Acxiom Makes A Living Marketing Decades of Data

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Nov. 7, 2011 12:00 am  

Acxiom Corp. of Little Rock has data on 98 percent of the U.S. population.

Acxiom Corp. is one of Arkansas' bigger but lesser understood businesses.

Its power is visually obvious in its multistory headquarters in downtown Little Rock, and most locals know that it is in the marketing business - mailing lists and the like - even though Arkansans are more likely to sell to Acxiom than buy services from it.

But what does Acxiom actually do in exchange for more than a billion dollars a year?

"The way we characterize it, we have coverage and information on 98 percent of the U.S. adult population," said David Danziger, who works in Memphis as director of Acxiom's consumer targeting and append products.

These days, according to Danziger, about 70 percent of the company's revenue comes from marketing services, including collecting and selling personal information. The "append" in Danziger's title refers to the appending, or attaching, of consumer information to Acxiom client data.(And the other 30 percent? Click here.)

Acxiom, which began in 1969 as a politically oriented direct-mail service called Demographics Inc., has been building a database of that information for the last 20 years, and it now extends to other countries like China, France and Brazil.

Whether you know Acxiom or not, odds are Acxiom knows you. And it sells information about you to companies that range from small to very large.

"The bulk of Acxiom's business comes from helping marketers make better decisions about how they approach customers and prospects," Danziger said. "We're providing data and information, and managing information for our clients to help them do that."

Acxiom helps companies with significant marketing budgets hone their advertising to specific markets. The company remains mum on its clients' identities, but CEO Scott Howe recently mentioned a multiyear contract with Harley-Davidson Motor Co. and described agreements with credit card providers, retail banks, an automotive manufacturer and a magazine company.

In August, British media giant Guardian News & Media signed on as a client.

Many of Acxiom's clients are huge businesses, and the loss of a single client can be a significant hit. Acxiom's revenue is sensitive to the business cycle, and its profitability even more so.

Acxiom's job is a challenge when some clients aren't sure how to reach their markets, or don't recognize their core demographic.



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