Today’s Wall Street Journal story on Acxiom’s broadening use of online and offline data is an important story. As we noted to Journal reporters, Acxiom has been acquiring behavioral targeting firms to broaden its reach. Last month, Acxiom took over EchoTarget, a “re-targeting and behavioral network.” Acxiom, said Greg Smith (former EchoTarget CEO and now an Acxiom honcho), “recognized” that “clients are really taking BT [behavioral targeting] seriously.” Here Acxiom’s vision for its future, according to Rich Howe, chief marketing and strategy officer [my italics]:
“We can go to our clients that are looking to tie all their marketing programs in a single platform. The largest clients we deal with have these large marketing data warehouses that are already built, and large investments made, and they want to fully monetize that by including the digital capabilities. You are not going to do away with direct mail. It will continue to be a big part of the spend for big customers. We can complement all of the techniques you have had in that world with the other channels like email and search and Web site optimization, and of course trying to leverage display advertising as a means to build product or just sell products. It is multichannel play. That is the game we are playing.”
Yesterday, Acxiom officially unveiled, according to MediaPost, [my italics] “its Relevance-X products designed to allow marketers to make online media buys using an ad network targeting specific customer segments based on their predictive lifestyle and purchase intent profiles. “We’re really excited about this,” said Rich Howe, Acxiom’s chief marketing and strategy officer. “We’re bringing our knowledge and experience in direct marketing to the online channels to give clicks context–going far beyond basic information such as age, gender and household income to include the attitudes, beliefs and lifestyles of consumers that are much more predictive.”
Acxiom also acquired last Spring a company called Kefta, which it called “the leader in real-time, dynamic personalization solutions for the Internet.” Here’s a another quote from the Acxiom release on the deal [our italics]: “Keftaâ€™s dynamic targeting solution delivers timely, relevant content to website visitors based on their unique online behavior and individual characteristics, thereby helping marketers boost response, revenues and customer loyalty. By recognizing and responding to the different needs of customers online, Kefta helps marketers deliver relevant and personalized marketing messages in real time on websites, search engines, banners and e-mails.”
In a 2007 “white paper” titled “Creating High-Precision Marketing Intelligence with Consumer-Centric Analytics,” Acxiom explains that its “integrated consumer information management” approach includes access to [my italics] “Real-time data â€” Real-time interactions with consumers (reflected in â€œhand-raising signalsâ€ such as in-bound calls, requests for information, responses to e-mail campaigns and on-line search/research click-stream data) that is captured from across an enterprise and analyzed further deepens the ability to understand specific consumers and to predict future behavior. Acxiom ConnectionPoint-XTM provides this real-time capability to fuse these behavioral signals about consumersâ€™ interests or demand with a consumer information database.”
Meanwhile, the Journal story says that Acxiom “briefed the FTC on its targeting plans and the regulators didn’t raise significant objections.” The FTC spokesperson cited in the story suggested that wasn’t true. We need to know what exactly was presented to the FTC by Acxiom and what, if anything, was said by the FTC. But it does illustrate one of our core concerns. The FTC has to face the facts about the new realities and threats to our privacy from data collection and interactive marketing. The FTC has to act now and protect consumers.
PS: Just a FYI for EU privacy officials & advocates. Your data is being analyzed by Acxiom as well. Here’s a press release excerpt: “Axiom(R) Corporation today announced the introduction of an enhanced consumer segmentation solution that will allow marketers to grow their business through a better understanding of their consumers within a country coupled with the ability to compare those consumers across countries. The new solution, Personicx(R) International, results from the combination of Acxiom’s customer data management expertise and the extensive data assets attained when Acxiom acquired Claritas Europe and Consodata last year. Bruce Carroll, Acxiom’s Strategic Development Leader explained the difference Personicx International will bring to marketers: “Traditionally, marketers rely on country-specific demographics and geodemographic systems such as Acxiom’s Personicx product. These solutions are optimised to perform within a given country and as a result do not allow for effective comparison of consumers between countries. Personicx International changes that… The new system is being made available internationally starting with the U.K., Germany, France, Spain, the U.S., Poland, the Netherlands, and Portugal and underlines Acxiom’s intentions following the acquisitions it has made over the last 18 months. “Creating Personicx International would not have been possible without access to the large data assets we now have,” Kevin Zaffaroni, Acxiom’s Leader for Europe, Asia and Australia, said. “We’re taking existing information but using new approaches to help marketers do things and achieve results that just weren’t possible before.”