The mad dash for offline-to-online data connections has been one of the top trends of 2014.
Enterprise giant Oracle was the latest to close the loop between the online and offline worlds when it revealed Monday its intent to acquire data solutions company Datalogix.
“This deal is about championing commerce,” said Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research. “This is not about owning customer experience or having the best ad network. Amazon and Apple are already in this game because it is about payments and about transaction data. And Oracle completely gets commerce.”
Scott Vaughan, CMO of marketing software and media services company Integrate, echoed Wang’s sentiments.
“[Datalogix] is a significant statement on [Oracle’s part around] the perceived value of offline data,” he said. “Not all consumers or business professionals live online and take many actions in stores, via subscriptions and other areas, which are valuable as a compass for consumer targeting. For today’s enterprise, data-driven marketers, it’s a missing piece of the puzzle.”
Datalogix’s value in the advertising ecosystem is apparent, given its close partnerships with companies like Facebook and comScore. Facebook marketers can use Datalogix to show how Facebook advertising affects in-store sales. And comScore ties in-store transactions to digital impressions via Datalogix’s offline measurement tool DLX ROI and comScore Validated Campaign Essentials, respectively.
Now that Datalogix is off the market, who else could supply offline-to-online data linkages?
First, the retailers themselves have arguably the purest data because it comes straight from their point-of-sale systems.
Tesco’s data services arm, Dunnhumby (which is rumored also to be up for sale), harnesses Kroger and Tesco data from sales and loyalty card systems. Brick-and-mortars like Walmart wrangle in-store and online intent data, anonymize it and turn it into valuable insights for CPG suppliers who may wish, for example, to sell more soap to mothers in select geographies.
Then, there are measurement mainstays like Nielsen, which through a joint venture with Catalina Marketing develops tools to determine the effect of marketing exposures on sales transactions. Additionally, data providers like IHS Automotive (Polk), helps marketers improve customer loyalty based on auto sales forecasts, vehicle registration and dealer performance data.
The ability to connect online advertising with offline commerce – and vice versa – is a tremendous and in-demand capability. It’s why Dunnhumby dropped about $200 million on digital retargeting specialist Sociomantic in April, and why Google now ties AdWords campaigns to in-store conversions.
Additionally, both Nielsen and Adobe were reportedly in the running for Datalogix.
“Anyone who has a real source of transaction data (like Dunnhumby, Polk or Nielsen Catalina) suddenly becomes more interesting,” particularly if Oracle sunsets the Datalogix brand or insulates its capabilities, said Martin Kihn, research director at Gartner. He added that Apple Pay, should it take off, could be a data source alongside credit card companies with their wealth of first-party transactional data.