Oracle's next big business is selling your info

Oracle's next big business is selling your info

There’s a decent chance you're part of Oracle’s next big business. Not selling products to you, but selling you as a product. That's the idea behind t

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There’s a decent chance you’re part of Oracle’s next big business. Not selling products to you, but selling you as a product. That’s the idea behind the Oracle Data Cloud, a massive pool of information about consumers and companies.

The tech titan has put it together by tracking people across the web and buying data from a variety of sources. People who have their data included may not even know that they’ve opted in for that data collection.

There’s no big red button that someone has to click in order to be a part of the company’s data collection machine. Instead, its base of user data is fed by a network of third parties. The Data Cloud is primarily fed by three types of sources: publishers, like Forbes and Edmunds, retail loyalty programs, and traditional data brokers like Experian and IHS.

All of that adds up to a database of 5 billion consumer profiles, fed by 15 million data sources. Not every profile corresponds to a unique person — people can have multiple profiles — but Oracle has information on billions of people, according to Eric Roza, the vice president of Data Cloud. Using data science techniques, Oracle works to match activity from one browser to others, so companies can make sure the same ads get shown to people on their smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Oracle sees Data Cloud as a key part of its future. The service is being used to help advertisers and publishers better target ads, and it’s attractive to businesses because it’s not tied to a major advertising platform like Google’s or Facebook’s.

The Data Cloud also forms the foundation of machine learning features inside other Oracle software. One of the challenges for companies doing machine learning is getting data sets that are large enough to build accurate models, and Data Cloud can help solve that problem.

But the benefits are mostly borne by Oracle’s business customers, who stand to make more money as a result of using Data Cloud enhanced services. The boon to consumers whose data are being used is less defined.

Oracle isn’t alone in this sort of tracking. There are dozens of companies that exist for the sole purpose of collecting consumer data and then reselling that to other businesses. Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech titans have made big money from accumulating customer data and using it to sell ads.

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