Oracle Buys Audience Tracking Firm AddThis For Around $200M

Oracle continues to ramp up its business in the area of marketing tech. Today the enterprise software giant announced that it has acquired AddThis, which makes sharing features (i.e., those buttons on web pages that let you share stories or follow accounts on Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and audience tracking technology for online publishers and marketers. AddThis says it currently covers activity data for 1.9 billion monthly unique visitors and over 15 million mobile and desktop web domains.

Oracle and AddThis are not disclosing the terms of the deal, but we have been digging around, and sources with knowledge of the company tell us that it was in the region of $100 million to $200 million, closer to the latter.

(Inside baseball alert! One source suggested “$100 million+”; another said it was between $100 million and $200 million; and a third noted it’s closer to the higher end of the range. The discrepancy may be because of how the price is calculated, eg including earn outs, etc.)

The range makes some sense, considering similar valuations for competing startups like ShareThis. Founded in 2004 in Virginia, AddThis had raised $73 million from a large group of investors that included Steve Case (founder of Aol, owner of TechCrunch), Ted Leonsis, NEA, IVP, SV Angel and Novak Biddle.

The acquisition underscores a couple of bigger developments in the world of advertising and marketing tech.

The first of these is the growing role that Oracle is playing in this area. Oracle says that it will continue to serve existing clients of AddThis, but it is currently evaluating the future product roadmap. More concretely, AddThis will become a part of Oracle’s Data Cloud business, a division that also includes assets from two other recent Oracle acquisitions: BlueKai (advertising data) and Datalogix (marketing data).

Taken together, the technology and big data portfolios that Oracle has amassed in this division give the company a strong play for more business from brands and ad firms, as well as from online content companies that want better tools to make better sense of their audiences and to monetise them more effectively.

“Oracle Data Cloud is the fastest growing global Data as a Service (DaaS) business, operating the most accurate data ID Graph to enable understanding of consumer behavior across all media channels,” Omar Tawakol, SVP and GM, Oracle Data Cloud, noted in a letter to customers about the deal. “Oracle Data Cloud ingests third-party data, extracts value, and activates the data to drive insights and harness this knowledge for targeting, personalization and measurement. With the addition of AddThis, Oracle Data Cloud’s offering is expected to deliver unprecedented levels of audience insight, measurement and reach.”

Secondly, the deal points to a wider trend for consolidation in marketing tech and ad tech. While AddThis has been around for more than a decade, it’s interesting to see that it finally made the leap to join a bigger company.

AddThis and Oracle had already been working together prior to the acquisition, so it may have been one of those classic cases of two companies pairing up provisionally before making the leap to join forces more formally.

But more importantly, what a sale gives AddThis is automatic access to reach, capital and a wider suite of complementary technology that, had AddThis stayed independent, it would have had to built itself to remain competitive with others.

On its own, AddThis had developed some interesting, but also somewhat controversial, technology. One example, “canvas fingerprinting,” was being tested by AddThis last year as a potential replacement for cookies, by way of a digital image created by each browser to follow users wherever they went online.

As Pro Publica described it, canvas fingerprinting was “extremely persistent” and nearly impossible to block, raising concerns from privacy advocates. It’s not clear whether canvas fingerprinting is something that AddThis uses today, or whether Oracle plans to market the tech in future.

AddThis is Oracle’s 96th acquisition.

Additional reporting Anthony Ha.