New Products and Technology Help Equifax Marketing Services Division

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NEW YORK -- Equifax Inc.'s marketing services business unit has increased 11 percent so far this year over the same period last year, thanks in part to new products and services, a focus on the customer and a growing use of a new supercomputer technology that relies on parallel processing.

These were the key components of a meeting here at the Waldorf-Astoria on Sept. 7 with Owen Flynn, group executive for marketing services at Equifax. The interview was part of Equifax's investor day program.

"Over the past six quarters, we've gotten very solid traction in the marketing services business," Mr. Flynn said. "Currently, the entire marking services industry is $4.7 billion and is highly fragmented. The fragmentation offers great opportunity for growth, specifically in the database management entity, and this particular segment of the industry is $2.3 billion in size and growing at 10 percent."

Atlanta GA-based Equifax's marketing services business unit is comprised of three divisions--credit marketing services, direct marketing services and database management services. Its database management services division was formed in August 2005, when Equifax acquired BeNow Inc., a provider database management, analytics and support to better structure customer marketing campaigns to optimize relationships through vertical market expertise.

In the first half of the year, the database management services division sold eight databases, along with analysis and modeling and other services.

"Through our database management division, we are really leveraging our customer relationships," Mr. Flynn said. "In the past, we used to sell credit data and sell consumer data, but we took it to somewhere else to add value. Now we are adding the value."

Mr. Flynn said that in the past two years, Equifax's marketing services unit has come out with a suite of solutions called TargetPoint Acquisition that allows marketers to be more precise in targeting prospects and clients.

Equifax is also relying heavily on its supercomputer technology called Accel.

"We acquired proprietary code and developed this technology about three years ago and began to develop it about two years ago," Mr. Flynn said. "It uses massive parallel processing that allows us to process at incredibly fast speeds, and has great flexibility in its processing power."

Mr. Flynn said the marketing services business unit is run on this technology, and it has allowed the divisions to bring products to the market faster.

"We came out with some canned or generic products called to enhance the targeting for the midmarket, which has pretty much being ignored by markets today," Mr. Flynn said. "We can build those products and deploy those products very quickly with Accel."

In addition, the technology allows marketing services to "integrate and leverage the data assets of credit marketing services and direct marketing services, and we couldn't do that before," Mr. Flynn said. "For example, a credit marketer today can integrate lifestyle data and demographic data seamlessly with credit data to customize the offer they send to their customers and prospects. They couldn't do that before."

Mr. Flynn said much of the success the business unit is enjoying--as well as its future efforts -- is wrapped around Accel technology.

"The technology has given us the capability and the flexibility to do so much," he said. "We are just scratching the surface right now, and we are really excited about it."

In 2006 Mr. Flynn said key growth strategies for Equifax's Marketing Services business unit include:

  • Using the full power of the business unit's credit marketing, direct marketing and database management services divisions.
  • Developing enhanced targeting solutions for credit marketing using demographic and lifestyle data.
  • Creating new products using Accel.
  • And adding and originating new data sources.

"We are continually looking for ways to acquire a broad array of data across different industry-specific sources," Mr. Flynn said. "Data is at the center of everything we do. The health and well-being of marketing services is heavily, heavily dependent on data. The fresher the data, the more of it, the better."

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