SANTA BARBARA — It takes a pretty seismic change for a company to sell its core, to focus only on a part that it later acquired.
But that’s what ad-tech Acxiom – a data warehouse firm that sells consumer profiles to the world’s largest companies, available to advertisers and ad-tech platforms for advanced customer targeting – is doing when it is due to complete the sale of its Acxiom Marketing Solutions (AMS) division to the Interpublic Group (IPG) agency today.
The deal leaves Acxiom focusing on LiveRamp, which is more fixed on letting brands use their own customer data in ad targeting than just buying in consumer data sets.
After two years in which both agencies and tech vendors have been accused of a host of misdeeds, LiveRamp CEO Scott Howe says the sell-off means: “We’re now absolutely completely neutral.”
In this video interview with Beet.TV, Howe says: “(We are) now going to be armed with a really attractive balance sheet, which is going to allow us to accelerate innovation at LiveRamp, go win more clients, do more integrations.”
Acxiom has faced challenges. Earlier this year, Facebook said it would shut Partner Categories, through which it allowed advertisers to target ads using customer profiles bought from data brokers like Acxiom. Meanwhile, Europe’s GDPR has introduced more stringent controls on the levels of consent required to process consumer data in this way.
Now Howe is focusing on letting marketers unleash the power within the customer data they already have, rather than just buying in customer data segments to stitch together.
“To make every experience relevant … you need to activate those interactions with consumers with data,” he says. “But, for too long it’s been just too difficult to do. There was no easy button for activating data.
“What LiveRamp has done is, they’ve gone and integrated all of the world’s data providers, linked that data to all of the world’s people, and then in turn, link that to built connections to all of the world’s use cases.”
That goes even for TV advertising, as LiveRamp enables the use of marketer data in addressable, OTT and linear ad campaigns.
AMS’ sale to IPG comes in at $2.3 billion, for which IPG just raised $2 billion. The exercise has pleased some financial analysts, who see the move as facilitating a stock performance that has grown despite what some saw as threats early in 2018.
And Howe is keen to stress the new Acxiom understands the importance of privacy.
“At both Acxiom and LiveRamp, we are huge proponents of having federal privacy legislation,” he says. “At the heart of all privacy legislation is an intent to be transparent with consumers, ensure that data is ethically sourced, and give people better visibility and control over how their data is utilized. That’s a good thing. It’s a good thing for businesses, it’s a good thing for consumers.”
This video is part of a series leading up to, and covering the Xandr Relevance Conference in Santa Barbara. For more videos from the series, please visit this page. This Beet.TV program is sponsored by Xandr, a unit of AT&T.