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Data e.Quality:
Enlighten Your Users with Syndicated Data, Part 2

    Column published in DMReview.com
November 19, 2001
 
  By Ronald Forino

Editor's Note: The final segment of this two-part series addresses the different types of syndicated data and gives a quantitative list of third-party data providers.

Chances are your sales and marketing departments are well aware of at least some of the syndicated data that is available within your industry. Some providers are large and well-known by most consumers and businesses. For example, most of us have heard of the Nielson ratings of television programs. Your favorite television program is competing for the share of viewers available for its prime-time day and time slot. The ratings data is compiled each week by ACNielson and provided to the television networks and, more importantly, the program's sponsors. Sponsors can then determine if as many viewers as they would like are viewing their commercials. Other data providers are relatively small and focused within a single industry.

For example, Adams Business Media provides data only for the alcohol beverage industry.

Types of Syndicated Data

Of primary interest when evaluating syndicated data is where the data originated and for what subject area the data was gathered. Syndicated data is gathered from a variety of different information-gathering mechanisms. These include surveys, questionnaires, polls, forums, applications or information gathered electronically from a device that captures a B2C or B2B transaction. Syndicated data can be classified by the primary subject area being captured. In most cases, that means either product data or customer data.

Product data. If you are seeking to analyze product sales and performance, you will want data collected at the point of sale (or more recently, your Web site) where the transaction originated. In the traditional brick-and-mortar environment, electronic cash registers collect information about the sale of your product including when and where the product was sold, how many were sold, how much it cost, what day and time the transaction took place, how the item was paid for, which cash register took the sale, who the cashier was and what other products were purchased with your product.

Customer data (and business data). If you are seeking to know more about a potential or actual customer, then the data must come from a poll, a questionnaire or a survey. For example, when you signed up for your free subscription of DM Review magazine you were required to answer a series of questions about who you were, your company, the areas where you influence buying and how many dollars you influence each year. Congratulations, you have now made it to a list of potential customers that is highly valued by IT vendors. (There's no such thing as a "free lunch.") Any time you fill out a magazine subscription, a warranty card, register with a political party, make a large purchase, respond to the U.S. census or browse the Web, your buying preferences are being monitored.

Another type of customer information that is tracked is credit information. There are several companies around that keep information about your credit worthiness. Most companies would only be too happy to report a problem if you fail to pay your bill. Likewise, businesses are also carefully tracked so that potential suppliers or customers can determine their viability and credit worthiness.

Interestingly enough, the U.S. Postal Service maintains an address list for every known mail recipient in the U.S. That list is frequently updated from the forwarding address forms people return to them when they move to a new address. However, I learned from a data provider that if you want an even more accurate and current list, you should update the addresses from the data provider's syndicated list. It seems that people are quicker to update their magazine subscriptions and install cable TV than they are to return the forward address form to the post office.

The following is a list of 22 syndicated data providers.1 This information is intended to provide the names of some of the primary providers of syndicated data as well as a brief description of the industries they serve, some of the primary subject areas that they cover and the source of their data. Most also provide other complementary products such as data integration software and analytical reporting.

Abacus

Abacus, a division of DoubleClick Inc., claims that their Abacus Alliance database of buyer behavior is the largest in the United States. Alliance contains more than 3.5 billion point-of-sale transactions from more than 90 million U.S. households. It includes geographic, demographic, lifestyle, and behavioral data. Abacus Alliance provides data for the following markets:

  • Catalog
  • Retail
  • B2B
  • International
  • Publishing

In addition to direct mail lists, ABACUS provides data about e-mail buyers, professing that their addressees are 100 percent open to receive third-party e-mail offers. Internet prospect data is also available.

ACNielsen

ACNielsen, which was acquired by VNU N.V. in February 2001, first introduced food and drug indices to measure product performance and sales dynamics in 1933. They currently collect point-of-sale and survey information about market dynamics across the following markets:

  • Supermarkets
  • Hypermarkets
  • Gas/petrol stations
  • Convenience stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Supercenters
  • Independent food stores
  • Mass merchandisers
  • Warehouse clubs

Acxiom

Acxiom's InfoBase product provides comprehensive consumer, business and contact data designed to support CRM. Acxiom currently offers data and products for customers in the following industries:

  • Automotive
  • Financial services
  • Healthcare
  • Insurance
  • Media
  • Retail
  • Technology
  • Telecommunications

Adams Business Media

Adams Business Media, through an alliance with ACNielsen, claims to be the only company that focuses exclusively on data from the alcohol beverage industry.

