Jared Walls: Welcome to the Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista. Probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you’re going to put in your ears. I’m Jared Walls, associate producer and Stirista’s creative copy manager. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders to get their take on the current challenges in the market, but also have a little fun along the way. In this episode, Vincent and Ajay catch up with Chad Engelgau, CEO at Acxiom. They discuss the importance of building an identity graph, the intricacies of remote work in the business ecosystem, and the band Chad thinks is a good model for marketing. Ajay celebrates his SAMMY Award, events that leans into awkward selfies. Give it a listen.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of the Marketing Stir. This is a special episode. This is our season two premiere. Seasons, what? What you a TV show? No, we are not but, we wanted just to kick this off, we took a little hiatus over the summer, with our best- of episodes, as you probably have seen just a few there and we’re kicking off season two, we’re kicking it off in style for so many different reasons. I of course, am your host, Vincent Pietrafesa, the Vice President of B2B products and partnerships at Stirista. Let’s talk about Stirista for one minute. Stirista, identity marketing company, we focus on marketing technology, around identity like I just said, we have our own data, B2B, B2C, we help customers utilize that data to get new customers, to enrich their data. We have our own DSP. Email me at email@example.com. That is how confident I am in our services. I just gave you my email address. The other thing I am confident in is I say week in and week out, ladies and gentlemen, my CEO, my commander in chief here at Stirista, ladies and gentlemen, Ajay Gupta. What’s going on Ajay?
Ajay Gupta: Hey Vincent, what a way to start off season two, just back from seeing all of you guys in New York. It was good to actually meet some of the people that have joined the team and through acquisitions and organic hiring. And can’t say I’ve said this a lot. But actually, going to be traveling yet again. We have a big tennis tournament coming up. It’s our state championships. So, we’ll be representing San Antonio and Dallas.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. That’s what the Dallas trip is about. All right. People have been listening to the podcast, they know about Ajay’s tennis adventures, just racking up the gold and the silverware if you say, not silverware, right? Hardware is the term, isn’t it?
Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I guess hardware. So, no team from San Antonio has won the Texas Championship in about 25 years. So, this will be exciting. And it’ll be especially exciting, because the national championship is in Arizona, which will bring us to our guest.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s right. Yes, what a beautiful transition. Yeah, I just lost my job as the upfront guy as the up-front entertainment. I love it. Great transition. And speaking of hardware, I want to add this one more thing. Ajay has just been named the Individual of the Year, the Sammy Awards, ladies and gentlemen. I don’t know does that come with hardware Ajay? Did you get an award?
Ajay Gupta: I haven’t gotten it yet. I did get a lot of likes, so it made me feel good.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s right. I posted a picture of you and I with an awkwardly close selfie that I was like, ” This is our personality. We’re fun. I’m putting that picture out there. I’m showing how much fun we all have here at Stirista.”
Ajay Gupta: For the record we were totally sober.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yes, we were sober as you can still hear in my voice that that’s recovering from all those not crazy nights here in New York City. But yes, I love this next guest. This next guest is one of my favorite CEOs out there. One of my favorite people. Very down to earth, very knowledgeable. A friend of the program. I’ve never was able to say that. I don’t even know what it means but I always wanted to say it. And yes, he hails from Arizona. Ladies and gentlemen, please a warm welcome to the season two premiere, the CEO of Acxiom, Chad Engelgau, what’s going on Chad?
Chad Engelgau: Hey, good afternoon Ajay, good afternoon Vincent. Always great to see you guys even at virtual. Looking forward to not over- indulging in beverages next time we see each other.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I can’t wait, I’d love to finally meet you in- person. I feel like I know you Chad because we chat quite a bit. You and I and Ajay we’ve done a few different panels together focusing on identity, identity resolution for the Direct Marketing Club of New York. We always appreciate the time that you lend to that fine, nonprofit organization. And we are happy to have you here Chad, for people who don’t know, listening to the podcast tell us about Acxiom?
