LiveRamp Sets A Course To Cruise On Data Clean Room And Retail Media Tailwinds

LiveRamp earned a total of $141 million in Q4 2021, up 17% from the same period in 2020, with the retail category powering the company’s performance during the year.

But LiveRamp isn’t turning a profit.

The company reported gross profit of $102 million in 2021, but gross profit comes before costs and expenses, which mean LiveRamp tipped into a net loss of $15 million – $4 million worse than 2020. That said, LiveRamp spent $11.3 million more on research and development than the previous year and $6 million more on sales, marketing and administrative costs.

LiveRamp’s data marketplace growth has also tailed off. Its “Marketplace and Other” segment totaled $29 million last year, up only 12% year over year – meaning the percent growth is lower than the company’s overall growth rate, despite starting from a smaller base.

That would be a critical blow from the investor perspective, except the data marketplace is less interesting than it used to be. Third-party data has dried up, after all. And the company’s privacy-focused clean room and identity data solution, called Safe Haven, where the trendy investments are going, falls under the subscription business.

Safe Haven was launched almost a year ago, and already accounts for a fifth of the company’s total revenue.

Setting the brick-and-mortar

One reason Safe Haven is doing so well is because it’s a critical part of LiveRamp’s retail media offering. Walmart adopted Safe Haven in Q4 2021, LiveRamp CEO Scott Howe told investors. LiveRamp also signed a subscription contract with new customer, a huge Chinese online retailer.

LiveRamp added 20 new subscription logos in the quarter, each “a company you would recognize,” Howe told AdExchanger in a briefing prior to earnings. The new logos in the client roster over-index toward retail and CPG companies that are using Safe Haven to target retail media network buys.

When The Trade Desk won Walmart’s DSP partner business from Xandr in a bakeoff last year, it was because The Trade Desk matched more effectively to LiveRamp’s identity set.

“It’s hard to overstate how importance an asset it is for us to have a strategic position with 60% of big-box retail in the US,” LiveRamp CFO Warren Jenson told AdExchanger.

Market shifts

LiveRamp also benefits from changes in the market among onboarding and identity data companies, Howe said.

For one, he claims LiveRamp is thought of as the scaled, default player in the space.

In a recent Advertiser Perceptions SSP survey, LiveRamp’s RampID was the most-used identity service, pacing Google Privacy Sandbox proposals, Apple’s SKAdNetwork and Unified ID 2.0.

“It was nice seeing us atop the leaderboard, but it’s better when I pause to consider that other players are built on our carriage,” Howe told AdExchanger.

Data brokerages like Acxiom, which spun out LiveRamp in 2018, have also been scooped up. Acxiom went to IPG, while Publicis Groupe swallowed Epsilon.

Agencies differentiate through media-buying prowess, creative expertise and analytics, Howe said.

“But they shouldn’t be competing around access to identity,” he said, “because the world is better served when that’s provided neutrally to everyone.”

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