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Acxiom Poached Three Merkle Execs to Grow Global Data Team

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Rick Erwin, Acxiom
Rick Erwin, Acxiom Credit: Acxiom
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Data giant Acxiom is expanding its team dedicated to helping clients employ data seamlessly across geographic boundaries. That expansion has been facilitated by three execs who joined from the global data solutions group at its rival Merkle.

Data-centric marketing consultancy Merkle was acquired by agency powerhouse Dentsu Aegis in August, and with acquisitions often come a staff exodus. So it's likely no coincidence that two of Acxiom's new hires joined from Merkle that month. Chandos Quill, now VP-global data and strategic partnerships at Acxiom, came to Merkle from another of the world's largest data services firms, Experian, in 2011. Most recently at Merkle, Ms. Chandos was VP-digital and global data solutions.

Karen Caulfield also moved to Acxiom in August, joining as VP-audience solutions in the global data group. She served as Merkle's global data solutions leader from 2010 through May 2016.

As part of Acxiom's larger Global Data Team, the two are led by Marc Fanelli, Acxiom's most recent score from Merkle, where he had been since 2008. Mr. Fanelli joined Acxiom as global VP-audience solutions in October. As a testament to how specialized data work serving marketers can be, he, like Ms. Quill, joined Merkle after a stint at Experian.

Acxiom and competitors such as Merkle, Neustar and Oracle are all in a race to build the platforms, data products and related services to help marketers identify and communicate with consumers across media channels. Acxiom wants its ability to identify and market to consumers to be what it calls a "a borderless experience," hence, the investment in its Global Data Team, which is an extension of Acxiom's Global Audience Solutions division.

"As the world's economy becomes a data economy, marketers are overwhelmed with how much data there is and how to find it and put it to use for more relevant marketing," said Rick Erwin, president and general manager, Audience Solutions at Acxiom, in an email sent to Ad Age.

"Twenty years ago, Acxiom would have done that by utilizing the resources in each country where we had a presence but the explosion of data makes that no longer feasible," he continued. "This team makes it possible for marketers anywhere in the world to access data anywhere in the world, and they do that by assisting and working with the Acxiom teams in those parts of the world to make that a reality."

Marketers' desire to streamline data gathering and use into something more holistic and unconfined by barriers defined on the map certainly will be encumbered by sweeping new data privacy regulations set to take effect across Europe in May 2018. The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation will require companies that don't already have a direct opt-in relationship with consumers to get explicit consent from them when using their data or transferring certain forms of consumer data across borders.

"This team is designed to be able to handle any technical, logistical or content related issues that come with accessing and using marketing data around the world," said Mr. Erwin in the email.

In a separate statement about the global data team expansion, he said, "I want to the highlight the significant advantage when working with Acxiom's products and solutions because of our 'ethical data use' methodology that accounts for data protection rules, cross-border requirements and appropriate uses of data for delivering a borderless experience."

Merkle confirmed that the three recent Acxiom hires had left, but declined to comment for this story.