Chad Engelgau: All right, so Acxiom is a 50-year-old company that has been building customer intelligence solutions for direct-to-consumer brands. We specialize in over index in financial services, insurance, health care areas, we also help service the government through a variety of marketing use cases. In our non-regulated industries of course, we are working with automobile manufacturers, retailers, travel and entertainment companies, and emerging clients for CPG and things. Similar to Stirista, I won’t repeat everything you said. Very data- driven, provide consumer insights, aka data to our customers and build identity graphs, build solutions that help them better engage, of course, with us as consumers, and of course create the business outcomes in need.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. And Chad talk to us about your role as CEO. Obviously, people understand CEO as I think on the surface inaudible, but I’d love to understand some of your day- to- day, what you’re involved in. And then my follow up question is how did you get into this business?
Chad Engelgau: Now, I appreciate it. I’ve been at Acxiom for about 14 years now, for the most part took a year hiatus as a Chief Data Officer at a company called Kinesso. It’s also a part of the IPG family. But over the 14 years, I’ve primarily been in leadership role around product, as well as marketing. And so, it’s been a tremendous journey, a lot has changed of course in the marketing ecosystem over the last 15 to 20 years. I’ve actually been in tech for about 25 years now. And as a committed lifelong learner, I’ve just loved being in tech, because I’ve always wanted to learn what the next cool thing was and being on the cutting-edge technology. So whether I started out in a call center, which isn’t very cutting edge, but you pay your dues and you realize the pain, the products that aren’t developed correctly can cause clients, you really get to understand the impact of the decisions made upstream prior to products getting into market and that got me into really deploying technology solutions, getting people out and businesses of course having internet early on. I joined Dell and spent almost a decade there focused on internet server products, focused on innovation on Oracle databases, three tier internet architectures. Then of course, spending most of my time at Acxiom doing data and identity. And there’s a lot going on each and every day to manage a business now at the highest level, but at the end of the day, I love tech and love seeing how we can help solve client problems and make marketing a better experience for people.
Ajay Gupta: Chad I know Acxiom has been very involved with identity graph, can you tell us a little bit about your identity graph and how you guys view identity?
Chad Engelgau: Hey, Ajay, I love that it said the Marketing Club in New York City and other areas, identity is a very hot topic. And of course, it’s way more than just one thing. Acxiom itself specializes in creating identity graphs for brands themselves, which is really part of an overarching data- driven strategy that I like to share with our clients. And in the first area around create, not only creating an overarching data strategy, but what do you want to do with data and what differentiation will it allow you to create in your customer experience and of course your business outcomes? Then how do you create a data- driven organization and the third tenant of that is the creation of an identity graph? It is fundamentally critical because if you don’t have a place to anchor insights, whether they’re consumer insights, so you can recognize people over name change, location and time, or even business identity graphs which I know you guys specialize in quite a bit, till you can recognize businesses, you can understand relationships between those business entities, parent companies, divisions, et cetera, and of course, you can reach people in key roles across the business. The fundamental management of data information today is based on the ability to have an identity graph anchoring it. And so the solutions we build called REAL ID solutions not only focuses on what’s considered historically offline data, personally identifiable information about people, names, addresses, emails, phone numbers, but of course more digital identifiers going forward in the ecosystem, whether that’s an IP address, whether that’s hashed email addresses, still cookies while they exist today, first and third party and unifying those in a way that manages privacy compliance, captures and manages consent, based upon the collection of information directly from consumers. And of course, anchors all the data that can be used in a variety of analytical use cases, marketing use cases or even business intelligence use cases and other applications for the business.
Ajay Gupta: Chad I know there’s a lot of things that Acxiom specializes in and there’s probably a lot of companies and clients that you have that span across industries and verticals, is there an ideal client profile that you have that your sales team works off of?
Chad Engelgau: There is, and I would say that an ideal client historically for Acxiom has been those brands that do have a direct consumer relationship. As I mentioned earlier, financial services, we are absolutely the industry leader in creating financial marketing solutions, prospect marketing solutions that are governed, and highly regulated, as well as customer marketing solutions for financial. And one of the reasons why we lead in there and other areas is because they have a lot of consumer data, we as people give our banks a significant amount of money. Of course, a significant amount of data with that as well. And they create a tremendous amount of value for us, our ability to borrow money on homes and automobiles and business investments, to invest those things to make more money. And that data has to be managed in highly sensitive areas. Of course, encrypted at rest, anchored in insights, so they can understand people and create more value for them. And of course, banks today look very different than they did 25 years ago, you can get almost any service from the same bank. And banks often compete for a variety of your investment and banking needs. So, any company that has access to and now more emerging companies who want to actually pin it to having more direct consumer engagement are the brands that we tend to specialize in and we do best with, because we know how to help them do that. And of course, add to those insights as well.
