The Cross-Device Question: Acxiom

Scott-HoweAcxiom CEO Scott Howe discusses what his company offers in terms of linking consumers across devices.

This is the final part of an interview series that previously featured John Nardone, CEO of [x+1], Omar Tawakol, CEO of BlueKai, and Bill Demas, CEO of Turn.

In terms of cross-device linkage, what do your clients want and what can you deliver?

What they want is a single unifying identification structure, which we offer in Audience Operating System (AOS). That’s what makes us unique (among BlueKai, Turn and [x+1]). They’re online DMPs. They deal with unstructured non-PII (personally identifying information) data. We are unique in that much of our origins came from personal recognition, the direct mail space, email. We can flip between unstructured and structured data through a matching key. That allows us to get more individual recognition.

The second piece that accompanies that over time is permissions. We think collecting permissions and giving consumers and companies a place to validate what information has been captured and how that information is used is very important. AboutTheData was the first step toward that dream, but it’s only a first step in a journey.

How about connecting someone on a computer with someone on a mobile phone? What are the possibilities there today in terms of creating that linkage?

We have a picture of this, in terms of the common methods used. We have basically mapped out what we think the industries are doing and the pros and cons of each. We like our method, which essentially creates a master recognition file that can make the connection on a number of attributes as opposed to doing something that requires 10 integrations and a whole bunch of guessing.

Did you build that in-house?

We have 40-year roots in data management. It’s a lot of in-house coupled with increasing recognition that it’s also about partnership. To do stuff in today’s world, I don’t believe in the vision of a single monolithic database. Data is used at a single point in time and disappears depending on what permissions you have. It’s about partnering and making real-time connections as opposed to owning every interaction.

Acxiom’s big play emphasizes online-offline connectivity.

You hear us talk about the online offline linkage because we think there’s a group of competitors that only represent one piece of it. To me that’s not the end game either. It’s everything: It’s structured and unstructured, it’s online and offline, data about people, data about things, data about the weather, data about inventory. Somehow a data manage platform has become synonymous with online display marketing. Why? Data is data is data. It can be used so much more powerfully than just that thin slice where a handful of startups have emerged in the last few years.

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