On December 20, 2012, Oracle announced its intent to purchase marketing automation platform (MAP) provider Eloqua for $871 million, a 31 percent premium over the Eloqua share price on the day of the announcement. The deal should be completed in the first half of 2013. Oracle is sending out a “business as usual” message to outline its plans regarding the acquisition, at least in the short term.
I’d love nothing more than to sound the trumpet that this signals a revolution of sorts for MAPs, so that b-to-b marketers everywhere will no longer need to convince their organizations of the technology’s benefits and that adoption will rise exponentially. This is clearly an acquisition with major potential impact, but Oracle has a poor track record when it comes to capitalizing on its marketing technology acquisitions (anyone remember Market2Lead?). Oracle has already published supporting documents outlining what this deal means for customers. The company claims that Eloqua will be the cornerstone of Oracle Marketing Cloud, so I’ll keep my skepticism in check and give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being. One of the larger questions is: What does this mean for Eloqua customers from the perspective of SFA integration, since most Eloqua customers are using Salesforce, which competes directly with Oracle?
The big winners, besides Eloqua shareholders, are the other players in the marketing automation platform space, which will, no doubt, capitalize on the fear, uncertainty and doubt this acquisition brings to existing customers and those that are in the process of evaluating the technology. I’m guessing a lot of marketing messages are in development right now at Aprimo, Marketo, Silverpop and many of the other marketing automation platform providers. While the potential benefits of an integrated Oracle/Eloqua solution are compelling, particularly from a data perspective, many organizations prefer to work with an independent vendor that they believe would be more responsive to their needs. However, we expect most marketing automation platform providers will be purchased eventually by larger entities eventually, which would make this a moot point.
The bottom line? Right now, this is a win for Eloqua shareholders and for all the other marketing automation platform vendors. The long-term benefits for Oracle and Eloqua customers look good on paper, but we recommend that they start asking some hard questions regarding their options if they become uncomfortable with the reality of the revised roadmap for Eloqua’s technology and supporting services.
Jonathan Block is Vice President and Practice Director, Technology, at SiriusDecisions. He has developed key models and frameworks that enable b-to-b organizations to understand, evaluate and implement appropriate marketing and sales technologies, as well as advised executive clients on the role of technology to help drive sales and marketing integration and enterprise alignment. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jblock.