Vincent Pietrafesa: And Chad, I love seeing your… Maybe briars if you will, but through Acxiom but more important, I love seeing the different positions that you’ve had there. A lot of those being focused around data. I want to ask you, did those early years at Acxiom in the trenches of data, help you out to where you are now?
Chad Engelgau: Absolutely. And I really made strategic decision to leave what was generally considered a hardware and software business in Dell after almost a decade and moved to Acxiom, was the clear understanding that is amazing as Dell is as a company and one of the first hardware manufacturers that were direct to consumers and direct to brands and businesses, with 80% of their business coming from selling to other businesses, they had a tremendous amount of data, and more insights about customer purchase behaviors. Whether it’s B2B or B2C than any other tech company, I believe in the world, because of their direct model. But even Dell at times struggled with anchoring that information in a meaningful way, having it shared, having a single version of the truth, filling in the gaps about all the data and information that consumers didn’t provide to Dell, the other aspects of their life, or the other aspects of what drives a business from the purchases that they weren’t making with Dell. So that got me interested in joining Acxiom, and especially around this area around identity. And I had the opportunity to come in and look at one of their emerging products called the Vilitec historically, and help bring that into the digital age over the first five or six years of my work there, as well as just help modernize a strategy around enterprise clients and how we take the third party data insights, ensure that we can complete and enhance all those records, beyond just behavioral assets that we use for marketing purposes, and begin to anchor a story around the power of identity which ultimately led to Acxiom acquiring LiveRamp, and then of course, subsequently LiveRamp becoming an independent publicly traded company because of the power of identity and the economic value that creates for shareholders. So, it’s been an amazing journey throughout my time at Acxiom, and as you said, identity has only grown in importance over those 14 years.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, and I know that Stirista having its own data, and you again, being in the trenches and a lot of things you do, data plays a huge role in what you’re doing at Acxiom.
Chad Engelgau: Absolutely. So being trusted to manage our client’s data is at the top of the list. Many people do associate Acxiom with one of the leading providers of consumer insights aka third party data for those in the industry, and not only do we do that and append that to our client’s data, and we sell it as list files to thousands of companies, and of course we make those audiences available in digital ecosystem with our tremendous partners like The Trade Desk. I know you participate with them as well, and Oracle and Google, Facebook, et cetera. And it’s a great place to be in the industry, because the audiences create efficiencies for media buying. But they also feel the earned media and of course the owned media that happens on a consumer site. So, data is critical. It is a differentiating strategy for businesses, the world’s largest companies are absolutely focused on differentiated data strategies. And I know, we’ve shared and talked highly about companies needing to be data- driven or being displaced. And I fundamentally believe that as a business executive, and I continue to try to inform as many other executives to the power of what data creates. Not just for your ability to market, it’s your ability to understand your buyer, to build the right products, to service inaudible to the right way. And of course, drive your financials.
Ajay Gupta: Chad you and I met at a RampUp conference, and the meeting almost didn’t happen because the booth was somewhere in the basement. But I’m glad you navigated and found this. So, with the pandemic and the interactions having gone away, how difficult was it to manage your team remotely? And especially, you have worked remotely for a while so I’m sure you have some guidance for a lot of people who had not done that before.
