LiveRamp To Acquire Two People-Based Marketing Startups – Arbor And Circulate – For $140M Total

liveramparborcirculate_2LiveRamp will drop $140 million to finance its people-based marketing dreams.

On Thursday, the Acxiom-owned onboarding company announced its intention to acquire two companies: Arbor, a marketplace for people-based data, and Circulate, which helps app developers monetize their first-party data in a privacy-friendly way.

LiveRamp declined to say how much it paid for each company.

Arbor and Circulate will both be integrated into LiveRamp’s omnichannel identity resolution tool, IdentityLink. A version of the tool aimed at brands launched in October, followed less than a month later by a version for marketing technology providers.

LiveRamp said the integration should be completed in five months and will be baked into the next phase of IdentityLink, aimed at publishers. Media sellers will use it to offer the equivalent of Facebook Custom Audiences and Google Customer Match across their own properties.

Arbor and Circulate both have a mobile-first approach, according to LiveRamp CMO Jeff Smith.

“We’ve seen a great deal of demand amongst the marketers we work with to increase our mobile deterministic reach,” Smith said. “This acquisition allows us to improve the identity resolution we can do for marketers via the networks Arbor and Circulate have built and it allows us to add value to their publisher partners by giving access to the marketers using the IdentityLink platform.”

More than 150 marketers use IdentityLink.

Deterministic reach is critical if LiveRamp wants to compete with Facebook and Google for people-based marketing budgets.

LiveRamp claims the addition of Arbor and Circulate will provide a 20-30% boost in deterministic mobile match rates and a 10-20% boost in deterministic online match rates, which translates into the ability to reach several million more real people across digital channels.

“Outside of Facebook and Google, sources of identity data only really come from two places,” Smith said. “From publishers who are interacting with consumers and as a result they have information on those consumers, and from the brands themselves that have CRM databases they maintain with information on a small slice of the population.”

Arbor and Circulate help expand LiveRamp’s pool of existing publisher partnerships from just over 200 to more than 450.

“That will allow us to extend the scale of our graph and ultimately provide better reach to marketers,” he said. “We’re basically doubling the number of data sources we can use to help marketers implement custom audiences across the rest of the internet.”

The entire Arbor and Circulate teams – each have about 20 employees – will join LiveRamp under Acxiom’s Connectivity unit as full-time employees. LiveRamp’s current headcount stands at around 250 people.

Acxiom expects that Arbor and Circulate will contribute roughly $5 million in revenue during fiscal year 2017.

Founded in 2014, Arbor raised a $6.5 million Series A in September and just over $9 million total, including seed funding. Circulate has raised $17.4 million since it was founded in 2009.

[Shout-out to the commenter on AdExchanger’s coverage of the Arbor funding round. You called it: “Very hot space – the data is rare, unlike behavioral data. Arbor has a shot at unseating LiveRamp in the onboarding space, but they are not as scaled as Circulate or Oracle’s identity graph.”]


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