Insight Bite: Oracle buys Grapeshot in a bid to boost brand safety offerings

Grapeshot, the British marketing technology startup, has been acquired by Oracle. Grapeshot’s technology provides a solution to a pertinent problem of online advertising: how to prevent a company’s ads from being featured alongside materials they’d rather not be associated with.

Billed as “brand safety”, Grapeshot helps agencies, publishers, platforms and brands to better match their ads to the content on the page. The Cambridge-based startup had a turnover of £9 million in 2016 and operating losses of almost £2 million. Deal value was not disclosed, but reports place it between $150-240 million. Oracle said that Grapeshot already works with more than 5,000 marketers, processing 38 billion programmatic ad impressions each month.

Oracle will roll the startup into its existing offerings, specifically Oracle Data Cloud, where it will be put to work within the Audience and Measurement area. Oracle said the deal would “close the loop” in its marketing offerings, referring to the ad-tracking business, Moat, that it acquired last year.

“The acquisition of Grapeshot will dramatically expand Oracle Data Cloud’s ability to improve marketing outcomes for our partners worldwide by adding the important dimension of Context to Oracle Data Cloud’s expertise in Audiences and Measurement,” Oracle said in a statement.

The deal fits nicely into the trends for advertising tech and marketing tech, where programmatic advertising has become the norm. However automating this process has also sometimes led to odd pairings, as was the case recently when YouTube had to intervene to stop ads being inadvertently shown alongside videos promoting white nationalism and conspiracy theories. CNN reports that several major brands paused their advertisement with YouTube after the incident, and the matter has not becoming any simpler to maneuver with the strengthening of data protection laws. The YouTube incident is just one example that illustrates the market value of a solution to this problem, meaning Oracle made a very good call on this deal.

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