Oracle Acquires Crosswise As The The Cross-Device Acquisition Drumbeat Grows

OracleCrosswiseWith Oracle’s acquisition of Israeli cross-device vendor Crosswise on Thursday, the number of independent cross-device vendors is getting thin on the ground.

Although Oracle declined to comment or disclose details around the transaction, The Times of Israel reported a deal price in the neighborhood of $50 million, citing a source with knowledge of the matter. Based in Tel Aviv, Crosswise had raised $5 million in funding since it was founded in July 2014.

There is a clear rationale behind the move, said Melissa Parrish, VP and principal analyst at Forrester.

“Oracle has already built and acquired several companies from various pieces of the marketing data and customer insights ecosystem,” Parrish said. “Adding Crosswise to bolster and broaden their device graph is a logical thing to do.”

A look under Oracle Data Cloud’s hood reveals a multipronged hybrid approach that combines deterministic data and probabilistic data in an effort to solve for cross-device identity.

The first few prongs are derived, all via acquisitions, through a cocktail of first- and third-party data from BlueKai; offline sales info from Datalogix; and social data from AddThis. A partnership with Tapad helps make the connections and provides probabilistic scale.

But then Tapad was acquired by Norwegian telco Telenor in early February. It’s unclear what impact that acquisition has on Tapad’s work with Oracle, but it could arguably cause Oracle to reevaluate its relationships and may have factored into its decision to buy some probabilistic device graph tech of its own.

Deterministic data is preferable, but the need for scale is real.

“We’re constantly disappointed at the number of users logged in across devices,” observed Omar Tawakol, SVP and GM of Oracle Data Cloud, in a previous conversation with AdExchanger. “It’s relatively small, even at the big retailers.”

From that perspective, Oracle’s move makes perfect sense – but with a caveat, said Offer Yehudai, president and co-founder of Inneractive.

“Oracle is moving in the right direction of collecting every piece of information and enabling marketers to make informed decisions – it’s a matter of scale, especially in mobile, which correlates with Oracle’s acquisition strategy,” Yehudai said. “But as marketers gain more power and knowledge, publishers feel left out and seek control. We will soon see audience-driven PMPs where publishers can command higher CPMs and get to keep their data.”

Crosswise’s technology works by ingesting large amounts of non-personally identifiable data, including signals such as location, IP address, interest info and the apps people have on their phone. Then its algorithm looks for patterns in the data that indicate cross-device connections.

The company maintains no brand direct relationships, working instead with technology companies that include The Trade Desk, RadiumOne, Neustar, Marin Software, Eyeview, Digilant, Undertone and Turn.

Media buying was pointedly not part of the solution.

“If you’re looking for an end-to-end solution that includes media and reporting, we’re not the company for you,” Crosswise CEO and co-founder Steve Glantz previously told AdExchanger.

Oracle said in a statement that “the addition of Crosswise further broadens the Oracle ID Graph,” but an industry source indicated to AdExchanger there was scuttlebut that the ultimate goal is to shut Crosswise down.

There is, however, an argument for keeping the Crosswise tech going as a complement to the overall stack, said Craig Hughes, director of business development at Unruly. In any case, its offering always made more sense as a “feature rather than a standalone,” he said.

“I wouldn’t think they’re buying it for the revenue stream, but rather for the capability,” Hughes said.

Regardless of the particulars in this case, the move is representative of a growing need in the industry, said Keith Petri, newly appointed chief strategy officer at cross-device vendor Screen6.

“This is justifying the interest and the need to solve this problem,” Petri said. “Almost every conversation I’m hearing at PROGRAMMATIC IO, for example, has an underlying theme that comes back to the importance of understanding identity across channels and devices, whether that’s targeting or attribution or frequency capping or dynamic creative in regards to sequencing.”

What’s also clear is that cross-device players are ripe for the picking, Parrish said.

“Once Tapad was acquired, it was just a matter of time before we saw more M&A activity,” she said. “Going forward, the most interesting thing to me will be who the acquirers are and what industries they’re in. Telecom? Big tech? Major publishers? Practically anybody could benefit.”

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