Marketfish aims to put List Brokers and List Managers out of business

Xconomy Seattle today reported on Marketfish, a new startup that plans to put list brokers and list managers out of business. According to the article,

Previous companies like NextMark and min (Marketing Information Network) tried various approaches in the pre-Google days, [Marketfish CEO Dave] Scott says, but they largely failed to solve the list marketing problem. "They wanted to play nice with all the middlemen. We’re going to cut them out," he says. "It’s a bold strategy."

Interestingly, Marketfish hopes to sell its services to advertising agencies… aren't agencies middlemen, too? Won't the agencies will be wise enough to predict the future of this relationship?

Marketfish reports to have recently closed a seed round with Alliance of Angels. I have to wonder if Marketfish disclosed two other companies with the same disintermediation strategy, Adventa and Alistia, who burned through tens of millions of investor dollars before going bankrupt without any success. Or the fact that using a list broker is by choice?


For the record, NextMark has done quite well with a "play nice" strategy and has amassed the most comprehensive and up-to-date index of mailing lists available today with more than 100,000 data cards sourced in cooperation with 1,400 mailing list suppliers. We recognize our position as a marketplace technology provider and respect the roles that list brokers, list managers, agencies, service bureaus, and other suppliers play in the ecosystem. These relationships are one of NextMark's biggest assets. Our suite of products and services enable suppliers to work together more cohesively to achieve the mutual goal of helping marketers to reach their market.

As Marketfish observes, there are certainly huge inefficiencies in the marketplace. But it's important to recognize the experience and expertise that would be lost by "cutting out the middlemen." NextMark is streamlining the marketplace while preserving – and enhancing - the value of these critical roles.

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5 Responses to “Marketfish aims to put List Brokers and List Managers out of business”

  1. Sue Barnes says:

    One of the key values of the “middlemen” in the list business is the knowledge of which lists are good quality, frequently updated, work for which types of offers, understanding the selections that are available and can make good value recommendations that fit the required target. This knowledge is acquired over a number of years. Marketing people may find themselves making costly mistakes without this valuable input to their campaigns.

    • George Lomotz says:

      There will not always be a middleman. This is not some palm reading trick, this is history speaking. If we have learned anything from the past 10 years of technology – people are expendable when it comes to sourcing data. If you are a broker and want to secure a place in the new world of list marketing – embrace new technologies and become a power user.

  2. I agree Sue. The value is there. Qualified list brokers know what works and what doesn’t from years of experience. Their empirical knowledge goes far beyond response rates, but at the very least those response metrics ‘in the broker’s head’ can save a campaign. It is very important to get good references who can site positive experiences and quantifiable results to help separate the wheat from the chaff.

  3. I also agree with Sue, there will always be middlemen and the good ones do bring value to the table.