its first-party data credentials.

OpenWorld product announcements  

More immediately, Oracle this week announced that its CDP (CX Unity) will integrate with its DMP (BlueKai), meaning brands that license the products can upload their own first-party data to generate more insights on existing and potential customers.

“What we’ve built is a model for ingesting a number of different data signals, both online and offline,” Tarkoff said.

Through this, the company hopes to aid brands’ lookalike modeling, which allows them to identify the prospects most likely to respond positively to a marketing intervention based on insights from their existing customer base.

“For instance, if I send out an email campaign and only 10% of the people respond, this should be able to help me how to work out how to reach that other 90% of people,” he said.

“We think this integration of a CDP and a DMP will be a very differentiated approach,” he added. “Brands can use this in a way that’s very privacy-compliant.”

For Tarkoff, the ability to plug its CX Unity solution into “the broadest suite of CX applications” on the market is what puts it at a distinct advantage: “We think will have the most native integration between sales, cloud, service and marketing.”

Elsewhere, Oracle has announced updates to DataFox, which will use artificial intelligence to better help organizations update their marketing strategies based on actual sales information as well as better profile and classify both existing customers and the most potentially lucrative prospects.

“Ad tech was historically thought of as a different world compared to mar tech; they were thought of as the world of third-party and first-party,” Tarkoff said. “We’re doubling down on first-party data in a way that can be used by everyone.”

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.