Oracle comes out guns blazing against Adobe and Salesforce at Interact Conference

“Beware of false marketing clouds” intoned Kevin Akeroyd, general manager of Oracle Marketing Cloud as he delivered the opening keynote at Oracle Marketing Cloud’s Interact Conference yesterday. The screens behind him then displayed a smarmy looking salesman giving a thumbs up and displaying the logo for a “sales cloud,” complete with a white cloud, orange background and blue text.

It was a not-so-subtle dig at Salesforce, Oracle’s sworn enemy in the enterprise cloud space, and now one of its biggest competitors in marketing software.

“Our research shows customers prefer bright red compared to putrid orange or slime green,” said Akeroyd, referring of course to the logos of Oracle, Salesforce and Adobe respectively.

This is the first time we’re seeing such an aggressive tone from Oracle, especially in the enterprise marketing software space. The Interact Conference, taking place this week in San Francisco, is essentially an official release party for the Oracle Marketing Cloud, and it’s coming out swinging.

Oracle’s strategy in the marketing cloud race till now has been to buy itself the best toys. The company spent millions last year on acquiring several top rated marketing platforms such as Compendium, Eloqua and Responsys. However, it’s betting its competitive advantage on its latest acquisition, the customer data repository BlueKai.

“It all starts with data, without it, everything else is a unicorn,” said Akeroyd. “You need all the data including third party sources, email, social, and commerce.”

He added, “It’s not just going to come from your web analytics (referring to Adobe’s Omniture) or a contact database (referring to Salesforce.)”

Speaking to reporters in a Q&A session, Akeroyd also touted Oracle’s strength in content marketing. “We are the only player to make a major investment in a content marketing platform, in Compendium,” said Akeroyd. “And we’re the only ones who’ve made it native within our automation solutions.” 

It’s hard to argue against the quality of Oracle’s individual point solutions. Both Eloqua and Responsys are top rated marketing automation platforms in the B2B and B2C marketing spaces respectively, while BlueKai has long been the gold standard for accessing third party customer data. However, the real question is whether all those applications can be integrated to create a unified experience which delivers exponential value. And here’s where Oracle lags behind.

Despite its bluster, Oracle is still a latecomer to the marketing cloud party. Although it did reveal some progress in the integration process at the conference, it’s still a continuing struggle, given that most of the tools in the suite were only recently acquired.

Adobe might not have all the marquee solutions, but it is far ahead when it comes to integration. And last month, it announced the ability to integrate with several third-party customer data providers (including BlueKai,) which will power its predictive customer modelling. This gives it much of the same data advantage as Oracle. And while it may not have a pure content marketing solution, Adobe does have its Creative Cloud, which is pretty much the industry standard software suite when it comes to content creation.

Akeroyd admitted that being late to the marketing game made it challenging for Oracle to establish credibility in the space. “People give us credit for acquiring great brands, they’re skeptical about what Oracle’s going to do with them,” said Akeroyd. “That is our number one inhibitor.”

However, he said that despite the challenges, Oracle was doubling down on the Marketing Cloud. “If you watch our history, when we decide to get serious about a category, we go all in,” said Akeroyd. “And do we stay committed? Absolutely.”

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