Universal tags streamline database searches

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Linking and integrating databases would be a lot simpler if there were a single universal identifier for every person and every physical address.

Acxiom, Conway, Ark., is now offering such an identifier, which it calls an AcxiKey. It's part of an online database product called InfoBase introduced in February 1998.

"We can provide basic contact information to telemarketers and direct mail, but it's also used extensively for internal analyses, overlaying a customer database and loyalty campaigns," says product leader Louis Rolleigh.

Clients can send customer databases to Acxiom and get back a database of prospects matching those customers' characteristics. For databases with just a few hundred thousand records, this can be done online through the Acxiom Data Network, Mr. Rolleigh says. That service is called InfoBase Enhancement.

Permanent identifiers

AcxiKeys are unique identifiers for every individual and address in the nation, Mr. Rolleigh says. They act as index terms in the company's own databases, making searches more efficient.

Acxiom is adding its AcxiKeys to the reports it generates, and is urging its customers to integrate them into their own databases as index terms.

"This is a permanent identifier, so when someone moves, this stays with them," Mr. Rolleigh says, adding that AcxiKeys will become the core of Acxiom's internal data architecture. "If our customers had this key on their customer file, they could use that to link to our data repository."

Mr. Rolleigh says he hopes AcxiKeys can take the place of Social Security numbers, which consumers are often reluctant to divulge, in database marketing applications. Traditionally, Axciom has worked with large companies, but its Axciom Data Network puts the technology within the reach of smaller businesses, says product leader Mike Wallis.

"This lets us offer Fortune 500 services to all tiers of the marketplace," he says. "Customers subscribe to the service, and this allows them to access a database with demographics, lifestyle data and other data."

Brad Harris, a business unit leader in the Axciom Data Network Development Group, says, "Using AcxiKeys would let customers access our data more efficiently, and allow them to look at their customers across multiple databases."

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