Acxiom Unveils Real-Time Service to Seize Data Via Net

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NEW YORK -- Acxiom Corp., Conway, AR, last week launched plans for a real-time service allowing authorized customers to seize demographic and lifestyle data through the Internet.


Dubbed the Acxiom Data Network, the fee-based system will operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day and will link subscribers to the company's InfoBase of more than 180 million records about consumer and business data. Acxiom officials -- including company leader Charles Morgan -- unveiled the Data Network system at the Hotel Inter-Continental here and nationwide live through the Internet, which provided access to electronic viewers.


"This product will data-enable our customers at the desktop through already available business software," said Mark Theilken, group leader of Acxiom Data Network. "The bottom line for Acxiom customers is that they will be able to take action based on the best available information at the point of the decision. It will also mean good news for consumers by reducing unwanted or incorrect mail."


The phased roll-out over the next four quarters represents a downmarket move for the company, whose client list spans mega-corporations such as Oracle, IBM, Digital Equipment Corp. and Allstate Insurance Co.


"We are hoping to build new revenues by reaching smaller companies," Theilken said.


The service will be available in May -- and although pricing is not finalized, the company said it expects monthly fees to be set at a minimum of $59.95, with additional charges for transactions beyond a certain benchmark. For larger companies, an annual subscription rate and a higher ceiling on the number of hits will determine the price.


According to the company, the service will provide the information through the Web, eliminating the need for providing data and information through CD-ROMs, floppy discs and tapes. To access names, a client currently must go through a multistep process with a five- to 10-day turnaround.


"If customers decide they want enhancement information, they would have to extract a list of customers from their databases, put them on some tape medium, overnight it to us and we have to standardize it and schedule it in our process," Theilken said. "The minimum time we can turn something around is five days, but the average is seven to 10. With Data Network, it can be done literally in minutes."


And the information is accessible at a client's desktop.


Clients will be able to set demographic parameters for their desired targets and will read that information by linking to the Acxiom Data Network, which will match the requests through customer identifiers known as "Acxi-Keys."


The service will provide authorized customers with access to a range of the records that make up the InfoBase.


"When we go into production of the Data Network, we should have in the area of 180 million consumers identified, and that represents about 95 percent of the economically active residents in the United States," Theilken said.


Throughout the year, Acxiom is planning to introduce supplemental programs and services, among them technology that will automatically alert Data Network subscribers to changes in their customers' data. At the moment, informational changes are updated based on the update cycles of contributing sources, according to Theilken.


With the Data Network, the company plans to begin updating the repository every 30 days. Changes in addresses, telephone numbers or marital status will signal an offering opportunity for Acxiom clients.
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