Experian, MeritDirect Team on BTB Co-Op Database

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Experian and MeritDirect collaborated to launch b2bBase, a cooperative database for business-to-business direct marketers, the companies said yesterday.

The database contains transactional data from all participants, plus data from Costa Mesa, CA-based Experian's National Business Database, which includes verified information such as standard industry classification code, employee size and sales volume on 16 million U.S. businesses. It also allows custom acquisition and retention models to be built for each mailer.

The database is available immediately and includes 11 participants contributing up to 60 months of transactional data and 11 million records to date, said Bill Murphy, senior vice president, marketing and product development at Experian Marketing Services, Schaumburg, IL.

"We've been working with MeritDirect on this for about six to eight months, but our clients have been asking for it for years," he said. "We thought this was the right opportunity."

This is Experian's first foray into the BTB cooperative database arena. Its two business-to-consumer cooperative databases are Z-24 for catalogers and CircBase for publishers.

Murphy said that the firms' estimate that the database would reach 35 million transactions by year's end was conservative, and he expects to blow it away.

"In the cooperative space you need a certain volume before it really becomes powerful and reaches critical mass, and we project we will have that by the end of the year," he said.

Even so, b2bBase has a way to go before it catches up to the more than 1 billion transactions that DoubleClick's Abacus B2B Alliance claims.

MeritDirect handles list management duties for b2bBase, which is fully commissionable to all recognized list brokers.

Though MeritDirect has an in-house BTB database called MeritBase, it is not a cooperative database and will not be competitive to b2bBase.

"MeritBase is a terrific tool for prospecting by list name and selection but it doesn't carry any transaction information," said Christopher Pickering, vice president of database marketing at MeritDirect, White Plains, NY. "A logical complement to that is a large cooperative database that has transaction information, is built for business-to-business mailers, is selectable by model score and uses business-to-business name matching logic."

He also stressed that despite MeritDirect's involvement in building the database and modeling efforts, the firm will not be privy to any confidential information from non-clients.

The list of participants in b2bBase is available only to other participating mailers.

Further information on b2bBase is available from Ed Larkin, director of sales at MeritDirect, at elarkin@meritdirect.com or 518/399-5376.


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