Chad Engelgau: Yeah, it was great meeting you, I think definitely kismet. I know we’ve established a just great relationship and I just marvel at what you’ve been able to do at Stirista, and how you grow that business. So, kudos to you there. The aspect of remote work and whether we’re going to be going back to office or, do you need to mandate that someone is vaccinated when they come back to office? There’s a lot of change going on in the business ecosystem. But, what I would share specifically to that question is, Acxiom is lucky in that we had over 30% of our associates working remote, and I was an individual who was able to take advantage of that in my entire career at Acxiom, and never had a specific office in one of our locations around the globe, but was able to contribute at a high level. And I think between individuals, of course, across the globe we were able to do that, we proved as a business model that you need to focus on people’s skill sets and effort and their ability to deliver on the requirements of the job, versus where they’re located in. It wasn’t easy or perfect our transition during the pandemic to go from 30% remote associates into almost 100%, we do have an amazing crew of people, still less than probably 3% of our overall population that show up in the office to maintain the technical infrastructure in the buildings themselves that we own and operate in the data centers for our clients. But it’s been a strong transition and we actually just looked, and we have associates in 40 states now in the US alone, and of course across the globe. So, being flexible by design is one of our principals, creating frameworks so that managers have the tools and the techniques as well as are consistently encouraged, as well as arguably monitored so that they’re keeping in touch with their team, they’re setting expectations, they’re managing performance, they’re focused on our customers. It hasn’t been perfect or easy. But it has I think allowed a level of freedom, especially for those individuals who’ve had to take care of children during their time, as well where kids couldn’t go physically to their school or having to take care of elders, because they didn’t want them in other facilities or we’re all getting older over time. But it’s been a great transition. I’ve just been very proud of everyone in our company and their ability to adjust, while continuing to first and foremost stay focused on our client needs. And so that’s been a very positive experience over the last 12 months because I know we grapple for some of those things.
Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I can tell you firsthand I was very excited when the schools opened in Texas. So, I don’t know how the teachers do it. But it was a tough handful of months here.
Chad Engelgau: Yeah.
Ajay Gupta: So, Chad, with things opening up, I know we were discussing before the podcast started. Looks like you’re back on the road a little bit and there might be some events coming up. So, do you think the next six to 12 months are going to be different? Do you expect some of the in- person events to return?
Chad Engelgau: I’m cautiously optimistic at this point. Again, depending upon the state that you’re in, there are very high levels of vaccination rates which are equating to lower new Delta variant infection rates, and people are ready to get out, we know that. We do have clients accepting meetings in- person. We of course are adhering not only to their local laws or preferences around of course masking vaccination rates, the type of facility we can meet in, social distancing, et cetera but, people want to meet. People are ready to get back to some level of normality. I think if we can do that, while keeping a focus on individual’s health, it’s going to be a good thing. And so, we’re opening up going from remote only events to these hybrid events, as we talked about before the call. For those people who are comfortable in- person or are close by, leaving an option open for them to attend in- person and of course, keeping that content available for live streams and recording for people to view it at any time that they want. And so, I think we’re all just continuing to learn on what do we need to do next and how does it make for a meaningful engagement and reusable content from marketing perspective? So, I bet even after the numbers subside most of all, this concept of virtual and remote and of course, recording content like these blog casts really are powerful, because people can consume it whenever they want to consume it. I think that’s a positive thing.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I agree. I’m hoping to, like I said, Ajay was just in town, we met up with a bunch of people, met up with some clients. We’re hoping that I just signed up for two conferences coming up in- person in October and also November, the Silver Apple Awards here, so I’m hoping that takes place. Chad, I wanted to go back to something you said before, be data- driven or be displaced. I heard you mentioned that. I also saw a recent release of that. So, can you elaborate on some of the fundamental excuse me on being data- driven?
Chad Engelgau: Yeah, for sure. I said, I try to simplify it for most executives, versus people who have spent their life of course in the technology space, or even the data space. But one, the first premise there is, of course, create. If you do not have a well-articulated data strategy, you can’t even get out of the gate. How are you going to collect data? How are you going to control that data? How are you going to permission it? What is the end in mind for the use cases so that when you do things like a privacy impact assessment, those things can be documented and managed in code, in order to adhere to an increasing amount of legislation on how especially consumer data is collected and managed? Then of course, it’s not just enough to have a strategy, there is fundamental organizational dynamics, where people often tend to use data only when it defends their perspective, right? That aspect of confirmation bias, thanks to the internet, I think any and everyone can find something on the internet that defends their position, by someone who looks like an authority. But really inside the four walls of business, being data- driven, is critical. And having a data- driven mindset that you want to question, and you want to validate things through the use of data is fundamental. The third area and that is we mentioned already and already talked about was, then having a place to anchor those in a way that allows you to keep track of either a business entity, or in a inaudible that relationship or even individuals, households, over again, name change, location and time, so that the data has a high level of quality. And that’s the creation of those identity graphs. That said, the second pillar is around connecting that data, connecting that data internally, so that it can be used by the right organizations to make those decisions. Connecting that data, not only your first party data that we’re primarily talking about, but with third party data from companies like Stirista and Acxiom, Dun& Bradstreet and others. And then think about connecting that data across your own earned and paid media. If the data that you have isn’t informing the millions and millions of dollars that you spend on media, what is? Because now you have different data sets, making decisions on your business on who you’re reaching, and how that’s performing. And then of course, in the third area there around, activating. Really activating those insights, activating those insights for learning. Data informs how your audiences or how your decision-making process evolves over time and there’s aspects in that area about how you activate those insights, create better business outcomes. And of course, create greater value with ad dollars that you spend or the activities that you’re doing from a customer experience initiative. So, try to keep it very straightforward and simple because there’s a lot of powerful aspects of it underneath there that I’m asking the real experts at Acxiom to build on over the next few months to really give people more data and information about how to transform their business.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, and if you’re not data- driven like you said, they’re displaced. And what’s your meaning around displaced in this situation?
