Direct Media Debuts BTB Database

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Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT, earlier this month launched the Business Mailers Alliance, its cooperative transactional database for business-to-business mailers. The endeavor is the only competition in the market for Abacus Direct's BTB database.

"Cooperative databases are wonderful things; they've been really revolutionary for direct marketing," said David Florence, CEO of Direct Media.

The idea for the new database was conceived a few years ago based on the success of the Abacus Alliance database of more than 88 million consumer households, Florence said.

"We looked at the success of Abacus and our pretty good success with a similar consumer product called SmartBase," Florence said. "Then we decided if this works for consumers, it will work for business-to-business."

SmartBase was sold to Abacus Direct in February by Direct Media's former owner, Acxiom Corp.

The Abacus Alliance BTB database was officially started more than two years ago because of the number of mailers in the consumer database that conduct BTB mailing as well, said Bill Hubbell, vice president of business-to-business at Abacus Direct, Broomfield, CO, a division of DoubleClick Inc. The consumer database is a huge resource for the BTB database, he said.

"If somebody were to go out and simply acquire business transaction data from business-to-business catalogers, they would have a much weaker answer for mailers than we do because of our consumer database," Hubbell said.

When Direct Media bought back its independence from Acxiom earlier this year, one of its goals was to strengthen its BTB representation.

"I started [Direct Media's] first prospecting database back in the '70s, so we've been at it for 25 years," Florence said.

The BMA database will not replace traditional prospecting databases, Florence said. It provides an additional source of new names to whom BTB buyers may not be mailing, he said.

Like the Abacus Alliance, the Business Mailers Alliance is a blind database available only to its members. Neither Hubbell nor Florence would comment on the number of participants or names in their respective databases.

Both databases can be used by members for prospecting and house file optimization. Participants in the BMA database pay a base rate of $65 per thousand, which includes all selection charges and modeling. A net name arrangement of 85 percent with $5/M running charges on unused names is also applied to all orders.

Hubbell confirmed that Abacus' pricing structure is similar.

Members of the BMA database are required to provide 0- to 24-month buyers with transactional data, including dollar amount, date of last purchase, frequency of purchase, channel source and product category. Missing data will be inferred based on other characteristics of the particular mailer's file.

The database will be enhanced with detailed information, including SIC codes, number of employees and company size.

Members are allowed to restrict competitors in the database from accessing their names. All restrictions are reciprocal.

The cutoff for participating in the file's first build is Friday. The database will update monthly and it is maintained by Acxiom. n

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