MapInfo Markets Polk's Demographic Data

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Desktop mapping software company MapInfo Corp., hoping to fill what it sees as a deficiency in the quality of demographic data and cluster analysis available to businesses, plans to begin selling its market analysis technology with the 111 million U.S. households' worth of data held by new MapInfo partner The Polk Co.

The agreement between MapInfo, Troy, NY, and Polk allows MapInfo to market Polk's demographic and segmentation data and add cluster analysis to MapInfo's TargetPro market analysis software. TargetPro with cluster analysis is designed to let businesses target new customers by comparing the demographic profile of customers they already have to the profile of a mailing list or geographic area. Users then can examine data through reports on spreadsheets or on an interactive map that pops onto their screens. The product is slated for availability Nov. 1.

Michael Hickey, vice president and general manager of MapInfo's Information Business unit, said the new offering is filling a technology gap for both direct marketers and retailers.

"In my career, I've never seen anything like this where you have a marketplace that's just totally asking for other alternatives. They don't like the products that are being offered to them, the choices that they are having to make. They don't like the people they're being forced to work with," he said, adding that Polk sought out MapInfo as a partner so it could avoid having to set up a sales force and build marketing channels on its own. MapInfo works with more than 400 resellers in the United States.

"Polk had these assets and they thought about going to the market themselves," Hickey said. "But we were a natural fit for them because we're already in this space. We've built up a brand, but their data allows us to take our products to a different level."

MapInfo already has sold TargetPro -- minus cluster analysis -- to retailers that use it to analyze their customer bases when deciding where to open franchises and newspaper chains for examining the demographics of their different delivery zones. Direct mail businesses also have bought TargetPro for targeting purposes.

Polk, Southfield, MI, which built its business by providing data to the automotive industry, has demographic and lifestyle data that it accumulates from states' vehicle registration information, warranty cards on consumer goods and other sources.

"They're adding the demographic component, the segmentation component of the solution. We'll wrap it up under our brand and put it all together and be able to sell it through a partnered channel," Hickey said.

Marketers who want full nationwide data will pay prices starting at $25,000 a pop for TargetPro with cluster analysis, but MapInfo can slice and dice data built into the units based on whatever a particular marketer needs. A module for doing basic demographic analysis of one state, for example, might run only $1,500. Customers will license the platform, usually on an annual basis, and will get data updates from MapInfo on CD-ROMs. MapInfo will pay Polk a royalty on its sales.

Hickey said MapInfo's channel partners have shown an "unbelievable amount of enthusiasm" for the technology.

Jon Winslow, product marketing manager at MapInfo, declined to name specific interested parties but said the company has received preliminary interest from a restaurant chain, an outdoor advertising concern and a telecommunications firm that uses direct mail and by telephone direct marketing.

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