Rick Erwin of Acxiom on Targeting with Data

By Charlene Weisler Media Insights Q&A Archives

Rick Erwin has been in the epicenter of the data driven marketplace for over 25 years, including 10 at Experian and 12 at RR Donnelley. Now as President of Audience Solutions for Acxiom, Erwin is responsible for the success of the data, analytics and digital media business globally in division. “Acxiom is an enterprise data, analytics and software-as-a-service company [referring to the cloud],” he says.

In this interview, Erwin discusses Acxiom’s competitive market position, client base, dataset usability and changes in the data marketplace. He also looks ahead with some predictions of the media landscape five years from now.

Charlene Weisler: Who are your competitors and what is your point of difference? 

Rick Erwin: Three things make us unique -- 1) Data Stewardship: our position as a trusted manager of client, supplier and partner data who can neutrally and privately combine that data to produce better targeting and measurement results; 2) Recognition Capability: we are the only company that can anonymously, accurately and persistently recognize consumer identities in virtually any form and resolve that identity back to a common advertising currency, and 3) Connectivity: we are unique in our ability to connect all forms of advertising media and platforms together, so that audiences can be moved safely and seamlessly between them. This allows any data company to distribute their audiences on any platform, any advertiser to reach their audience through any ad medium.

Charlene: How do your clients use your data?

Rick: Our clients use the data in our network to accurately determine each person in their audience. This helps them spend their media budget more wisely to achieve the results they need. For some advertisers, data-driven marketing is still a very new approach, and we work with these clients to help them understand the data they have, as well as how to use it to create successful ad campaigns matched to the right audience. Our clients also use Acxiom’s data to instantly describe their audience and predict what they need to do to be relevant to them as well as to connect their audiences safely and privately through the right media channel.

Charlene: What are some surprises that your data reveals? 

Rick: When we first apply our Abilitec recognition and our Infobase data assets to a client’s business, it often reveals that the advertiser’s assumptions about who their best customers are differs from what they thought. This is because many advertisers know their customers by the transactions they have had with them, but have an incomplete picture of who they are outside those transactions. Do they have a family, what do they do for entertainment, what type of financial personality do they have, etc.? Knowing these things allows us to be more relevant marketers to these consumers.

Charlene: Give me some predictions as to how you think the media landscape will look three to five years from now.

Rick: We expect to see a few significant evolutions: 1) A continued trend of the marriage of data for targeting and measurement with media impression information; 2) The development of a healthy business around addressable TV advertising, and 3) major advertiser expectation of accurate omni-channel campaign effectiveness measurement.

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