Fast Forward Panelists: Multiple Sources Change Nature of Data for List Industry

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NEW YORK - Only the fittest will survive with an increase in the level of competition in the list industry as data evolves over the years, according to panelists at the Direct Marketing Association's Fast Forward 2006 event Aug. 15.

Ten years ago the list industry had limited demographic information and no Web site data. Not so today.

"Today's data has truly evolved," said panel moderator Polly Bickel, associate vice president of strategic consulting at Belardi/Ostroy ALC, New York.

Data available today has advanced to the point that lists can be enhanced with lifestyle, inferred and self-reported information. As lists evolve, so does client data, since customers now make transactions through three different channels.

Web information comes from e-mail marketing results, paid search campaigns, affiliate and publisher campaigns, and site-navigational behavior.

In addition a lot of information is self-reported. For example, demographics such as contact preferences and permissions.

"With the introduction of search came the ability to look at people's intentions," said Mark Friedman, chief digital marketing officer at Warnaco, New York. "Marketers can now target in a way never available before."

In next ten years, real time Web activity will be able to be tied to offline behavior, Ms. Bickel said.

"A big problem is figuring out how to manage the volume of data," said Tom Hochstatter, director of business development at Yahoo Search Marketing. "But it is important to first understand the traditional business and then weave the two together."

Each marketing channel has its own opportunities for sales.

"Companies need to consider what percentage of sales comes from which channel and then deciding on how much of the budget to allocate to each," said Michael Zimbalist, vice president of research and development operations at the New York Times Company.

"Look at the whole picture," Mr. Zimbalist said.

Make no mistake: It's a war out there and the vendors who are "in the know" - as Ms. Bickel said - are the ones that will make the cut.

"Online marketing has left the more traditional channels in the dust because it can tell marketers exactly what triggered the transaction," said Marion Sharkey, vice president of marketing at Hanover Direct, Weehawken, NJ.

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