National Geographic Society Explores List Rental

The National Geographic Society on April 3 begins exploring new territory – delving into the list rental space in an effort to keep up with established list sources.

The 112-year-old nature and science society named list management and brokerage firm American List Counsel, Princeton, NJ, to manage the company’s 1.5 million inactive members, those who haven’t been active members for seven months. ALC also will manage the Society’s 240,000 video buyers, 750,000 book buyers and 150,000 catalog buyers.

“In this competitive environment, National Geographic has decided that now is the right time to embark on this list management initiative, as it will provide our businesses with greater flexibility in accessing other outside lists, as well as provide our advertising group with additional leverage in securing ad sales contracts,” said Mary Donahoe, vice president of marketing services at National Geographic, Washington.

Meanwhile, the list industry is gaining a valuable resource. There aren’t many “big, well-known brands that haven’t been available before, so the fact that National Geographic is at least taking a step into the list rental world – and a big step – [offers the marketplace] a very large untapped universe,” said Fran Green, executive vice president of ALC, adding that the Society’s files have “been built with the kind of care and standard and attention to quality that the Society operates under. Period.”

The files will contain transactional marketing data, according to Green, who said that the “initial launch of these files will be in their sort of pure state, but down the road – within probably the first six months – we’re going to be launching some really exciting hybrid products that combine some of the transactional data across different files, new universes, new aggregations of affinities, doing some enhancements so that we’ve really got some interesting new lists products to bring out besides the stand-alone files.”

For example, brokers will be able to select a file of people who purchased travel-related books and videos and travel-related items from its catalog on one master file, rather than having to place three separate orders for each. “We’re really going to be looking for that cross-source affinity to be able to pull out large universes of individuals with a demonstrated interest [in a given area],” Green said.

Even though this is the first time the select files will be offered for rental, the Society has exchanged lists in the past, according to Green, so the company’s privacy statement – which states that the company will not sell, exchange or release personal information to third parties without consent – will not change.

ALC intends to manage National Geographic’s e-mail list “down the line,” said Green, but will focus on the mail lists for the immediate future.

National Geographic will use Applied Information Group, Kenilworth, NJ, as its service bureau, which will offer fast turnaround of lists, flexibility in format and output, and delivery options, as well as online counts and online order status. “It’s going to be state of the art from a back-end service standpoint,” Green said.

ALC’s Suzanne O’Rourke will serve as National Geographic’s account manager.

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