Oracle buys Eloqua for marketing software in $871 million deal

The move follows Oracle's purchase of Buddy Media and will shore up its defenses against Salesforce.com

Oracle has agreed to acquire Eloqua for about $871 million, in a bid to build out a set of marketing automation software.

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Eloqua's board has approved the deal and it is expected to close in the first half of next year, Oracle said Thursday.

Earlier this year, Oracle announced a new product initiative centered on "customer experience." A relatively new term in the CRM (customer relationship management) software arena, customer experience refers to the notion of providing a much more personalized approach to marketing and support, particularly through the use of social media.

The Eloqua deal builds upon Oracle's previous acquisitions of Vitrue and RightNow. Oracle is closely competing with cloud CRM vendor Salesforce.com, which has made similar acquisitions of social media marketing technologies.

Modern marketing practices are "a critical area of investment for companies today," said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president of Oracle Development, in a statement. "Eloqua's leading marketing automation cloud will become the centerpiece of the Oracle Marketing Cloud."

Using Eloqua's technology, "customers are better able to track, capture and analyze a potential buyer's Digital Body Language, including their preferences, behavior and decision-making processes, to more accurately score and qualify leads and identify high quality prospects," Oracle said in a FAQ document on the acquisition.

After the deal's close, Eloqua's platform will remain open to third-party applications, although Oracle "also expects to augment Eloqua with Oracle applications and technologies to engineer more complete customer solutions," according to the FAQ.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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