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The Truth About Data Card Quality

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Last week, NextMark released its first data card quality report for the 2012 calendar year. This report continues to spark intense debate on the subject of data card quality, so let’s talk about it. Your comments would be much appreciated as we plan to refine the program for digital media publishers and planners.

Here’s how it all began…

When NextMark first launched its self-service data card publishing wizard at the turn of the new millennium, the new interface was met with mixed emotions. Some media managers and list owners were excited to finally have control over their promotional content, but others were not looking forward to the extra work. This created some gaps in regards to the attention that data cards received, subsequently creating issues for researchers who rely on data cards for purchase decisions and campaign planning.

To further encourage media managers to update their data cards and improve their content for researchers and campaign managers, NextMark introduced a new service on October 15, 2000 to integrate data cards on managers’ web sites. This created an even greater sense of ownership and brand awareness, but it was still not enough to address the issues of missing contact information, out-of-date counts, and other deficiencies.

On May 13, 2003, NextMark introduced its first data card quality report by electronically analyzing over 30,000 data cards (currently over 70,000). For each data card, a proprietary algorithm rates the quality of 13 key attributes. The primary objective of this initiative was to make sure that data cards were complete and accurate, and there was a little improvement.

On February 21, 2008, the data card quality report went public with a ranking of the top 50 managers. This resulted in a vanity check for companies that did not make the list, so a refined version was released on June 23, 2008 to categorize the top managers by number of data cards in their respective portfolios.

As word got out, some good things started to happen. Data card publishers began to pay close attention to the scores and the rankings, and many began to institute best practices for timely updates and list content management. Scores have been improving ever since, but something else also started to happen.

Data card quality rankings became a promotional opportunity for media managers and the scores were often taken out of context. The scoring algorithm, intended to measure completeness and update recency, grew in perception as a holistic measure for media management firms. Although unintended, this created some confusion.

To keep it simple, here’s the 3 point truth about data card quality.

Point 1:  data card quality is independent of list quality.

Point 2:  data card quality measures completeness and update recency.

Point 3:  data card quality does not measure content quality or accuracy.

You should not judge a media manager on data card quality alone, and there are more important factors to consider. For example, take a look at the following catalog list rate card and you will notice that it has a high ‘popularity index‘ in addition to a quality presentation of the media (postal list in this case) it represents. The counts are current through the end of the most recent month, the monthly and quarterly hotlines are provided, and the average age and income is provided for the audience. It is important to also be aware of the fact that some media managers may confirm an update without actually changing the counts. We are on to them and will flagging that accordingly to make sure our research users are aware of the difference.

Top List Managers Revealed for First Quarter 2009

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Don't think for a minute that neglecting a data card doesn't have a cost. While it is easy to get distracted by the demands on our time, keeping these documents current is essential to the direct marketing process and quality data cards improve the odds of getting list orders. Here's what one expert list broker commented on the subject:

"Our content strategy team has a good handle on the lists that work best for our clients, but we still need to know that the counts, pricing, and other information are up-to-date before making a formal recommendation," said Lisa Donnelly, Senior Director at Merkle, Inc. "Quality data cards give us the confidence we need to stand behind all of our recommendations."

NextMark publishes a quarterly report titled "Top List Managers by Data Card Quality" to encourage the users of our free data card publishing tool to post quality information and keep it current. This report presents the top list managers (up to 50) per category; a minimum of 50 mailing list titles per company is required to be ranked. The categories are based on the number of managed titles per company as indicated below:Top50-data-card-provider

Category I = 500+ Titles (21 companies)

Category II = 250 – 499 Titles (37 companies)

Category III = 100 – 249 Titles (61 companies)

Category IV = 50 – 99 Titles (73 companies)

For a complete report of the top list managers, including risers and fallers, visit our web site:  http://www.nextmark.com/mmse/top50-list-managers-dccqr.html

 

Would You Serve A T-Bone On A Trash Can Lid?

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

Of course not (maybe to a junk yard dog), but I'm not sure everyone thinks this way when it comes to data cards. The t-bone steak represents the winning combination of a world-class list manager and a quality mailing list with an exceptional test-to-continuation ratio. The trash can lid represents a neglected data card for that sameTbonesteak_3 mailing list. Take a step back and embrace this analogy from the perspective of a list broker or mailer. You select your favorite list research tool from the browser– we'll use the Mailing Lists Search Tool for this example, since that is a free tool in the public domain. Here's what happens:

You find a brand name mailing list of active subscribers that matches your customer profile. This mailing list is marketed by a credible list management firm with superior industry knowledge, a proven track record for customer service, and a diverse portfolio of top notch response list titles. Futhermore, the mailing list you selected is known for its success in delivering above average response rates with consistently high payup rates. Now you are ready to add this list title your client's new test recommendation, but you notice that the data card has not been reviewed in over a year. Needless to say, you're likely to question the validity of the information. You may wonder if the mailing list is still available for rental, or you may find out that the owner of the data card is no longer the list manager because they lost the business to a competitor and never deactivated their version of the data card. That's obviously not something the former list manager would want to promote in the public domain, but it happens every day!

What's the take-away in all of this? It's simple. Keep your data cards up-to-date with quality information on all of the list research channels, especially in the public domain where your content is most visible. You are able to publish and maintain your data cards online for free using MarketMax SE, and those cards will be updated instantly on all of the list research portals powered by NextMark in the public domain.

At the same time, your data cards will be updated for all of NextMark's list research and list brokerage system users, representing 185 companies who acquire mailing lists for new customer acquisition.

Finally, if you'd like NextMark can integrate your web site so you only need to update your data cards in one place — NextMark will take care of the rest. Is there any better way for you to gain control over the process? It's time to serve those data cards 'well-done' and get noticed for your efforts.