Acxiom Returning to Conway Roots

by Sarah Campbell  on Monday, Apr. 17, 2017 12:00 am  

Acxiom Corp. has narrowed its focus and is evolving into a different company, CEO Scott Howe says.

“We’re becoming a different kind of Acxiom, with the best of the old but a lot of really new, exciting stuff,” he said in a recent interview. “Over time, I’d like to think we stop becoming the marketing company and increasingly become the data company that is effective in marketing, in health care, in insurance and B2B supply chain.”

The evolution includes the sale last month of Acxiom’s Little Rock headquarters, which was never fully occupied, and plans to renovate its original campus in Conway.

The company also hopes to expand its client base. “Any industry that needs to collect, ingest, interpret and activate data is an industry that, long term, we intend to serve,” Howe said.

And since data involves everything these days, that intention has the potential to fuel growth.

Howe compared the firm as it is now to Amazon in 1996. Amazon had built a great infrastructure to sell books. Now it’s an online retail giant selling just about anything.

He said Acxiom built its data infrastructure for one purpose: to sell marketing services. But the same infrastructure that solves complex marketing problems could be used to solve complex problems in other industries where a lot of data is available, but in separate silos.

Howe gave the example of enabling medical records housed at different doctors’ offices to follow the patient from doctor to doctor instead.

He hopes to please shareholders with revenue growth of more than 10 percent this year, compared with the 1.5 to 2 percent annual growth Acxiom has seen over the past five years.

His plans include continuing to gain both direct clients — very large companies that Acxiom assigns teams to work with — and indirect clients. Those clients, which Acxiom didn’t have five years ago, are businesses that use sites like Facebook to purchase targeted advertising that runs on Acxiom’s data infrastructure.

Howe said gains in indirect clients have fueled a boom, with Acxiom adding more clients in the last two years than in the previous 10 years combined.

As it’s shifting to doing more, the company has also narrowed its focus to three segments: marketing services, audience solutions and connectivity.



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