Acxiom Buys Allant's Advanced-Ad Business

Acxiom Corp, the data analytics firm, has acquired the advanced-advertising unit of Allant Group, a third-party data shop focused on advertising and marketing and whose pay-TV customers include Comcast, Dish Network and Charter Communications, Acxiom confirmed.

A person familiar with the transaction said the deal was sealed earlier this week, but did not know the purchase price. The person said 30-40 employees at the Boston-based Allant operation were expected to join Acxiom, including chief technology officer Kevin Cavanaugh and executive vice president Eric Schmitt. Naperville, Ill.-based Allant has cut more than 60 employees in 2015; a separate part of the business that performs marketing services is staying in the fold, at least for now, according to a person familiar with the company. At its peak in 2014, Allant had more than 200 employees, the source said.

Allant has been owned by venture-capital firm Mid Ocean Partners since 2009. Representatives for Allant and Mid Ocean Partners did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.

Acxiom senior director of communications, global marketing Ines Gutzmer confirmed by email that “the information is correct" that Acxiom had made the Allant purchase. "We are currently in the process of consolidating capabilities," she emailed. "We will be able to talk about this in greater detail at the beginning of the year.” Acxiom, a publicly owned firm, had not filed anything about an Allant deal with the Securities and Exchange Commission this week, but that could indicate the deal was not big enough to be material. 

Comcast Spotlight, the local ad-sales division of the top U.S. cable company, has been a key customer for Allant for the past several years. But Comcast had started moving data marketing business from Allant to another vendor, the source said, and Comcast has bolstered its own in-house advanced-ad capabilities with purchases this year of Visible World and IP-ad-insertion vendor This Technology

The TV-data analytics is red hot now, though, as seen by the ComScore-Rentrak merger, the move by Comcast to license set-top data to programmers and measurement firms and this week’s addressable-advertising pact struck between Cablevision Systems and Group M.

Even as Nielsen strives to expand its TV-measurement capabilities via “Total Audience Measurement,” programmers and pay-TV providers are eager to find new ways of extracting more cash from advertising as audiences fragment.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.