Acxiom takes onramp to online data with $310m acquisition of LiveRamp

Contact: Scott Denne

Acxiom makes its boldest bid yet to push its marketing data business further into the digital world with the $310m acquisition of LiveRamp. The marketing data giant has talked up the opportunities to expand its existing assets and build out its offline data assets for the digital sphere, but spending has been tame compared with this deal.

In 2013, Acxiom tripled its R&D budget to $31.6m, still only one-tenth of what it’s paying for LiveRamp. That tripling was, in part, to build and launch AOS, its data management platform for digital marketing applications. That offering gains potency with LiveRamp’s technology and partnerships and will position it to compete with Neustar and Oracle, both of which recently bought their own data management platforms.

Not only is Acxiom spending about 75% of its cash on the deal, it’s paying a healthy multiple. Discussing the acquisition on its earnings call, Acxiom said it expected LiveRamp to have $25-30m in annual revenue by the end of two years from now, meaning it values LiveRamp beyond 10x projected revenue. To add shock to the sticker price, take note that Acxiom hasn’t purchased a technology company since 2008 (when it snagged Quinetix for $2.7m) and hasn’t spent more than $100m on a technology acquisition in almost a decade, according to The 451 M&A KnowledgeBase.

LiveRamp built technology that takes in a company’s CRM data and matches it to online devices. Acxiom has long trafficked in consumer data, both its own and that of customers. By owning LiveRamp, Acxiom enables marketers to retarget existing customers online, even if it only has an offline relationship with them. For example, car companies could target customers with Web videos, even if they have only been to the dealership, and not the website.

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