How Oracle’s Rob Tarkoff Will Win The Next Stage Of Data And Ad Tech

Rob Tarkoff, EVP, Oracle CX and Data Cloud, will speak at AdExchanger’s upcoming Industry Preview conference in New York on Jan. 28-29, 2020.

Oracle’s data division has had a tumultuous year.

Eric Roza, Oracle Data Cloud chief, left last April, and was replaced by Rob Tarkoff, who ran the customer experience (CX) cloud unit.

The data cloud cut staff by 15% as it discarded products built around third-party data and refocused on contextual data, brand safety and measurement.

Tarkoff now oversees the CX unit, as well marketing, sales, service, commerce and the data cloud – though the distinctions between those legacy suites are becoming less and less important, he said.

AdExchanger caught up with him about Oracle’s evolution, and whether this year could be as frenzied as 2019.

AdExchanger: How has Oracle changed in the past year?

ROB TARKOFF: The biggest change is being proactive about where the industry is going. You saw Google’s announcement on their timeline for third-party cookie support. And the notion of identity is in transformation.

What we’ve done in the past couple of years is augment the team with executives like Mollie Spilman [the former Criteo COO, who joined last year as Oracle Data Cloud’s revenue chief] and organized the business around key themes that were emerging, particularly cross-media measurement with products like Moat and contextual audience targeting models with Grapeshot.

Those are both Oracle Data Cloud businesses, right? Are they part of any other Oracle suite?

Now that the entire world is moving to the cloud, we don’t think of products so much as distinct cloud businesses.

We’re also finding that as data and ad tech models change, there’s a lot of convergence happening when it comes to the visibility of customers across their journeys, from unknown prospects to known customers. Companies are doing more direct response type activities, or loyalty and affinity programs, and they need ad tech and mar tech to converge.

What does that convergence look like?

In terms of our product changes, you see that in things like the integration of our BlueKai DMP with the CX Unity CDP offering. Also in how we use our ID graph tech in products for verticals such as retail, financial services and travel.

Also, consider the implications for what Google’s doing with third-party cookies and what that means for targeting on the open web.

We’ve known this was coming and have been preparing for this future. And so targeting on the open web is increasingly a smaller percentage of our business.

And that system for identity changes to other data, such as MAIDs [mobile advertising IDs]or registered IDs [i.e., app or site publishers with emails or logged-in users] There will be a period of time now where other methods of identity will accelerate.

Oracle is known for its audience segments, but not necessarily as an ID graph company.

We’ve actually always had an Oracle person ID that stood behind the way in which we developed audience segments. It’s one of the reasons why our audience graph has worked so well.

And a lot of onboarding technology came to us with Crosswise [a cross-device data company Oracle acquired in 2016]

Many agencies and partners expressed concern coming back from CES about whom to trust in that space and who had the long-term independent life to be the holder of the person-based ID.

Our business model to date hasn’t been to gain ubiquity for that ID graph or monetize by directly licensing it.

Is the goal to create a single Oracle cloud offering?

There are a lot of different potential business models for us. There are customers asking for custom graphs as a service. Others are looking to integrate Oracle applications as a way to help customer journey orchestration across lifecycles. Some companies have specific siloed data sets they want resolved in more of a CDP type service.

One of the things we’re discovering as we position the business to be more than custom or branded audience segments for platforms such as Google and Facebook, is that there’s a broad need in the market that we have a unique opportunity to address.

The market is evolving to where companies want high fidelity and trustworthy first-party audience data, compared to previously focusing on standards of third-party data. Oracle is a longtime trusted partner, and I think is well positioned to provide that in the world of first-party data too.

However we evolve in the future, it’ll be about meeting trends in consumer experience and the overall customer journey, not vendor category designations. And we see the familiar enterprise marketing technology companies in the competitive set.

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