October 03, 2007

More On Compiled Lists Like Abacus

Talking about Abacus caused this blog to have it's top-rated day ever, in terms of RSS/E-Mail subscribers reading content.

It's always good to stimulate the 25% of the audience that reads this blog because of the catalog content.

You catalog folks tend to be shy, so I'm not expecting a lot of comments on the following questions. If you'd like, please join in on the conversation.

Question #1: If you were in the list rental/brokerage business (i.e. Millard/Mokrynski among many others), how would you restructure your business to compete against the likes of Abacus?

Question #2: If you were in the compiled list business, how would you evolve your business to compete against marketing activities like paid search (the digital/online version of a compiled list)?

Question #3: If you are a catalog circulation expert, what are the reasons you choose compiled lists over traditional list rental/exchange activities?



  1. Hi Kevin,

    As usual a lot of thought-provoking dialog. Although I'm no longer a cataloguer, I'll get the ball rolling.

    Q1: As a broker, I would focus on establishing private exchanges between compatible clients and provide better service/enhanced terms like net names, re-use. I also think there is potential for combining rentals of postal names and email addresses.

    Q2: I think if the co-ops applied their models to email addresses, they could compete successfully against pay per click. There may also be a huge opportunity with an ad-serving network like Aquantive or Doubleclick.

    Q3: Bottomline, the co-ops work. Although you cede control, the models always performed better than traditional lists.

  2. Maybe a premium for renting postal names that come with e-mail addresses?

    A threat for the list rental and compiled list industry is the rampant sharing of information ... so at odds with the e-commerce model of not sharing name/address, but sharing
    "information" through a third party (i.e. Google). One would think that consumers would eventually get tired of Lillian Vernon or Eddie Bauer or Appleseeds putting your name and address out there for everybody to enjoy. Yet, there hasn't been much blowback from this time-honored tradition that allows catalogers to grow.

  3. I'm not a cataloguer either, but worked in the compiled list and processing industry for many years (Experian/Direct Tech), so have some ideas on your first 2 questions.

    Question 1: To compete with the Abacus' of the world, as a data owner/manager/broker, I would think outside of the box in terms of terms. For example, I might offer up my data to be added to a prospecting database, with very attractive net name arrangements. Heck, I may even partner with a database provider and package my data with the database (of course with the option of adding in other lists). Simply said, I'd make it easy for my clients to work with me and make my data easy to access. If my data were housed in an easy-to-access prospecting database, I bet that many more records would be mailed, hence I'd make more $ and would be able to compete more effectively with the compilers.

    Question 2: As a compiler, I would beef up my analytical prowess and not rely quite as much on RFM to select my list. I would step outside my mailing list world and talk to my clients about how to analyze multi-channel activities, or how to implement a contact strategy unique to each prospect/customer. In other words, I would attempt to de-commoditize (is that a word?) myself and my data. I'd try to become entrenched with the client through analytics always with the end-goal of improving the use of the data I sell.

  4. Some of the list vendors seem to be going down the path you suggest, regarding prospect databases.

    I'd love to see the list industry capitalize on search marketing. Catalogers trust the folks in the list industry, catalogers are less likely to trust a search expert in the Bay Area.

    And ultimately, search is comparable to the list industry in many ways.

  5. This is in response to Question 3. As a catalog circulation manager, the primary reasons that I rent names from the compiled lists/models are: lower cost, better performance, higher net out % after the merge process, and because of the larger universe of prospecting names available. However, I still rent traditional lists and do exchanges based on ROI.

  6. So Nancy, do you think about the kind of customers you get via compiled lists, and measure lifetime value of those names vs. others?

    I get differing feedback on that topic when I visit clients ... most seem to accept that the world is different today, and compiled lists just perform better.

  7. Yes, I do believe that the buyers obtained through compiled lists are different than those acquired through other rental lists and/or channels. I have been working with our service bureau so that our LTV reporting will be available by list as well as by channel.


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