Acxiom's LiveRamp Buys Two Publisher Data Firms in Race to I.D. Consumers Across Devices

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Publishers no longer just produce editorial content, but data as well.

That was underlined on Thursday when LiveRamp said it had acquired two publisher data startups that help websites and app developers spin information about their visitors and users into revenue, Arbor in New York City and Circulate in Philadelphia. The purchases amount to a total cash consideration of approximately $140 million, according to LiveRamp.

LiveRamp until recently focused mainly on data on-boarding, or uploading offline customer relationship management data for digital ad targeting and campaign measurement.

But it's also the linchpin of parent company Acxiom's effort to become what it calls an agnostic set of pipes through which digital consumer data flows.

LiveRamp last month introduced a service called IdentityLink that represents an evolution of its data-on-boarding roots. IdentityLink aims to produce a cohesive view of a consumer from varied information such as social and programmatic ad data, call center and CRM data, transactional data and addressable TV data -- all before it is transformed or on-boarded for use online.

The Arbor and Circulate acquisitions will help LiveRamp fill a gap in publisher data, LiveRamp CEO Travis May suggested. "This should double the size of our publisher network to over 450," he said.

The company expects the acquisitions to improve its ability to determine and match mobile identities to other consumer data. Acxiom and LiveRamp are racing firms including Oracle to dominate the cross-channel identity connection market, a priority for advertisers as they try to deliver the right messages to the right people across devices.

"This represents the two most important actions we can take to double down on IdentityLink," Mr. May said. Web match rates should go up 10% to 20% while mobile match rates should rise 30%, he said.

Arbor and Circulate each have around 20 employees. The firms will now lead publisher relationships for LiveRamp.

"Every time data gets shared across channels and applications, we want to be the ones to facilitate the sharing of that data," said Mr. May. When such data is disseminated through Acxiom, the firm takes a small cut of the end cost that marketers pay for it.

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