In case you missed it, Oracle bought marketing start-up BlueKai last month for a reported $400 million. That’s great news for Oracle, and, of course, for everyone at BlueKai. But if you want to appreciate why Oracle needed BlueKai, you first have to take a step back and look at the state of marketing automation.
There’s a lot to like about marketing automation. The vendors do a fantastic job of identifying and scoring prospects. And Marketo and Eloqua (an Oracle company), among others, are experts when it comes to leveraging first-party data to nurture existing clients and prospects at the bottom of the funnel (i.e. prospects who have been personally identified).
But as helpful as marketing automation platforms can be, there’s a reason they’re sometimes referred to as “email marketing platforms on steroids.” Simply put, there’s still a lot they can’t do. First and foremost, marketing automation platforms can’t reach the anonymous prospects at the top of the funnel. That’s a major shortcoming if you’re trying to drive new customers, and it tells you just about everything you need to know about the BlueKai acquisition.
As Oracle executive Steve Miranda said in an announcement, “The addition of BlueKai to the Oracle marketing cloud enables marketers to act on data across both known customers and new audiences and precisely target customers with a personalized message across all channels.”
Translation: Oracle now has the data to get into prospecting and retargeting in a big way. That’s a big deal for programmatic marketers because it essentially bridges that big gap that sits between acquiring and nurturing prospects. Oracle’s Eloqua, with the addition of BlueKai, will now have the power to take you all the way down the marketing funnel.
With respect to prospecting, BlueKai, as a data management platform (DMP), is connected to multiple demand-side platforms (DSPs) and so can run a campaign looking for prospects who have never visited a brand’s website. But it’s the power to retarget those prospects which makes this a really interesting acquisition for Oracle.
Why? Because Oracle wants its hands on all that data for a reason. If they’re buying BlueKai, it suggests they’re not just interested in bringing basic site retargeting to the platform but the much more sophisticated version, known as programmatic site retargeting (PSR). With PSR, retargeting isn’t about bombarding every last user who has visited your site with display ads until they want to get a restraining order against your brand. It’s about having access to enough data so that you know not just who to retarget but also who not to retarget. It’s about being able to score each prospect in a universal profile in the cloud and then to use that score to create so many finely carved segments that the word “segment” itself hardly seems to make sense anymore.
Because let’s be clear: When you have that much data with your platform, you’re not just saving money by making smarter bids. You’re suddenly in a position to really make programmatic work as it should. You’re suddenly in a position to know when a user is moving from one device to another and when a user is in the state of mind to make one purchase or another. At Chango, we call this connecting the dots, and we’ve seen firsthand that it can send new prospects flying down that funnel.
And, as noted, once they’re making their way down the funnel, good old marketing automation platforms, such as Eloqua, are ready and waiting to do some nurturing. In other words, with BlueKai’s data, Eloqua is going to be a much more powerful platform. A bridge is being built over the prospecting-nurturing gap. And that’s a big deal for marketers.