Acxiom snaps up LiveRamp and its data onboarding smarts for $310M

Acxiom(s acxm) is not some shiny Silicon Valley startup. In fact, it’s over 40 years old. The company, based in Little Rock, Arkansas, also happens to be a pioneer in collecting data — and converting that data into big bucks for customers like Hearst, Epson and United Airlines(s UAL) — so it’s really interesting that it’s snapping up the San Francisco-based LiveRamp for $310 million in cash.

LiveRamp, which spun out of Rapleaf in 2012, is known for funneling (aka “onboarding”) customer data locked in CRM systems into other applications where it can be put to use for sales and marketing.

North Bridge Venture Partners’ Paul Santinelli, a proud investor in LiveRamp, said the company’s technology complements what Acxiom does — in fact, the companies already partner, as well as compete, in some areas.

LiveRamp will give customers more data that is now typically locked in internal CRM systems, Santinelli said. “Say, Toyota has all this leasing information about customer. It probably wants to market to all the customers whose leases are up within the next five months. Right now, what they typically do is use that CRM data to do direct mail, which is inexpensive and ineffective.”

LiveRamp will enable the secure transmission of that data into web-based systems that can repurpose it for marketing campaigns via mobile devices or the web. The company raised about $30 million in venture capital since its founding six years ago.

“LiveRamp onboards that CRM data, matches it up with other user data and drops a pixel [a small, cookie-like piece of anonymized data] that media buyers can use to target their campaigns,” Santinelli said.

The goal here is to find the right potential buyer for a given product or service and target your pitch just to that person, rather than to thousands of people who have no interest in what you are pitching and likely will develop a surly disposition if you keep spamming them.

The goal of the combined companies is to “deliver one-to-one marketing at scale,” Acxiom CEO Scott Howe said in a statement announcing the deal Wednesday afternoon.

Acxiom and LiveRamp together claim more than 7,000 customers and partners worldwide — a collection that in aggregate provides them with access to 99 percent of the adult U.S. population, according to Axciom’s statement.