Chad Engelgau: Think about it, the fastest growing companies in the world. And it’s easy to point to the big companies, but I’ll do it anyway then I’ll point to some other areas. But, Google, Facebook, Netflix, Apple, 100% of the data that they collect is anchored in identity graphs, so that it can be leveraged by the business, it drives personalization engines that are amazing and it a level that most companies will be able to reach for the next three to five years. It informs the decisions on product adoption, at the individual level and at a level of breadth because of registration process, activation through software within the hardware itself, aspects of IoT that fundamentally didn’t exist 10 years ago where it doesn’t matter who actually sells your hardware, you can create a relationship with the consumer and anchor that data and information to drive business decisions, again, whether it’s product related, financial related, customer service and support related, et cetera. But looking at companies like Allbirds, from a tennis shoe they didn’t have to go to a distribution service to become one of the fastest growing shoe brands in the world. They had a great product, they had a good value proposition, and they went direct to consumer. And they are one of the fastest growing shoe brands in the world. And they again, anchor all that information, they spend more time not on supply chain management. But of course, on customer engagement and experience and learning from each and every interaction, and how to find the next best client based upon everything they know about the best clients they have. But again, the ironic thing is in the world where the world’s biggest transportation companies, Uber and Lyft, don’t own any vehicles, or you look at the world’s biggest hoteliers, like VRBO or Vrbo and Airbnb, don’t even own buildings. They’re driving all of this around data, and the ability to connect data and people through technology, and continue to offer their existing clients greater value propositions and access to information that they want, at a speed that others aren’t matching. And that’s why they’re growing so fast.
Ajay Gupta: Speaking of big data. So, it looks like COVID stole the thunder of CCPA and some of the other regulations that were being talked about a lot pre COVID. And then COVID happened. And now obviously, it still looms in the background. So how does Acxiom dealing with the additional regulations and statewide regulations that are being placed on data providers?
Chad Engelgau: It’s an amazing question, Ajay and I know you and I have talked about this as CEOs of businesses. There is no bigger economic challenge that American businesses face than the increasing amount of individual legislation that’s being created 15 plus active today, being articulated at the state and local levels about how data can be collected and used. I am an advocate and have been speaking for years that the United States requires a unified set of policies at the federal level, that supersedes all state and local policies, that is similar to GDPR, which balances the benefits of us as individual citizens and people, with the economic benefits of data collection to the economy. It creates a position for controllers, people who we give our data to freely and processors, those who manage data like ourselves, in order to create incremental value for customers. It’s literally supply chain management 101 on why our economy needs those things. And of course, marketing’s is supported use case. So, I just got done writing letters to our top 20 clients and their CEOs, I asked their chief privacy officer to write letters to the top 20 clients CPOs, as well as our head of marketing on how critical it is for us to support initiatives, like privacy for America, and privacy for America. com as business leaders to push our legislators to focus on this initiative. So that we don’t have to try to comply with numerous disparate and different regulations around this. And I’ll just try to close on this point that CCPA alone cost the US economy a minimum of$ 55 billion, and I just start adding that up 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 times or more because of the ability to do this at a local level or a district level. It is untenable to us as business leaders that we allow this to happen. And we need to push the people who can fix this problem, our legislators to focus on this initiative and get it solved in the next year and a half.
