Omeda Purchased Hallmark Data Systems

As I reflect on my time at Omeda, a lot has changed over the years, but the past four years have been truly transformative. Rarely can you point to the exact moment that sparked such transformation, but in this case, I know exactly when it started. On March 1, 2016, we purchased Hallmark Data Systems from EBSCO Industries. Other than the founding of the company in 1981, the acquisition was probably the most influential event to happen in Omeda’s history.

Like most acquisitions, there were opportunities and challenges, and I was nervous and excited for what lay ahead. Luckily, we had built a great team, including our outside advisors. The team already had several successful acquisitions under their collective belts – one of them being our then recent purchase of Sunbelt. Through that experience, we gained knowledge on integrating talented people into our culture and managing client expectations. Hallmark, while similar to Sunbelt, was much larger in scale. Looking back, I remember several members of the Hallmark team saying they were surprised by the deal because they figured Hallmark would be buying Omeda, not the other way around. At the end of the day, we understood that if we were going to turn Omeda into the company we knew it could be, we needed to scale in terms of clients and talent. The Hallmark deal allowed us to do both.

We have been very fortunate that over the last four years most of our plans have been realized. There were, of course, bumps in the road but, we handled them well and none was big enough to knock us off our path. We were able to successfully onboard most of the Hallmark clients and team – introducing them to and integrating them into our culture and way of doing business. Unfortunately, we did lose a few more clients than I would have liked, as many thought we had become too big to serve them. However, I’m particularly excited that we brought many of them back, as they saw what we were building.

At the end of the day, I’m extremely happy with how Omeda has evolved and transformed, and the Hallmark acquisition was a key piece in our progression. We have been lucky that most of the Hallmark team is still with us. Also, we have been able to attract and retain new talent that has further built on the familial culture my dad started. We have taken advantage of our new scale, both from a size and talent perspective, to build out new products and update older ones at a pace we never would have been able to handle beforehand. The accomplishment I’m probably most proud of has been the change from being more of an operational partner to now being more of a proactive partner with clients. That being said, we know we still need to handle the operational parts of our clients’ business seamlessly. To that end, we have successfully pivoted to helping our clients across their entire business, especially by managing their audience and then activating it across their different revenue streams and marketing channels. As firm believers in Innovator’s Dilemma theory, we still have a lot of work to do in this regard and will always keep innovating, but that’s the fun part.

New Products We Have Developed

Our growth in terms of clients and employees, has enabled us to further expand our Audience Relationship Management Platform and introduce new products and services at a much faster pace. The two products that immediately come to mind are our Marketing Automation Platform and our Customer Data Platform that we built out over the past four years.

Successfully creating these two products expanded our clients’ experiences with our platform and transformed our relationship as increasingly proactive partners. We were able to simplify our clients’ marketing tech stacks and make audience outreach smarter, faster, and more intuitive. These platforms still sit on top of our first-party audience data management platforms that we have specialized in for the past 39 years – since Omeda started. We’ve increased upon our foundational understanding of first-party audience and behavioral data. Focusing on how to organize, maintain, and utilize the data has helped to create fully integrated solutions that are actionable for our clients.

The Omeda Idea Exchange Media Event

Another element of our business that we have created in the past four years is our annual Omeda Idea Exchange (OX event). This client conference has been a great success, and we are currently approaching our fourth year. The first year, at OX1, we had 52 attendees. This year for OX4, which is on April 27-29, 2020, we’re hoping to have around 300 attendees. We are truly excited at how fast this conference has grown.

We decided to call the event series “Omeda Idea Exchange” because we wanted to introduce an industry event where our clients can learn from one another, share ideas across disciplines and network together. We didn’t want this to be an Omeda-centric event, so we built it in a way that the focus is our clients, and Omeda just hosts. Frankly, it’s a ton of fun to bring all of our partners together and to cultivate an environment for personal and corporate growth.

Hosting this event every year has been a huge learning opportunity for our team, who all work very hard to exceed our previous year’s performance. As the event has expanded, we’ve gained a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t. This has allowed us to better appreciate the event industry and to explore opportunities to integrate new features and products that may benefit our clients.

