IBM vs. Oracle: Who’s winning readers?

Allison Horton

February 22nd, 2023

There are few business battles as classic as IBM and Oracle in the enterprise software space. As the three major cloud providers face off for consumer and enterprise budgets, incumbents IBM and Oracle still retain their real estate in enterprise balance sheets.

The two giants have a combined market cap of over $350 billion. Oracle’s current stock price sits in the $80s and IBM’s in the $130s. But we asked ourselves, who’s winning from a comms perspective? We studied IBM and Oracle’s press coverage over a 3-month period (Nov. 2022-Jan. 2023), and uncovered some surprising findings. Spoiler alert: just looking at clips counts and impressions could be misleading.

Coverage Volume Presents an Even Race

Tracking from a media list of the top 400 publications in the US, share-of-voice between IBM and Oracle based on volume and impressions was roughly a 50/50 split. Here’s the number breakdown:

  • IBM mentions: 5,156 articles, 209.8 billion impressions
  • Oracle mentions: 4,634 articles, 175.2 billion impressions

Based on volume, IBM has a 52.7% market share of earned media coverage, narrowly edging out Oracle’s 47.3% – still about a 50/50 split. Looking at impressions, IBM’s lead extends by over 35 billion, or 54% share-of-voice by impressions compared to Oracle’s 46%.

Just looking at volume or impressions doesn’t reveal much in terms of how the two enterprise IT giants stack up from a PR perspective. If anything, it shows that the two remain a pretty even match. If you’re Oracle (or IBM for that matter), this doesn’t leave you with much direction other than just keep doing what you’re doing. That’s because both volume and impression metrics treat all press equally. Counting all articles equally, even if from the same publication, can mask critical indicators of competitor performance.

Readership Uncovers a Much Different Story

To more accurately compare the two, we compared readership. How many people are actually reading about the two brands in what we call, Share of Readership (SOR).

The 5,125 articles mentioning IBM accrued a total of 24,585,252 readers across 230 publications. Oracle’s 4,618 articles, however, were read a total of 34,375,961 times across 253 publications. When it came to actual eyeballs on coverage, Oracle attracted 16% more readership than IBM.

Oracle had a SOR of about 58% whereas IBM had a SOR of about 42%, painting a much different picture for the 3-month period. This also prompts deeper insights: what topics, publications, and reporters are attracting higher readership? What can IBM do to close the gap? What can Oracle do to optimize their efforts and extend their lead?

Optimizing for Readership

Looking at coverage trends based on volume and impressions only tells you part of the story, and sometimes it’s not even the important part. It’s impossible to know if impressions or coverage volume signal any significant trends for your brand.

Knowing what topics, reporters, and publications attract the most readers for your brand can help you increase efficiency when it comes to media relations. IBM accrued more overall coverage. Imagine if that coverage was in publications driving maximum readership? Does Oracle know what topics are driving the most readers? Are they telling stories to press that people don’t read? Coverage volume doesn’t indicate impact, in fact it could mislead comms teams completely. A note for IBM – start optimizing your media strategy for readership and you may just out message your biggest competitor.

Learn more about Memo’s approach to comms measurement.

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