Ajay Gupta: I couldn’t agree with you more. Unfortunately, in our world, third party data has become this bad word, almost outside the industry. And I think for me personally, without that access to third party data, I wouldn’t have been able to build this company because back in the day I needed Jigsaw$ 1 per contact, easy access to data, which really leveled the playing field in terms of me being able to prospect and reach out to prospects in a way that I think people don’t quite understand what the world would be if there was no marketing that was being done.
Chad Engelgau: I totally agree. You’re having amazing success story. And the problem is, and we’re starting to write about this as well. Conflation, conflation of bad actors, with those who are good actors. Conflation with marketing use cases that don’t create no material harm, right? Because our free inboxes at Google may be filled up more, but if and when good actors adhere to your opt out, that marketing flow should stop. But conflating people who are doing things negatively or doing things in bad way or non-transparent ways with those good actors like Stirista, like Acxiom, like Dun& Bradstreet and dozens of others, is sensationalism and journalism that doesn’t create any benefits for us. In fact, does not tell the full and accurate truth of the benefits that are created or how real data is used by ethical companies.
Ajay Gupta: Chad, with a company like Acxiom that’s been around for a long time, recently got acquired by IPG, what are some of the things you’ve done in bigger picture terms to continue to build the brand and have that great reputation in the industry that you guys do. And especially with you taking over as the CEO?
Chad Engelgau: It’s been an amazing journey on almost the last three years. As I mentioned earlier, I did spend a year inside of another data and technology firm within IPG and booting that up to become a public company called Kinesso. And I think the biggest opportunity of course, is to be able to tell our story to more clients. IPG is a holding company, has thousands of their own unique customers who weren’t part of Acxiom’s thousands of customers. In my ability to be invited to the table to speak to CMOs, to speak with CEOs, to speak with heads of media and marketing or digital advertising, and share the power of first party data, especially to those companies who haven’t had a data strategy historically about the benefits it can create for them. Then I’ve seen over the last few years, a tremendous shift in these customer’s willingness to explore and of course, focus on, ” Okay, yeah, what is our data strategy? Okay, how does that inform how we’re going to operate as a business? How does that inform our technology decisions and what we need to be successful?” And I’ve been very pleased at the progress I’ve seen across numerous brands, we’re now reaching out with RFPs and RFIs and are leaning in to actually acquire technology they never thought about before or acquire datasets that they had never used historically, to be more data- driven. So, it’s just been a tremendous journey, in terms of getting to know new brands, hear about their unique challenges, issues and opportunities, as well as help them progress down this data- driven strategy.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Chad, for you and for Ajay, being CEOs, you guys are also very visible, you’re very involved with the customer journey. I see that from both of you, and I would imagine, like Ajay touched upon it but, meeting people in- person was a big thing. Part of what we did conferences, what did you do throughout that time to really for you to stay in front of customers? To maintain those strong customer experiences that you’re known for, and Acxiom is known for?
Chad Engelgau: You’re right Vincent, customer experience and of course, customer relationships are the foundation to any business, whether you’re direct consumer or you’re a B2B company like we are. And one of the things that we did was reboot our customer advisory board so that we went out to some of our top clients and created virtual events for them to simply come in and listen and inform our product strategy. We do first party research, we asked them, we were leaning in more to quarterly business reviews that are individually account teams were having and trying to drive specific messages. Not just about what we’re doing from a product perspective, what are we doing from a people perspective? DNI. How are we responding to the COVID environment itself? Do they have any feedback for some things we could be doing different or better in supporting them through this initiative as one of their primary service providers? But really trying to take those existing relationships which are readily available to us versus the new logo relationships, and doubling down on them understanding we’re willing to listen, and we want their feedback, creating forums for that. And really kudos to our marketing organization by creating just very high quality, interactive, digital first events that allowed for active real time engagement as well as recording of those webinars’ engagement for consumption after the fact for people who just couldn’t fit that into their schedule during those times. So, it is critical, going into pitches, helping them determine RFIs, anything and everything we can do. If you can’t get there in- person, you definitely can be there on a Zoom call. So, it’s been fun getting to know and reengage with more acts and clients and meet those who I didn’t know historically, as well as just try any and everything we can do to have a voice of the customer as part of our core business.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I’ve seen some of the webinars and there’s some podcast that you guys do as well. Can you tell me about some of those that you released? Tell the audience about some of those as well?
