Oracle crosses device matching off its shopping list

Contact: Scott Denne

Oracle wastes no time matching Adobe’s cross-device announcement last month with one of its own as it acquires Crosswise, an Israel-based startup that sells data to enable advertisers to link disparate devices to a single anonymous profile. As digital advertising moves from its home base in the desktop into phones, tablets and connected televisions, cookies have lost most of their value as a mechanism for targeting and measurement. Any vendor selling marketing and advertising software for targeted campaigns must move beyond the cookie, and cross-device data providers like Crosswise offer the most obvious path to getting there.

Purchasing several marketing SaaS firms in the early part of the decade was Oracle’s initial foray into the world of marketing software. But following its 2014 reach for BlueKai, an audience management platform and data exchange vendor, all of the company’s efforts have been dedicated to building a digital advertising and marketing data offering. In addition to the pickup of BlueKai (see our deal value and revenue estimates for that transaction here), Oracle paid hefty amounts to buy offline retail data provider Datalogix (estimate) and a source of online behavioral data in AddThis (estimate).

The addition of Crosswise gives Oracle a stronger story around identity. The rationale behind its earlier purchase of Datalogix was to give its BlueKai software the data and infrastructure to form a better picture of consumer identity. Datalogix accomplishes this by taking data traditionally associated with direct mail (household demographics) and matching it with information from retail loyalty card programs and online behavior to form consumer identities that cross the online and offline worlds. Crosswise fills a significant gap in this by linking devices and enabling Oracle to offer a single set of data to power targeted ad campaigns and then measure the impact online and offline.

Several acquisitions of cross-device matching providers have left few available targets for the next round of would-be buyers. Most deals have been modest tuck-ins, such as purchases by privately held companies AppNexus, Lotame and Qualia Media. Oracle’s acquisition of Crosswise, a three-year-old startup with just $5m in funding, is likely a bit larger than those, yet far smaller than the most recent transaction in the category – Telenor’s $360m purchase of Tapad in February. Drawbridge, one of the pioneers and largest independent player in this segment, is the most visible target. Others include Adbrain and Augur.

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