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What Acxiom "Hash" Figured Out

  |  May 21, 2014   |  Comments

With its acquisition of LiveRamp, a provider of data onboarding services, Acxiom is helping to usher in the age of the addressable consumer.

Data onboarding is nothing new.

Database marketing companies, like Acxiom, have been "onboarding data" for more than 100 years. InfoGroup does it. Experian does it. iBehavior does it. Epsilon does it. Everyone in the compiled-data business does it, to one extent or another.

But what we onboard and why, changed - and these changes created new opportunities.

The fragmented attention of consumers - caused by the proliferation of devices, services, and browsers - suddenly makes data-onboarding services a hot commodity.

Marketers are starting to realize that CRM data - specifically the hash of the email address - is an amazing cross-device, cross-platform, cross-browser key that unlocks incredible reach capabilities in the interactive sphere.

Which is why data onboarding is "hot," and why Acxiom is onboarding LiveRamp.

Last week, Acxiom Corporation made the impulsive - but, in hindsight, highly logical - $310 million acquisition of LiveRamp, a leading provider of data onboarding services. It was a super prudent, preemptive move.

Founded in 2012 by Auren Hoffman, LiveRamp was spun out of RapLeaf, its predecessor data-aggregation service. Since that time, with a little bit of help from some big companies and big trends, such as mobile device usage and growth, LiveRamp caught lightning in a bottle.

But smart entrepreneurs like Hoffman see around corners. He saw beyond the mobile boom, to where it was leading, allowing LiveRamp to get ahead of another strong secular trend in marketing: the ability to break email data out of the prison of the first-party newsletter and use it to reach customers in Web display.

By bringing email data onboard via hash-matching, LiveRamp customers can reach their subscribers outside their first-party newsletters - where they have open rates averaging perhaps 20 percent - and find these subscribers where they are paying attention elsewhere, in audience exchanges like Facebook (Custom Audience), Twitter (Tailored Audience), and, of course, email newsletter-based ad exchanges.

What makes this an ideal solution is that you are your same email address - or addresses - no matter what device or service you use. So by working with LiveRamp to verify matches using the hash of the email address, marketers can reach you across devices, browsers, and services. This overcomes many of the technical challenges of tracking cookies. Cookie-tracking came on the scene in the single-PC, single-browser, no-mobile world of 1994, and simply wasn't designed for matching users across devices and browsers.

Up until now, the newest thing about Acxiom might have been Scott Howe's vigorous push of AOS - Acxiom's Audience Operating System - in light of the challenges presented by mobile. And without LiveRamp, AOS might have been just another data management platform (DMP) service, albeit one paired with an email service provider (ESP).

But adding LiveRamp changes all of that. By its smart acquisition of LiveRamp, Acxiom is helping to usher in the age of the addressable consumer. And you'll get better ads and content for it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Hendricks

As president of LiveIntent, Dave Hendricks devises corporate strategies and tries to simplify marketing language. Before growing LiveIntent, Dave was executive vice president (EVP) of operations at PulsePoint (then known as Datran Media), where he worked alongside LiveIntent chief executive (CEO) Matt Keiser and ran Datran's ESP StormPost (nka PostUp). A member of the founding executive team at ExperianCheetahMail, Dave began his email adventure at Pioneering ESP MessageMedia. Dave was named one of Business Insider's "Top 100 Technologists" in 2011 and Alley Watch claimed he was one of 15 people "changing advertising" in 2014. He plays electric guitar and you should follow him on Twitter @davehendricks.

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