Chad Engelgau: Well, we appreciate the opportunity to share some of the cool things we’re doing like your Marketing Stir Podcast, which I heard has 30,000 subscribers, so you’re beating us there. So-
Vincent Pietrafesa: 48,000 listeners each episode, but it’s okay, who’s counting? crosstalk.
Chad Engelgau: We’re counting so. That’s great Vincent and we’ve done a lot in webinars. So, we’ve done some webinars for example, with Forrester and Ivy Tech Lab. We’d like to partner with third parties who also can provide thought leadership. So, what we do doesn’t come off sounding like an online infomercial or something like that. We really try to get at the heart of industry challenges and issues, our perspectives on them of course, but not just a product pitch. And so, the webinars are recorded and available centrally located on our homepage. So, if you do go to Acxiom. com and you click on the resources pull down, you can actually see our podcasts that are focused on industry verticals such as financial services, insurance, automotive. You can also see general content and technology around identity, utilization of data, COVID response and pivots those clients are taking in audience creation and activation. In fact, our data guru service just won an award for their real time engagement over the last year and a half with helping customers redefine audiences, since there was this tremendous swing of physical engagement with brands and of course, historic engagement, whether that was direct mail or email to a digital first approach, and how do you balance those things out? And how do you reach those kinds of people? So, across the board, we’re sharing what we’re learning as well as a brand, and helping empower as many clients as possible to pivot and take advantage of the economic opportunities that this pandemic actually created in many areas, even though it unfortunately did negatively impact a few verticals more than others.
Ajay Gupta: I think Chad, one of the things we have found useful in terms of the engagement on either LinkedIn or podcast has been this personal aspect that people are sharing, because lives are blending in as more and more people work remote. So, one of the questions I had for you was, our producers tell me that you wanted to be a rock star. So, we’d love to learn a little bit more about that part of your life as well?
Chad Engelgau: Great, clearly although I might look like Michael Stipe, I think is the closest I look like to now, I didn’t always look like this. I was not always this striking. It is funny because one of the first interviews I had, I got asked a question at the end, how did you learn to love marketing or whatever. And I was like, ” Oh, well, the rock band Kiss. Talk about a business. Kiss is a band, but they are clearly a business. There has probably been no greater merchandised entity outside of maybe Coca Cola. And you could argue maybe Kiss has exceeded the branding of their business compared to Coca Cola even. So, just the fact that these individuals, once you actually read anything about them besides just listening to their awesome music was, really smart people, highly motivated, had a business end in mind, could weather different changes in music styles and decades of business, but always stays focused on how do we delight kiss fans, the kiss army around the world? How do we stay relevant? How do we continue to merchandise and maximize our revenue, while again having a great time in meeting our customer needs? So, bands have done that through a variety of ways, and we see now some of our famous rock stars in the world Steven Tyler of Aerosmith. And leading shows like America’s Got Talent could use on that one. But the rock stars in the voice like Adam Levine?
Ajay Gupta: Yeah.
Chad Engelgau: They are showing up everywhere, it creates benefits for their bands, it creates benefit for us as people to get to know them. Entertainment is a business, and I think rock and roll for sure has done a great job marketing itself.
Ajay Gupta: This makes a whole lot more sense Chad, in the original interview just said, how did you learn about marketing, and it said Kiss. So, I was always intrigued by that. So-
Vincent Pietrafesa: We got a crack team of producers here I told you.
Chad Engelgau: Got to watch out for everything you think is on the internet.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Ajay Gupta: So, one question, which is our signature question. I’m sure as the CEO of Acxiom, you get tons of unsolicited emails and people trying to sell you all sorts of data that they found on an old CD. How do you decide who you’re going to talk to? And which ones do you respond to? Which ones annoy you the most?
