Data Frenemies Emerge as Demand to Move Offline Data to the Web Grows

Acxiom's LiveRamp Is Moving More Customer Records Online Than Ever, Leased New SF Digs

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It's no wonder 2014 brought major consolidation to the nascent sector helping companies move their offline data to the web. Business appears to be booming, two of the most prominent newly-acquired firms in the space -- Acxiom-owned LiveRamp and Oracle's Datalogix -- are hiring, and Acxiom recently signed a lease on a larger office space to house LiveRamp and parent company staff in San Francisco.

Following an announcement touting an extension of the tie-up between "data onboarding" providers Datalogix and LiveRamp, Acxiom told Advertising Age it is moving far more offline customer records to digital compared to mere months ago -- 5 billion per month compared to around 3 billion in March.

The partners on Monday announced an agreement to extend their relationship through the end of 2017. Datalogix uses LiveRamp to turn first-party client data along with other audience-segment data into information it can use to find those same people in digital media.

"LiveRamp is currently moving more than 5 billion records per month and we've just signed a lease for a bigger office in San Francisco to accommodate the rapidly growing team," said Acxiom CEO Scott Howe in an email interview with Ad Age.

The data services giant agreed to buy LiveRamp for $310 million in May, and completed the acquisition in July. Mr. Howe declined to say the location of the new office. According to LinkedIn, LiveRamp has seven open job positions in the bay area city.

The Oracle deal to scoop up Datalogix is fresher. Oracle, which attempted to enhance the capabilities of its marketing-automation software platform through acquisitions of data-management platform BlueKai, agreed to pick up Datalogix in December for an undisclosed amount.

LiveRamp added "roughly 20 new customers" in the second quarter of 2014, according to Mr. Howe, who said the company served around 115 onboarding customers by the end of that quarter. New onboarding clients are using LiveRamp for campaign attribution and audience targeting, the two main purposes of moving offline data to the web.

"Overall, momentum is definitely growing as an increasing number of companies are realizing that offline-to-online onboarding underpins almost everything that advanced marketers want to do to achieve 1:1 marketing and measurement at scale," noted Mr. Howe.

LiveRamp and Datalogix have been considered rivals in the past, but the partnership extension only reaffirms how nuanced their services are, and highlights the co-opetition that pervades the data industry. Datalogix would not reveal any details on business growth for this story; however the firm did say it uses LiveRamp as one of multiple sources feeding into its cookie-matching pool. Datalogix is growing by one indication: the company is hiring for six positions listed on Linkedin including a CPG client partner and a senior analyst.

The extension of the LiveRamp-Datalogix relationship reflects a commitment stressed by Mr. Howe in May to turning Acxiom into a standard, agnostic platform for marketing data. "Someone needs to emerge as Switzerland," he told Ad Age at the time of the LiveRamp buy.

Complete neutrality could be tricky for all players though. As Forrester Research Principal Analyst Fatemeh Khatibloo wrote in a quick assessment of the Oracle acquisition of Datalogix last month, "We can't envision a scenario where it makes sense for a firm with the data and technology stack that Oracle is building to retain an open data platform. Still, even if Oracle is committed to this vision, it's unlikely that competing firms like Acxiom, Adobe, and Epsilon will share their agnostic values, which means that access to Datalogix's data could be limited for non-Oracle clients."