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Here’s Why Oracle’s Acquisition of Content Sharing/Visitor Tracker AddThis Adds Up
Announced earlier this week, the new purchase builds on Oracle’s already formidable stack of marketing data.
Among marketing platforms, “it’s a race for data.”
That’s how Integrate’s chief marketing officer, Scott Vaughan, summarizes his reaction to this week’s news that Oracle has acquired another data provider, AddThis, for its burgeoning Data Cloud.
The purchase of the Vienna, Virginia-based company, which offers content sharing buttons, audience tracking and content recommendations for websites, joins BlueKai and Datalogix in Oracle’s data stable. (Marketing Land and Search Engine Land use AddThis’s social sharing buttons.)
Here are AddThis’s social sharing buttons for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other networks in practice:
Vaughan’s company, which is a member of Oracle’s app cloud, provides software for handling outbound content marketing and lead captures on other companies’ websites.
“Think how much data is generated from publishers’ sites,” he said, “and they use AddThis.”
“Now that data can be [combined] with BlueKai and Datalogix,” he said, pointing out that AddThis offers what is essentially first-party, your-own-customer data.
Datalogix specializes in acquiring offline customer data, such as from loyalty cards, and using that to determine the effectiveness of online ad campaigns. BlueKai is more online-oriented, providing third-party customer targeting info for advertisers, as well as software, so businesses can manage and analyze their own data.
The AddThis purchase is “an incredibly interesting move,” Forrester Research analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo told me. With this newest addition to Oracle’s growing data family, she said, the tech giant is “way in front” in the data race with such major marketing clouds as Salesforce and Adobe.
The reason? Oracle is now stacking up major sources of consumer and user data, she said, going beyond Adobe’s Audience Marketplace data exchange or Salesforce’s analytics cloud and lead-oriented Data.com. The closer competitive match to Oracle, she said, might be data powerhouse Acxiom.
The race, she said, comes down to how many sources of data you can offer users of your marketing platform, their quality and the ability to combine them into new insights about audiences.
“There’s a real battle going on in terms of understanding audiences at scale” that covers data, analytics and operations, IDC research manager Gerry Murray said.
“The more dimensions you have,” he added, “the more the potential to create correlations” and to watch over multiple channels. In other words, a fuller view of your customers and potential customers.
Oracle has “one of the most comprehensive datasets, [which can now] reach into lots of websites and publishers” to include social sharing and visitor activity, Murray said.
With its reported monthly coverage of 1.9 billion unique visitors from 15 million mobile and desktop websites and the resulting ability to detect broad patterns, Pund-IT analyst Charles King told me, AddThis is “like the Weather Channel for online behavior.”
AddThis also brings to Oracle’s party a potential killer app for user identification, called “canvas fingerprinting.” According to public interest journalism organization Pro Publica, canvas fingerprinting may be used on as many as five percent of all sites:
“[It] works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it.”
That unique identifier could then be used to track a user’s online visits and habits. Such technology could replace cookies, but Pro Publica has pointed out that it could be “virtually impossible to block.”
All of which “deepens Oracle’s ability to do the identity piece they want,” Khatibloo noted, referring to the company’s ambition to create an accurate ID Graph to track users as they move between devices. Many marketing tech providers have a similar multi-device goal, but Oracle’s new data sources and canvas fingerprinting could move it ahead in that race.
Oracle has become “pretty powerful [as a] one-stop shop” for marketers, she added.