LiveRamp: Acxiom's $310M Silver Bullet

by Luke Jones  on Monday, May. 26, 2014 12:00 am  

Scott Howe

Acxiom Corp. announced earlier this month that it had purchased LiveRamp, a tech company that started in 2011 in San Francisco.

At $310 million, it’s a huge purchase for the Little Rock data miner, which had revenue just shy of $1.1 billion in the fiscal year that ended March 31.

So why would Acxiom pay so much for a little California startup?

It all goes back to Acxiom’s newest product, the Audience Operating System.

The company launched AOS late last year, touting it as the future of the company’s data mining products. However, CEO Scott Howe told analysts after the company’s latest earnings report that there was big demand for AOS, but Acxiom was having a hard time getting consumer information into the system.

This is where LiveRamp comes in.

LiveRamp deals in what’s called customer relationship management, or CRM, data. While much data used in targeted advertising comes from Internet searches and other areas, CRM data comes from a potentially more reliable source: offline.

Specifically, CRM comes from physical interactions with companies: buying products, complaining about them, returning them and so forth. Brands that keep CRM databases are able to turn that data into marketing campaigns.

However, these campaigns have been limited to direct mail and email marketing. According to LiveRamp, CRM data has for years been hindered from moving into the greater online space for both practical and ethical reasons. What LiveRamp did was design software that would remove those practical limitations and supposedly the ethical ones as well.

LiveRamp refers to this service as “data onboarding.” Here’s how it works:

First, a company gives LiveRamp its CRM data, which comes tied to email and/or postal addresses.

Then, LiveRamp waits for users to log on to certain websites —Twitter, for example — with which it’s partnered. If a consumer matching the CRM data logs in, a “match” occurs. LiveRamp says it discards “personal identifiable information” at this point.



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