Why Acxiom Killed AOS and Used LiveRamp Name for New Platform

Acxiom Admits Missteps in AOS Branding

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Scott Howe
Scott Howe

Acxiom is restarting its Audience Operating System. The company will ditch the AOS name and instead label a new ad data offering combining AOS and its LiveRamp technology as LiveRamp Connect. The aligned platform will bring customer data gathered offline into programmatic ad exchanges, media platforms and other systems enabling mobile and addressable TV targeting.

"We have merged the lines of code into a single offering," said Acxiom CEO Scott Howe.

Acxiom bought LiveRamp last May for around $310 million, building on its efforts to provide a tech-agnostic platform enabling clients to connect their offline data to the web. LiveRamp turns consumer data gathered by companies offline -- through purchase transactions, telephone interactions and elsewhere -- into information that can be used to find those same consumers or people with similar characteristics in digital channels.

Many clients using LiveRamp do so to measure the impact of digital ads -- served in channels such as mobile or on Facebook -- on in-store purchases, said Travis May, 27-year-old LiveRamp co-founder and senior VP of products at Acxiom. The LiveRamp business serves almost 200 customers, he added.

Acxiom chose to sunset the short-lived AOS brand in part because the company concluded it wasn't playing well in the marketplace, particularly among potential partners. "In some respects the LiveRamp brand is more descriptive and more powerful than AOS," said Mr. Howe. He acknowledged problems with the AOS brand, which, by employing the term "operating system" suggested to observers that Acxiom aimed to be at the center of ad targeting operations, rather than a neutral backend platform that multiple partners could tap into.

"That was one of our missteps," Mr. Howe said, noting that partners perceived the Acxiom product as a potential threat. "A DSP thought we were being a DSP. BlueKai thought we were being a DMP," he said. "It probably alienated some of the partners we wanted to empower."

Another shift: Acxiom has restructured its sales team. "We didn't need to have two separated and siloed sales operations" to sell LiveRamp Connect, Mr. Howe said. The company has merged the former AOS sales and product teams into the LiveRamp sales team.

Acxiom Chief Revenue Officer and Exec VP Nada Stirratt will leave the firm at the end of March, signaling a move towards centering the position around project consulting. According to Mr. Howe, the company has identified a shortlist of candidates to fill the position. "We're looking for someone with a bit more experience in terms of deep consulting and problem solving," he said, adding that Acxiom aims to find her replacement within the next three months. The company is working with Hendrick and Struggles in the executive search.

Acxiom will introduce the new LiveRamp Connect product to clients at its RampUp Summit this Thursday in Santa Clara.

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