UnlistMe.com Joins Infomediary Movement

The infomediary movement gained a new player last week when start-up Populardemand launched a Web site (www.unlistme.com) that will assist consumers in choosing which marketing lists they are on and what type of offers they will receive.

Infomediaries help consumers control their personal information and the marketing process by supervising contact with direct marketers.

UnlistMe.com envisions itself as a conduit that will pass names of consumers who wish to be taken off mailing and telemarketing lists directly to the Direct Marketing Association's mail and telephone preference services. The DMA, however, has a long standing policy of not accepting third-party submissions to its services, and a spokesman said it would not take the UnlistMe names.

“We want to be able to do this with the mouthpiece of the industry,” said Shyamala Reddy, Populardemand vice president of product development. “If we present them with 50,000 names, that will be hard to refuse.”

Reddy said removal from selected lists is something consumers want and if it can not be done through the DMA, the firm will go directly to list owners or find other ways to unlist them.

Populardemand, San Francisco, is touting itself as a concierge for the Internet consumer. While Internet firm Lumeria will pay consumers for use of their personal information for marketing purposes, Populardemand plans to follow a cost per introduction model where merchants will be charged for introductions to prospective buyers. Pricing will not be set for about a month, but costs will vary per campaign, merchant and product category. Populardemand will not take a commission on sales transactions.

“We are shifting the balance of power from sellers to buyers,” Reddy said. “There is a need on the consumer side to control personal information a little bit better and it's something they are becoming more educated about.

“Aggregating interests and selling it to Web sites eliminates the guesswork and alleviates a lot of the consumer's anxiety about buying online.”

Removal from lists is the first step in a process that also empowers consumers to control which mailers can include their name on a mailing list.

After users choose which lists to be removed from, they provide basic demographic information — including their e-mail address — pick a password and are linked to a marketing menu. Users can select from a menu of catalogs or fill in ones not listed that they wish to receive. They then select which offers they wish to receive from computers, electronics, travel, financial, auto and home entertainment categories. Finally, they indicate how often they wish to receive the information.

Populardemand seeks to pool buyers with common interests to get the best deals from merchants. Offers will not be e-mailed to consumers until a certain interest plateau is reached, and the identity of consumers will not be shared with a merchant until a sale is consummated.

Their e-commerce model has both sales and marketing feedback features that enable a merchant to alter an offer in real time. When an e-mail offer reaches the consumer, it spawns a personalized Web page. The top of the page contains the offer, while the bottom contains five option buttons that could trigger a sale, a call from a sales person or ask why the consumer didn't buy. Merchants determine which questions are asked and gain instant access to the answers.

“If the first 100 people said [an offer] is too expensive they can either change their price or adjust their pitch to maximize value for the next 900 people,” Reddy said.

Given the level of initial interest — the site had registered more than 32,000 users in the first 36 hours — Populardemand expects to launch campaigns for merchants in less than a month.

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