- The marketing-data company Acxiom is shopping around LiveRamp, a data-migration firm it acquired just four years ago, according to industry insiders.
- The process could have something to do with GDPR, a European regulation that’s causing advertisers, publishers, data firms, and tech companies to scramble to make sure they’re ready.
- The looming European privacy regulation could spur a flurry of partnerships and marketing-tech acquisitions.
Marketing-data company Acxiom is shopping around LiveRamp, a data-migration firm it acquired just four years ago for $310 million, according to industry insiders.
LiveRamp is known as a “data-onboarding” company. It essentially helps big companies move around databases in a safe, privacy-respectful manner.
For example, a big brand that has loads of customer email addresses or web profiles might want to plug this data into an ad-tech company’s software so that it can target people with ads. LiveRamp serves as the go-between, making sure the right data gets to the ad-tech company without sharing any personal or proprietary information.
With GDPR — or General Data Protection Regulation — going into effect on May 25, a company that can promise tech vendors safer data usage, or the appearance of data safety, would suddenly be highly valuable, from both a business and public-relations perspective.
LiveRamp is “basically a monopoly,” said one ad-tech source. “It’s the best in business. It’s a very valuable asset.”
So it’s good bet that Acxiom could find many suitors. Theoretical buyers might include any number of “marketing cloud” giants like Adobe, Salesforce, IBM, or Oracle.
Why would Acxiom want to unload something so valuable? Well, the company, which compiles marketing profiles on thousands of consumers for giant marketers like Macy’s, has publicly said that as of April 1 it planned to split up the LiveRamp business and another division, called Acxiom Marketing Solutions (AMS), and that the company would “evaluate strategic alternatives for AMS.”
“While we have not committed to a specific time line, we are moving both expeditiously and methodically, and we are confident the process will yield a successful outcome for clients, associates and you, our shareholders,” said Acxiom CEO and president Scott Howe on the company’s earnings call Wednesday.
A few weeks ago, Facebook booted Axciom data from its platform, meaning that advertisers would no longer be able to use Acxiom profile information to target consumers on the platform. That sent Acxiom’s stock down 20% initially.
So Acxiom may be looking to cash in LiveRamp’s value, or simply distance itself from any GDPR issues.
Acxiom declined to comment for this story.