Acxiom Revenue Tanks This Quarter, But CEO Howe Asks Investors To Give It Time

acxiomearningsYou can’t blame Acxiom for trying, but the data management firm still has a ways to go before it achieves its goal of becoming the data management company to end all data management companies. Revenue for the first quarter of 2015 (Acxiom’s fiscal year ends in March) was $242.2 million, down roughly 6% year-over-year from $257.2 million.

Marketing and data services revenue came in at $187 million, down ever-so-slightly from last year. This quarter’s revenue for Audience Operating System (AOS)— Acxiom’s data-management platform (DMP) answer to players like Adobe and BlueKai — came in at about $5.5 million, 50% of which came through gross media spend.

In the words of Acxiom CFO Warren Jensen, the coming year will be one of “transition and heavy lifting.”

The ray of sunshine for Acxiom was gross media spend on AOS, which was up 87% from last quarter to about $28 million. It’s a seam to mine for the data company, which announced seven new AOS clients this past quarter, including a partnership with France-based multinational retailer Carrefour Media. The deal represents the first full deployment of the AOS platform in Europe — and Acxiom CEO Scott Howe is willing to wait and let it percolate before pushing it to bear much-needed fruit.

“If I’ve learned nothing from the AOS rollout or from any rollout I’ve ever been involved with, things like this always take longer than anticipated and there are always unforeseen products gaps as we do the implementation,” said Howe. “We approach the implementation as building a great long-term partnership as opposed to maintaining near-term revenue…Realistically, we’re not going to see the needle move for that this year; rather, you’ll see us ramp up next year and beyond.”

When asked by one investor about what drove the $28 million gross media rebound through AOS, Howe attributed it primarily to “the passage of time.”

“As we roll these products out there, there is a natural S curve of adoptions, and as marketers try things like Facebook, they will learn how it works and they will scale it if it works over time,” Howe said. “What we have particularly seen on Facebook is that marketers are trying data-driven media purchases, and as it’s successful, they’re either expanding their buys or word-of-mouth is spreading to other advertisers who are trying it.”

On the LiveRamp front, Acxiom completed its acquisition of the data onboarding company on July 1. Acxiom bought LiveRamp to boost AOS and help clients integrate their online and offline data. Howe said LiveRamp added eight new customers and partnered with four mobile display publishers since July 1.

“We’re laser-focused on integrating LiveRamp in a manner that allows us to fully capitalize on the opportunities it brings us,” said Howe, who noted that the company is looking to build long-term relationships with DSPs and premium publishers down the line.

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1 Comment

  1. I’m not sure a 6% decline constitutes tanking but clearly the company is in transition — that said the road ahead is challenging as the company is pitted against some very strong specialists in the DMP segment which have been SaaS-based since day one. Shifting away from legacy IT infrastructure mgt to cloud-based marketing services will make things painful in the coming quarters. Proper integration of LiveRamp business should be a bright spot.