Acxiom’s John Campos Drives Excellence by Never Settling for “Good Enough”

The vice president and global head of automotive at Acxiom leads a team dedicated to helping its auto clients navigate the changing digital landscape of consumer marketing

John Campos, VP & Global Head of Automotive, Axciom Photo: Paul Viefhaus

John Campos was raised in a “blue-collar-ish” family. His father’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, while his mother’s family grew up on an Indian reservation in Kansas (where his grandmother still lives today). He was raised in an environment that celebrated and appreciated its roots, encouraging the hard work required to continue growing and challenging yourself. Campos learned a slew of lessons during his upbringing, but one from his father stands out and continues to guide him through his professional career: “never be content.”

“If you are content with your work, you’re not improving,” Campos says. “This has evolved into my motivation to continue to develop and constantly take on new challenges for me and on behalf of my clients.”

Campos was the first member of his family—on both his mother’s and father’s side—to graduate from college. After graduation, he worked at Country Companies for a few years before joining Acxiom as a contractor in 2000.

While Campos’s initial role at Acxiom was a technical one, involving the development of a customer loyalty solution, by the time he was hired full-time in 2002, he had discovered his passion for helping solve client problems. His interest in engaging with clients, listening to their issues, and designing solutions continued to grow over the next twelve years in account management roles. Now, Campos stands as vice president and global head of automotive, where he uses his father’s advice to fuel his work and inspire his team members.

“If you are content with your work, you’re not improving.”

Throughout his tenure, Campos has witnessed considerable developments in the marketing strategy of automotive clients. The path to auto purchase has changed dramatically in this digitally disrupted landscape. Consumers still visit dealerships, but their path to purchase also includes online research, reviews, and comparison. The challenges for the automotive industry are to recognize and understand the customer across all channels of engagement, to deliver a frictionless, easy buying experience and to provide an all-around satisfying purchase and ownership experience that consumers desire.

Campos’s team helps Acxiom’s automotive clients make consumers’ experiences engaging, relevant, and seamless throughout the purchase and ownership journey. Doing this successfully requires creating a unified data framework through which automotive clients can harness digital and offline data to fuel the great marketing technologies that are available today to create a better customer experience.

“By bringing together all data in a unified data layer, our clients can see the full picture and better understand the consumer’s interest and needs,” Campos explains. “That helps them deliver a more relevant message to them.” If a consumer previously purchased an SUV, for instance, clients can deduce that he or she might have a growing family and require a vehicle with more space. Acxiom can then use this insight to help the auto client develop a strategy to cater advertisements to their shoppers. Campos says, “We help our clients use these data elements to get to know their customer and drive insight that can be leveraged to help create a more productive consumer experience.”

Before the explosion of channels, traditional automotive marketing strategies involved a much more hands-on approach. For example, automotive manufacturers would reach out to a known selection of customers via mail, requesting that they visit dealerships to test drive vehicles. However today, the more contemporary method uses data-driven strategies to determine what kinds of consumers would be interested in specific vehicles, making the shopping experience more personalized to the individual.

“Acxiom has remained focused on people-based marketing, even as technology has changed.”

Using data assets also helps Campos and his team add insight and inform clients on how to best promote offers and incentives through the various channels. Campos says that having more data and more technology brings both opportunity and challenge. The expansion of channels has created the potential for brands to deliver less-personal experiences if they don’t use data to really understand their customers and prospects across digital and offline interactions.

Campos adds, “This is what Acxiom’s Unified Data Layer framework is all about; we assess how we can bring together the right data and technology to make digital and real-world experiences feel relevant and personal. At Acxiom, we’ve been focused on people-based marketing for fifty years. As digital disruption has taken hold, it turns out this transformation has revealed Acxiom’s core strength: know your customer, through data and technology, to deliver customer experiences that matter. This is still true today, especially as the channels for engaging with customers have fragmented and expanded.”

The magnitude of Campos’s role still excites him every day: “The energy my team has to help top automotive brands achieve their goals inspires me, and it is helping Acxiom become the gold-standard for data-driven automotive marketing.” As a leader, Campos guides his team to embrace their roles as marketing strategy thought leaders and to continue pursuing ever increasing levels of excellence. He encourages members to take calculated risks, work toward a greater goal, maintain an entrepreneurial mindset, and treat clients with the same respect one would treat his or her own business. As marketing strategy and technology evolve, he inspires the automotive team to embrace and embody the same motivation he was given by his father: never be content.

“We need to push ourselves. I encourage my teams to challenge one another because that’s what creates the spirit of innovation. I want them to take on situations out of their comfort zone—don’t run away from them. The world is changing fast, so must we. You have to find that positive element and let it guide you through that change to the right place.”


Christiane De Carvalho on Targeting the World

Francisco Garcia Guides the Marketing Model at Merkari