Acuity Pairs with Acxiom to Link Mobile and Offline Consumer Data

Mobile messaging platform Acuity Mobile has partnered with consumer data behemoth Acxiom Corporation to employ its third party consumer data to better target Acuity’s custom mobile marketing efforts.

Acuity delivers time- and location-based messages on behalf of advertiser clients to people who have opted in to receive them. Clients can now pair information from Acxiom’s database of consumer incomes, ages and purchase histories with information gathered by Acuity such as registration data, locations, and interactions with previous offers, to target advertiser communications.

Acuity Mobile provides its white-label platform, compatible with any mobile device or carrier, to clients in the hospitality industry, among others. “What we’re pursuing is organizations that have large affinity groups or loyalty programs,” said Acuity EVP and COO Gregg Smith. The largest of the opt-in mobile programs the firm operates on behalf of clients include less than 10,000 recipients each, according to Acuity.

As a result of the partnership, offers sent to an opt-in loyalty group from a Vegas hotel property could now include specific offers based on an individual’s income data provided by Acxiom, rather than targeting based only on registration data, location and interactions with previous messages. A high-paid consumer, for example, might receive an incentive to check out condo ownership opportunities, while a lower-income consumer could get a coupon for a $10 discount at the swim-up bar.

“As mobile content becomes more and more accepted, you want to make sure those ads are more and more effective,” said Alan Sultan, president of Acuity Mobile. The company’s messages can consist of text, audio and graphical content.

The two firms have worked together for the last couple months in a less official capacity. In addition to allowing access to Acxiom data for message targeting, the partnership makes Acuity the official mobile platform partner for the data company. Acxiom clients testing Acuity’s platform may also choose to combine data gleaned through their own mobile messaging campaigns to better target other types of campaigns, such as direct mail or e-mail, said Rob Petit, Acxiom’s industry strategist for the media and communications industries.

“This [partnership] is probably something that is fairly uncommon,” said Evan Neufeld, VP and senior analyst at mobile research firm M:Metrics, who said he isn’t aware of any similar publicly-announced pair-ups between mobile platform providers and a offline data firms. Still, he continued, such a partnership “is a little nascent in terms of where the marketplace is.”

Any time consumer data-related deals are done, privacy is a concern, and this case is no different. Acuity pointed to its opt-in system as a safeguard against offending message recipients or prompting security worries. However, Neufeld — alluding to the sticky situation DoubleClick got into when pairing its data with that of offline marketing firm Abacus Direct — suggested the opt-in process may not be enough.

He believes consumers will need to understand that their mobile data is being cross-referenced with Acxiom’s. “This medium, especially at this point in time, is going to have to exceed the standards of e-mail,” he said. Messages also should be perceived by recipients as especially high in value, to counteract privacy concerns and the possible cost to consumers to receive them, Neufeld added.

“There are a lot of nuances once you open that Pandora’s box,” he added.

Acuity earlier this month announced privacy consultant Alan Chapell joined its board and will serve as an executive advisor on privacy issues for the company.

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