List Brokers Are Ready to Pounce on New Files

After a year when few new files entered the list market, list brokers were happy to hear that new lists soon will be available, but they also said there are ways to compensate in tough times.

The list community recently learned that J.C. Penney Co. Inc. and Publishers Clearing House would make lists available to mailers shortly.

J.C. Penney awarded list management duties for its catalog buyer file to Millard Group Inc., Peterborough, NH, and expects to have files operating on an exchange-only basis by mid-March. Publishers Clearing House was expected to name a list manager for some of its files by March 1 and plans to have the files on the market over the next few months.

While the PCH files had been unavailable to the list community since the early 1990s, the J.C. Penney names were never before on the market.

“In terms of lists like J.C. Penney and Publishers Clearing House, it's always a good thing for our clients when a large new list comes onto the market, especially one where you can really do a job segmenting it and pulling out those nuggets that are going to work for your client,” said Steve Tamke, senior vice president at Mokrynski & Associates Inc., Hackensack, NJ.

Though it is unclear what the counts or segments will be on the files, both are expected to be large and highly selectable, he said.

Given the wide appeal of J.C. Penney and Publishers Clearing House, list professionals see selectivity as important on these files.

“Segmentation is going to be key on such mass-market files,” said Ryan Lake, CEO of Lake Group Media, Rye, NY.

Even so, there have been few new lists in the past couple years except for the Internet buyers at postal address or Internet registrants, he said.

New files that list brokers can recommend to clients are always in demand.

“Every mailer out there — be it a cataloger, credit card company, a financial magazine, a consumer magazine, a fundraiser — they're always looking for new lists. That's basically our lifeblood,” said Kim Lowenthal, director of list brokerage at American List Counsel, Princeton, NJ.

Still, even when new files aren't hitting the market, brokers must find test recommendations for their clients. At least one list professional said that retests make up a good part of his recommendations.

“In terms of finding new sources of names for our clients, we recommend they use lists that they've walked away from in the past,” Tamke said. “We call it hidden gold. You have a much better shot with a list that almost made it in the past than with a list you never tried.”

Lowenthal cited enhanced databases as a fruitful source of test names.

“People are building better databases using the various compilations of consumer and business information,” he said. “Years ago it was just Experian and Polk and Donnelley, and now there's maybe eight of them including KnowledgeBase and MarketShare to choose from.”

Most list brokers await the day that more response-based e-mail files hit the market.

“I think there will be more and more e-mail addresses out there in the future as economic factors impact the market,” Lake said.

Though many publishers have started releasing their e-mail names, catalogers have been slow to do so except at postal address.

“All it will take is one or two to put their names out, and hopefully others will follow,” Lake said.

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