Reader's Digest Selects Mal Dunn as List Manager

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TORONTO -- Reader's Digest Association Inc. selected Mal Dunn Associates, Croton Falls, NY, as the new list manager for its customer databases, the company announced at a meeting here this week near the site of the DMA annual convention. The Pleasantville, NY, publisher, speaking before a group of mailers and brokers, also told attendees at the breakfast meeting that its massive list of buyers from its Books and Home Entertainment division will become available during the first quarter of next year.

"We've always specialized in large publishing accounts and in keeping them for a long time," said Stephen Dunn, president of Mal Dunn.

The company, which counts more than 90 percent of its lists as publishing titles, also manages the subscriber lists for such titles as Time and U.S. News and World Report.

The 6 million-name Reader's Digest file has been available for the past two years, and was handled at the launch by Direct Media Inc., Greenwich, CT. Sources within Direct Media said the company was no longer interested in managing the Reader's Digest file.

Dianne Silverman, who heads up the list marketing operations at Reader's Digest, said Mal Dunn was selected after seeking proposals from several list management companies.

"I thought they could be aggressive with the file," she said. "They just seemed to be a good fit. Our resources and needs seemed to fit their skills and readiness."

She also said that Reader's Digest's efforts to boost its circulation are helping build the file up after several years of declining circulation, and she said the company was testing some nonsweepstakes direct mail offers, which will allow mailers to select some more names that have not been acquired through sweepstakes.

She also said that the company's recent alliances to offer credit cards and insurance products to its database are precluding outside companies from making similar offers, but she is seeking to determine whether or not some insurance products might be allowed eventually.

"We're trying to discover some product lines that are noncompetitive," she said.

Silverman said the company had not yet determined how much of the Books and Home Entertainment file would be made available for rental or exchange. Many of the names are duplicates of the magazine subscriber file, and the company still has to complete an opt-out process for the BHE customers who have purchased books, videos or audio products from Reader's Digest.

Nancy O'Reilly, director of client development and acquisitions at Mal Dunn, estimated that the file could include anywhere from 3 million to 15 million names.

The company also is working with Experian, Orange, CA, to provide modeling for the file; and Reader's Digest also will build models inhouse for noncompetitors.

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