*NetCreations Agrees to Merge/Purge on Lists

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E-mail list development and management firm NetCreations Inc. will begin to allow its lists to be merged/purged with lists controlled by other owners and managers using IntraMerge, an encryption technology software, the company announced yesterday.

NetCreations, New York, said it has agreed to submit its lists to a merge/purge process specifically on behalf of FastBridge, a new unit of the multinational media agency Initiative Media Worldwide. FastBridge also will assemble the other e-mail lists it wants to dedupe.

IntraMerge is a software program recently developed by IntraSource, Englewood, NJ, a data services firm. IntraMerge enables list owners to encrypt their lists by assigning match codes and ID numbers to their e-mail addresses. Then IntraSource, acting as a neutral, third-party service bureau, would merge/purge the encrypted lists and deliver them back to the owners, which then would execute the mailings themselves.

While the merge/purge of separately owned lists is an everyday occurrence in the direct mail market, there is no one doing this in the e-mail list industry. Through the IntraMerge software and its clearinghouse functions, IntraSource seeks to soothe the two obstacles that have so far kept e-mail list owners from agreeing to merge/purges: turning over control of their lists to competitors, and maintaining their privacy pledges to list members.

"Now mailers no longer need to be concerned with the embarrassment of sending prospecting e-mails to their existing customer files or multiple messages being sent to the same e-mail address [and] resulting in opt-outs and causing customer complaints," said Greg Williams, managing partner at IntraSource.

These safeguards were a factor in convincing NetCreations and FastBridge to agree to work with IntraMerge.

"FastBridge is excited to be able to offer our clients the opportunity to employ a similar merge/purge system that traditional direct marketers have been doing for years, while maintaining the privacy issues surrounding this new medium," said Lori Greenberg, vice president and account director at FastBridge Worldwide. "This concept of e-mail merge/purging eliminates duplication and maximizes return on investment."

Rosalind Resnick, NetCreations chairwoman/CEO, described the introduction of IntraMerge, and her company's decision to use it, as a big step forward for opt-in e-mail marketing. Prior to last week's announcement, Resnick had been lobbying her industry colleagues about finding a way to merge/purge their respective e-mail lists. In an interview earlier this year, she said the lack of a standardized merge/purge system puts a damper on the entire practice of e-mail marketing. At the time, Resnick said she planned to make it a "personal priority" to encourage e-mail marketers to reach a consensus on acceptable merge/purge procedures.

NetCreations is in the process of being acquired by DoubleClick in a merger that would create a database of more than 30 million single and double opt-in e-mail names. NetCreations' relationship with IntraMerge applies only to PostMasterDirect e-mails lists.

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