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.