ALC Rebrands As Adstra, And Enters The Crowded Identity Graph Market

The marketing data company ALC, which started out 40 years ago creating consumer segments for direct mail advertisers, relaunched Tuesday as Adstra, with a new mission as a data onboarding and identity graph provider.

Adstra is following a well-beaten path for companies that transformed offline consumer data sets based on home addresses and landline phone numbers into online identity data services, including Neustar, IRI and Acxiom.

The move will expand the business opportunities for the former ALC data, because instead of working solely with brands that run direct mail marketing campaigns, the identity asset will be a valuable sell to agencies, new DTC brands and ad tech companies like DSPs, where data is bought and used, said Rick Erwin, Adstra CEO and former co-president of Acxiom’s Marketing Solutions business.

Erwin said another important differentiator from legacy data brokerages is that Adstra could run within an agency’s or brand’s own data operation. Instead of marketers and ad tech companies buying audience packages or enhancing their own, Adstra’s data can run within another company’s identity graph, without feeding data back to Adstra.

“You get to a point where you’ve seen all the legacy problems associated with the largest players, and you realize you can change that without the constraint of the technical debt and inertia of a large, publicly traded company,” he said.

The Adstra team does have a seasoned perspective on legacy identity data practices. Aside from his leadership role at Acxiom, Erwin was also president of Experian’s consumer insights and targeting division. Adstra’s chief financial officer, chief revenue officer, chief of human resources, chief strategy and development officer and chief data officer all held similar senior roles at both Experian and Acxiom.

The collection of expertise and managed service experience is an important reason why Aisle Rocket, a media and analytics agency, recently started working with Adstra, said CEO Ross Shelleman.

Aisle Rocket has a managed CDP offering, and uses Adstra as a foundation to connect its clients’ first-party data to audiences and households for targeting and attribution, he said. Instead of being purely a purveyor of data, he said Adstra helps solve problems with how the data is applied and has a more managed service approach.

Many data and identity companies want to be the sole provider for their client, Erwin said. Some of the largest data onboarding companies, namely LiveRamp, now request clients not use other data onboarding in many cases, he said.

“We’re not trying to be the sole data and identity provider,” he said. “For us, the opportunity is in the gaps.”

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