Chad Engelgau: Excellent question. I think about that every day, because I have an email address that has been around for 14 years. And so, I literally get a dozen or more emails before 10: 00 AM every day that somebody bought off of some list somewhere. So, there’s way too much spam in our industry. And I think these creative or funny approaches in the business environment aren’t necessarily beneficial. The threat that they’re not going to get back with you if you actually don’t ask for their email. I always check all and delete it again, hoping that they’ll be treated their word. But I think the main thing like always like what’s, the value exchange? Can you give me some interesting insight and lead me to want more? Can you actually provide me with some industry research, or some valuable statistics that might pique my interest, versus just an onslaught in repetitive requests for my time or my information? And so, I think if you go to any marketing engagement with what’s the value exchange between yourself and the other individual, whether it’s in a business context or personal context, then you’re going to get somebody to show some interest, and then you can nurture that interest from there. I will say, it is amazing inaudible the power of data and how much interest Instagram alone can get based upon the algorithm of the things I consume to get me to go look at this old record or to buy this shirt or do other things, when you do it, right it’s a powerful tool. But when you do it wrong, as you said, it just is annoying. So, I think as industry providers, we need to keep that in mind at all times. What’s the value exchange?
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, no, I agree you put that in a very eloquent way of people saying, ” Hey, if you’re going to reach out to me, make sure it’s a decent match. Don’t waste my time, essentially.” So yeah, I feel the same way about just marketing in general, I talked about in this podcast, where I’ll discover a new brand because marketing presented it to me, and I was like, “I never heard of this brand. Todd Snyder, Charles Tyrwhitt, this is great. Look how great this shirt looks on me. I’m a slim fit? No way.” So, I love that aspect about our business. This is a small sliver of our business of course. So, Chad, let’s talk about as we wrap up here, shining moment, last 10 years that stood out to you for work?
Chad Engelgau: Absolutely just being part of… Our business at the end of the day, it was an amazing equity event, when Acxiom was sold, of course to IPG it creates a tremendous amount of value for IPG and IPG clients as well as Acxiom clients. It also created a tremendous amount of value for all of the shareholders of Acxiom stock as it migrated and transitioned into LiveRamp stock two and a half years ago. So, you can be proud of those things even though it’s separated the family so to speak, but at the end of the day, it created the best equitable outcome for shareholders and that’s what business is about. Then again, just being on this journey, again, coming in from being a product leader, to running all our product around data and identity at Acxiom to being their CMO and head a strategy, to now being able to take the helm so to speak as CEO. I’m just proud of all the people I work with, I have dozens and dozens of friends and literally hundreds of colleagues that I know and understand the impact they create for our clients each and every day. Just been a tremendous journey in the last 10 years to see what my choice to join Acxiom 14 years ago, does not only produce for myself, but produce for everyone that I work with, and our customers as well.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love hearing that. And then the next concert you’re going to, what’s the first concert back? I knew you’re a music fan. Because normally when we talk to you and you’re at home, there’s some sweet memorabilia in the background there. If you came to my apartment, there’d be some sports memorabilia there. What’s the first concert back and I will tell you mine?
Chad Engelgau: All right, well unfortunately, it was going to be ZZ Top. But Dusty Hill crosstalk-
Vincent Pietrafesa: Passed away. Yeah.
Chad Engelgau: …passed away. Interesting fact ZZ Top, the longest tenured band with original members. So, of course going all the way back to Degüello, right? inaudible. Those cats were amazing, but queued up behind that was of course The Black Crowes but when they canceled due to COVID they didn’t reschedule for Phoenix, but I am in fact a ticket holder for the Poison and… excuse-
Vincent Pietrafesa: Def Leppard, right?
Chad Engelgau: Def Leppard.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah.
Chad Engelgau: Motley Crue and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and are absolutely looking as I saw Guns and Roses just dropped their concert in, into August over here in Phoenix. So, inaudible see GNR may be a must again. They’re always amazing.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That’s awesome. Yeah, I had for Mother’s Day I purchased my wife, Lady Gaga whom I kid not I also like her music. I tried to point it out for my wife, but she had canceled. But then Elton John, the farewell tour. He wasn’t going out like that. So, Elton John, excuse me on March 2nd, Elton John at the Barclay Center here in Brooklyn. So great catching up with you as always Chad. I can’t wait to meet you in person, I feel like I’ve known you for years. We always appreciate your time. I love what you’re doing. I love how you break it down for us and our listeners. Keep up the amazing work there at Acxiom. Ladies and gentlemen, that is Chad Engelgau, the CEO of Acxiom. I am Vincent Pietrafesa. That’s Ajay Gupta and this has been the Marketing Stir. Thank you so much. Season two premiere. Thank you.
Jared Walls: Thanks for listening to the Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate and subscribe. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, email us at the firstname.lastname@example.org, and thanks for listening.