ArcLight

In July 2001, ten leading pharmacy companies formed ArcLight Systems, a retail service consortium based in Ohio and Nevada. ArcLight collects up-to-the-minute information on pharmaceutical prescription data in the U.S. ArcLight's main information product, RxealTime, will deliver a timely stream of pharmaceutical marketing and sales information produced from aggregating nonpatient identifiable data from nearly one billion prescriptions annually.

ArcLight has an impressive list of managing companies and founders including Wal-Mart, Kmart, CVS, Cardinal Health, Inc., and Albertsons, Inc. All partners bring a long-term commitment to ArcLight as data contributors.

Claritas

Claritas is a comprehensive source of updated marketing information about American consumers and businesses. Claritas provides local-area demographic data and offers two segmentation systems: PRIZM and Spectra (their sister company). Spectra utilizes PRIZM clusters to create a proprietary Spectra Lifestyle/Lifestage Grid segmentation system. Claritas claims to be the leader in investing for data research and development.

Claritas consumer data is consistent along various levels of granularity from an individual household to a national perspective as well as all geographic level in between. Claritas claims that their data truly reflects the impact of both national trends and local events (major disasters, seasonal population shifts, key demographic changes) within each U.S. market. They offer data in the following areas:

  • Business
  • Consumer
  • Demographic
  • Geographic
  • EEO and labor
  • Internet

Claritas business data includes:

  • Automotive data
  • Business establishments
  • County business patterns
  • Crime risk assessment
  • Grocery stores
  • Restaurants
  • Schools
  • Shopping centers

Compusearch

Compusearch, a division of Equifax, has 25 years of experience in the geo-demographic business. Compusearch has been Canada's premier provider of geo-referenced demographic, consumer and business information.

Donnelley (Subsidiary of InfoUSA)

Donnelley, founded in 1917, became a wholly owned subsidiary of InfoUSA in 1999. Donnelley claims that its business and consumer data enhancement services provide the largest and most comprehensive multisource consumer enhancement file available.

InfoUSA uses more than 5,200 yellow- and white-page phone directories as well as other public documents to create its listings. More than 20 million phone calls are subsequently places annually to verify and validate the information that is collected.

Donnelley, in turn, uses this information to create its business and consumer product offerings. Donnelley's business database, called BusinessContent, consists of 12 million businesses. Information such as current phone and fax numbers, credit ratings, key decision- makers and even sales volume is available for practically every business in the U.S.

Their consumer database, ConsumerContent, is compiled from InfoUSA's consumer database and includes data from private, public and self- reported sources. It includes more than 250 million individuals and 120 million unique households segmented by demographic and lifestyle information.

Traditional batch methods as well as all of the popular Internet delivery mechanisms are supported.

D&B; (Dun & Bradstreet)

D&B; (Dun & Bradstreet) is the world's leading provider of business information. While D&B; is probable best known for the business credit reports they have provided over the years, they also provide other valuable business information and lists.

For example, D&B; is unique in their production of their DUNS Number. The DUNS Number is a unique nine-digit identification sequence, which provides unique identifiers of single business entities while linking corporate family structures together. D&B; links the DUNS Numbers of parents, subsidiaries, headquarters and branches on more than 64 million corporate family members around the world. The DUNS Number has come to be recognized by businesses, industry and trade associations, and governments as a standard way of identifying business hierarchies.

D&B; also provides a wealth of information about the financial strength of both U.S. and non-U.S. business. D&B; provides information on businesses in more than 130 countries.

Engage Technologies

Engage Technologies' products enable marketers, Web sites and e-commerce merchants to use the Internet to find and retain customers. Their core offering, Engage Knowledge, is a database that contains more than 84 million user profiles collected from participating Web sites across the Internet.

Engage provides multichannel marketing solutions for marketers, publishers and agencies, enabling them to develop sales programs across traditional, online and emerging marketing channels. They provide specific solutions for the following sectors:

  • Agency
  • Newspaper
  • Retail
  • Content management
  • Online promotions
  • Ad management

Equifax

Equifax is a leading provider of value-added information. Through their "Survey of America" service, Equifax is able to track buying patterns and preferences for several different markets. Equifax provides services in the following industries:

  • Mortgage
  • Retail
  • Telco and utilities
  • Automotive
  • Healthcare
  • Brokerage
  • Insurance
  • Government
  • Collections
  • Direct marketing

Their "Survey of America" is sent to approximately 18 million households each year and provides an array of self-reported demographic information. Similar surveys provide other types of pointed information such as how consumers live, what they spend their money on and what interests they possess. Some databases are created from responses to questionnaires mailed to more than 24 million households each year or product registration cards filled out voluntarily by consumers after they've completed a product purchase.

