After the New Year’s resolutions and before the groundhog peers out of his burrow, the digital advertising and marketing industry gathers for an annual rite of January passage, AdExchanger’s Industry Preview conference. This year Rob Tarkoff, EVP, Oracle Data Cloud and Oracle CX, sat down with AdExchanger’s senior editor, James Hercher, to discuss the convergence of marketing and adtech and how Oracle is helping our customers find new opportunities in the year ahead.
Following are some excerpts from that conversation.*
Hercher: What’s going on at Oracle right now?
Tarkoff: We’ve been looking at what’s happening in the world around the convergence of different platforms across media and also different sectors. Adtech and martech coming together is a big driver for us as we think about what role Oracle should play in the ecosystem.
We are unique in that we’re not in the media business. We are a technology company. We power measurement and activation and audiences. We want to remain that independent 3rd party player because we think we have the size and scale to be a major part of the industry. So, we’re doubling down on a lot of the investments that we made earlier through the acquisitions of Datalogix, Moat, Grapeshot, and other companies, and we see a huge future ahead for us.
Tarkoff: Based on what’s happening in the industry, we’re uniquely positioned. This is a challenging time, and a lot of panelists have been talking about 3rd party cookie depreciation, saying, “Oh my God, it’s this apocalyptic moment.” But there’s always some major shift, and I think what you try to ask yourself as a company is, “Do you have a unique position to be a leader in the post–3rd party cookie world?” We think we do.
We have a really robust ID Graph. Some of it uses traditional cookie matching, but we use a lot of other ways of resolving identity. We have two really big and exciting businesses in Moat measurement, which is cookie-less and uses its own tags, and in our Grapeshot contextual intelligence business, which goes way beyond traditional keyword blacklisting.
Because of our computing capability and the machine learning expertise that we’ve been able to inject into Grapeshot and our Contextual Intelligence products, we’re doing some amazing things across video, audio, and text in finding models that drive brand suitability.
We’ve always had very strong ID Graph capabilities that sat below our audience business and powered our segments. But we’ve moved way beyond that traditional investment. We started to use it in a lot of new ways—by incorporating registration IDs, mobile IDs, Contextual Intelligence segments—all surrounding this whole concept of 3rd party identity, then enriching it in ways that improve our accuracy far beyond a lot of other players.
Hercher: What’s going on in the CDP [consumer data platform] business, and what’s the opportunity there?
Tarkoff: There are a lot of big enterprises that are now trying to shift into the end-to-end CDP. A lot of those companies are only thinking about it as a problem for marketers. We think about it as a much broader problem to solve, as it’s really about the intelligence.
We call it a customer intelligence platform, as it connects all of your front-office functions, including sales, service, marketing, and commerce. They all come together in one place, so you can optimize interactions with the customer.
These are enterprise-class data problems, and that’s what Oracle does best. From the anonymous DMP side to the known audiences on the 1st party data side, we’re stitching all this together on the platform that holds the world’s most critical data, and that’s Oracle Database, which is the power underneath this and offers the ability to scale it globally.
Hercher: Let’s dig into a couple of recent acquisitions. Moat, Grapeshot…what’s on the road map there, and what’s Oracle Data Cloud’s plan?
Tarkoff: Moat is just at the beginning of its potential. I know there’s been a lot of talk about convergence, as TV and CTV and OTT combine with digital to provide consistent measurement, so we can measure outcomes across all these mediums.
But you’re not only going to see Moat doing more across more platforms; you’re also going to see us doing more to advance our position around ad fraud. We’re going to do more to help keep the world safe from ad fraud by using the technology that we have with Moat as well as combining it with capabilities we have from our Dyn acquisition in another part of Oracle.
On the Grapeshot side, the multi-format Contextual Intelligence we’re rolling out now also includes audio, images, and video, and it uses machine learning to create much more direct, almost one-to-one-type marketing. There is just fantastic innovation that’s on the road map, and you’re going see a lot more coming out around that too. Recently, we announced a partnership with Reddit, so we’re also deep into contextually analyzing UGC [user-generated content].
Hercher: It’s interesting that you said “almost one to one.” I think the idea of individual person-based targeting is getting harder to do and certainly, with cookies disappearing, it’s going to get even harder. Is the future of measurement more modeled and less person based?
Tarkoff: There’s always going be a need to build an audience. There’s always going be a need to understand who you’re delivering advertising to, and context plays an enrichment role to that. So, as we rely less on cookies, we’ll work with the industry to help define what those models are. But, as Contextual Intelligence gets smarter, more precise, and more deterministic, the role it will play will be far beyond even what it does today.
Hercher: I would also like to get into TV and the cross-media picture. Oracle is ubiquitous in the digital media world and plugged in to every marketplace and DSP. But TV seems like a whole different beast. Is it just like breaking into a new category for you?
Tarkoff: We’re in active conversations, as you’d expect us to be, in every area. We spent a lot of time at CES with different partners thinking about everything—from the new data feeds we want to ingest from setup box manufacturers to the future of measurement in CTV, OTT, and all forms of video.
Hercher: Do you think Moat, looking down the line, is going to be more of a competitor with Nielsen or ComScore rather than IAS or DoubleVerify?
Tarkoff: I think for sure we will be competing with anybody who wants to stand in the position that Oracle does, which is an independent, 3rd party, verified, accurate, trusted currency across measurement in all forms, not just digital but beyond that. Who is the company that’s in the best position to provide that from end to end?
These platforms are going to become more and more connected as we want to move from adtech to martech to CX, and we gain the ability to understand who customers are as they go through that journey. We will continue to innovate, and hopefully the best products and the most viable partner will prevail.
For more on the operational shifts Oracle Data Cloud and Oracle CX are making to stay ahead of the trends, read the Industry Preview teaser article.
Want to find out what’s on the horizon for adtech and martech this year? We caught up with Rob Tarkoff at Industry Preview to get his perspective. Watch the video:
*Note: Minor edits were made to the transcript for readability and flow.