One of my favorite aspects of the Omeda Idea Exchange is the in-person element. As the world becomes more digital, face-to-face meetings continue to become less common, despite their increased value. Our event generates three days of opportunities to create genuine, authentic connections with peers in media – whether it be within organizations who may bring 10-12 employees, or across businesses with other industry professionals. There is a lot of value creation and learning that can be done outside of a typical work environment.

Overall, I would say we have surpassed all of our initial expectations during the creation of the Omeda Idea Exchange. It has been incredibly rewarding to see what we envisioned come to fruition.

Strengthening Our Client Partnerships

The last point I’ll make about how Omeda has grown over the past four years is regarding the relationship we have with our clients. We’ve truly become partners with the entire organization, from the CEOs to digital officers, audience development teams, salespeople, and marketers. We’ve become subject matter experts and trusted advisors in many areas in addition to continuing our daily routine and tasks. Doing business with them may be one element of the partnership, but we also have been able to build strong relationships with many individual people at these companies. That’s why we like to refer to our clients as friends, because that’s what many have become.

Seeing clients all over the country at various industry shows and events has created personal connections. This also sparked the idea for Omeda to form two committees – a Client Advisory Board and an Executive Advisory Board – where we can get together with our clients throughout the year in different locations to discuss current industry events and learn from one another. We want to be a part of the community and foster a positive space from which everyone benefits.

Additionally, as the industry continues to evolve, the value of what we are doing for our clients has increased. With data privacy policies and legislation becoming a major component of marketing and business in general, we understand the significance of what our clients are relying on us to do. As their customer database platform provider, we recognize the responsibility we have managing their data. We greatly appreciate the level of trust that we’ve been able to form and take a great amount of care to protect one of the most valuable assets of our clients’ businesses. Through helping our clients find success and grow, we also have grown, and it’s very rewarding to see the outcomes that both sides have had as we work together.

The Future of Media – Where We’re Headed

What about looking forward into the future of media and content marketing? As third-party cookies and information continue to fade out due to data privacy legislation, first-party data is becoming more valuable than ever. I think that our clients are extremely well-positioned to capitalize on these advancing changes.

Our clients can identify and understand their audiences by using the data they already possess. If they generate strong, smart content to draw their audience in, our clients will be at the forefront of providing the exact information that consumers in their industries desire. Additionally, when clients output great content, consumers are not only going to want to read it, they’re going to need to read it. Creating demand-generating content can provide further opportunities to expand clients’ audiences, such as through gated content. Whether it’s paid content, or simply asking for an email address, publishers and content creators can continue to grow their businesses with quality content.

At Omeda, we want to help our clients find success and operate across all the different channels. We believe the key is still creating great content and knowing your audience. When organizations have those skills, they are successful; the channels and mediums used to then distribute content and target audiences are secondary. From there, with the proper setup of their databases, our clients can even venture into data science, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence to enhance their efforts. These concepts have been buzzwords for a few years now, but I think that people are finally realizing that they can and should implement campaigns involving these tactics, because that’s where the future is headed.

While all of this sounds great at 40,000 feet, the tools need to work in order to monetize and drive better ROI. That’s where Omeda is focusing. We are constantly driving to build and explore solutions that will better integrate current industry needs into our tools, while continuing to combine and simplify each clients’ Martech stack. We’ve taken out the complexity of having data sit in five to eight different silos by combining it all into one platform, making it actionable and trusted. Since that is done, the next step is implementing needed features. Consent management platforms will allow our clients to comply as legislation continues to become stricter in terms of data privacy and audience information. Data science can assist in finding the value in content that is being produced and how that content is shared and marketed. I’m excited to see how our clients will continue to find ways to utilize our platform as we expand it to further their success.

Overall, as our company has evolved, we have consistently focused on the future of media and the content marketing landscape. Our position in the market uniquely allows Omeda to concentrate on providing value. How can we help the industry grow and get better in the areas where we are experts – with data, content and first-party audiences. A rising tide lifts all boats, and Omeda’s boat rises with our clients’. We are constantly striving to improve the industry and our clients’ performance alike.  That, and all the great people with whom I get to work, are the reasons I am excited to come to work every day.

Aaron