Why Oracle Thinks Its a Lead Horse in Digital Marketing

A year ago, Gartner Research Director for Marketing Leaders, Julie Hopkins told us Oracle's $1.5 billion acquisition of Responsys makes it a "lead horse in the race."

She discussed digital marketing industry market share between big marketing cloud players like Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce and IBM, which combined have acquired about $11 billion worth of marketing technology in the past two years

Who's winning the race now? We probably won't have the answer until closer to the end of 2015 or beyond on that. But if 2014 was the year of acquisition, 2015 will be the year of putting those acquisitions into action. 

Just as IBM told us last week about its Silverpop acquisition action items, Oracle Corporation promises innovation out of the Responsys deal that will make it the lead horse, but offered few details of what the innovation will look like.

Oracle and Responsys have been working on some major integrations in the little over a year that's passed since the acquisition, and "we'll see the results of those in 2015," Steve Krause, group vice president of product management for the Oracle Marketing Cloud, told CMSWire. "We're not ready to make an announcement on any particular one but there will be multiple coming."

Why Responsys?

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Remember why Redwood City, Calif.-based Oracle bought Responsys for $1.5 billion? It was a dive into B2C marketing for Oracle, to compliment its previous buy of B2B marketing automation capabilities with Eloqua.

And, for sure, Oracle was answering a move by Salesforce, which made a $2.5 billion acquisition of ExactTarget in the summer of 2013. 

ExactTarget fit well into the Salesforce Marketing Cloud alongside earlier Salesforce scoop-ups BuddyMedia, Radian6 and Social.com. Oracle now has a similar portfolio with acquisitions of BlueKai, Eloqua and Responsys.

It allowed Oracle and Salesforce to offer B2C digital marketing — primarily email, but also SMS, push and web — in addition to B2B automation, social campaigns and social listening.

"We know that customers still make RFPs based on the individual products they need, like email marketing or content marketing," said Krause, who was with Responsys during the acquisition. "Where Oracle differentiates is its gone ahead and spent the money to buy best ones. There were other acquisitions of email marketing companies but for a lot less money, and those companies were down and to the left of us on analysts' reports from us. Oracle has the money to go and buy the best."

B2C Complement

Responsys, Krause said, was at the intersection of cloud and serving the marketer, which made it appetizing to Oracle. And it did for enterprises in the B2C space, "advanced uses cases," as Krause called them. The No. 2 largest software company in the world was certainly not afraid to acquire sharks for clients.

"It felt like it needed a complement for B2C," Krause said, "and Responsys was a very good fit."

Oracle's got the game-plan for solving the "fragmented" marketing technology solutions space with its marketing cloud, Krause said.

"We need a single point of responsibility," he said. "It doesn't all have to come from one vendor, but you need that anchor."

Integrations Post Acquisition

Although the integration process is still in the works, Krause said one of the first technology ventures between the two companies featured Responsys' Push IO, a push notification platform. It's now called the Oracle Push Cloud Service. It's integrated into the Oracle Responsys Marketing Suite.

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"This started as a Responsys acquisition and finished with Oracle," Krause said.

The companies have also done work in mobile, providing technology capabilities for marketers to ensure consistent targeting. "We don't promote an Android app to someone using an iPhone," Krause said.

The Responsys platform has been able to do localizations in countries like Germany and Japan much more quickly with the backing provided by Oracle.

It's also moved some customers into the Oracle Exadata Database Machine, which Krause said "is a big deal" because it gets clients on the "most sophisticated database in the world."

"If this is about great customer experience," Krause said, "then why does it stop at marketing? Shouldn't it go into sales? Shouldn't it go into service?"