Starcom MediaVest Signs Deal to Use Acxiom's Audience Operating System

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Laura Desmond, CEO, SMG
Laura Desmond, CEO, SMG

During Acxiom's earnings call a few weeks ago, CEO Scott Howe said that while he had talked with some agencies about signing on with the new multichannel platform he's staking his company's future on, it's still too early to go that route. But go that route Acxiom did, signing a multi-year agreement today with Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) to give its clients access to Acxiom‘s Audience Operating System.

The multi-year pact gives SMG, a division of Publicis Groupe, the right to extend at the conclusion of the deal, as well as first rights to global expansion. The deal also gives Publicis Groupe the option of expanding offerings to  its premier digital agency VivaKi and other Publicis Groupe companies. The partnership works in conjunction with Vivaki products such as AOD and SkySkraper.

Howe told Direct Marketing News that the deal will remain an exclusive for an indeterminate time, after which similar arrangements will be extended to other marketing services providers. “Starcom is going to be the first agency to be able to offer its clients a 360-degree view of their customers, and it's going to take years for us to fully distribute it through the company, one client at a time,” Howe said.

SMG CEO Laura Desmond said the deal ushers her agency into a “new era of addressability” that will have a huge impact on the relevance of their clients' campaigns. “This is a next-generation partnership that will accelerate data-driven marketing and precision targeting for our clients,” Desmond said in a release announcing the deal. “We've dreamed for years to scale personal and addressable communications from niche to mass, across screens and platforms. We believe this partnership will, in part, make this dream a reality.”

For Acxiom, the deal represents a huge step in its evolution from data provider to multichannel marketing platform provider. “We've redefined who our clients are,” Howe said. “We've built an operating system for the industry that's like the telephone—everyone who is linked to it gets value out of all the others, be it agencies, publishers, or software providers.”

Acxiom's Audience Operating System melds Big Data with marketing cloud software systems across all marketing channels. “Marketing has always centered around storytelling,” Howe said, “but the formats we've used limited our ability to tell detailed, sequenced stories. This system will allow Starcom clients to recognize and address individuals no matter where they are—on search, in email, or on a website.”

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