Experian

Experian maintains a comprehensive set of databases providing information on consumers, businesses, motor vehicles and property. Experian's North American databases contain more than 65 terabytes of business and consumers data. Experian maintains credit information on approximately 215 million U.S. consumers in 110 million households across the United States.

Data is also maintained for more than 14 million U.S. businesses, including lucrative home-based businesses. This data includes credit information about each company's actual payment performance, trends and financial health.

FedStats

FedStats provides a full range of official statistical information available to the public from the Federal Government. Users can utilize Web browser linking and searching capabilities to track: Economic and population trends

  • Health care costs
  • Aviation safety
  • Foreign trade
  • Energy use
  • Farm production
  • FedStats source data is collected from more than 70 federal agencies. This data provides information on expenditures reported for at least $500,000 per year in one or more statistical activities. They also provide MapStats, a facility that provides profile data by state, county, federal judicial district or congressional district.

    Harte- Hanks

    Harte-Hanks provides U.S. and international marketing data for several industries competing in CRM arena including:

    • Retail
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Financial services
    • High tech
    • Healthcare insurance

    One of their rather unique products is their "CI Technology" database. This data provides companies selling into the technology space insight into their prospect's technology buying cycle. The source of their data comes from more than 250 researchers who conduct more than 60,000 interviews each month with technology companies from 25 countries in North America, Latin America and Europe. This process allows them to track computer and telecommunications technology for more than 400,000 business. Technology areas that are tracked include communications equipment, e-business, LAN, networking, outsourcing, peripherals, PCs, software, storage, systems and servers.

    Harte-Hanks also offers the following marketing databases: Enterprise database

    • ISP database
    • E-business database
    • ASP database
    • Channel database
    • CRM database

    Their Enterprise database, for example, includes business and technology profiles of the largest enterprises in the world including the Fortune 1000, The Forbes 500, 65 federal government agencies, all state governments and 150 U.S. universities.

    IMS Health

    IMS Health, Inc. is a leading provider of data to the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries. IMS Health operates in approximately 100 countries. Their data centers process 165 billion records monthly, covering nearly 100 percent of all prescriptions written in the U.S. and 70 percent of all prescriptions worldwide. Their source data is gathered from thousands of prescription distribution sources around the world, including manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, clinics, managed care organizations, hospitals, mail order firms, long-term care and home healthcare facilities. This data allows their users to:

    • Develop and launch new medicines
    • Assess market conditions and monitor competitive activities
    • Price and promote pharmaceutical products
    • Evaluate and compensate pharmaceutical sales resources
    • Interpret and analyze sales results

    Information Resources, Inc (IRI)

    IRI supplies consumer packaged goods (CPG) professionals with information and analysis critical to their sales, marketing and supply chain initiatives. IRI provides industry-standard, scanner-based marketing and sales information, giving clients access to detailed information on sales, share, distribution, pricing and promotion for hundreds of product categories.

    IRI also provides consumer behavior-tracking data by monitoring a proprietary 55,000 household consumer panel and by providing in-store observation statistics. IRI's observational audit services include field data collection, auditing, merchandising and mystery shopping services.

    Mediamark Research Inc. (MRI)

    As a leading supplier of U.S. multimedia audience research, MRI provides information to magazines, television, radio, Internet and leading national advertising agencies. Their data includes intelligence about comprehensive demographic, lifestyle and product usage.

    Mediamark conducts more than 26,000 personal interviews with consumers annually throughout the continental United States to produce syndicated reports and data for electronic access.

    NPD Group

    The NPD Group is a leading provider of comprehensive marketing intelligence for a wide range of vertical markets including: Personal care products (such as curling irons/brushes, electric massagers, electric razors, hair dryers, oral care, showerheads, water filtration.)

  • Small kitchen electronics (such as bread makers, can openers, juicers, coffee grinders, deep fryers, drip coffee makers/espresso, food processors, humidifiers and air purifiers, irons, mixers, toasters.)
  • Floor care (such as vacuums, sweepers)
  • Bakeware
  • Stovetop cookware
  • Other markets include apparel, automotive products, consumer electronics, cosmetics and fragrances, food, food service, footwear, information technology, interactive entertainment, toys and music.

    Leading retailers across the U.S. supply retail sales data to NPD where experts then code and record data by product category, brand/manufacturer and item level by distribution channel. Participating channels include department stores (e.g., Target, Saks Inc., Dillard's Inc.); mass merchants (such as Bradlees, Kmart, Ames, Shopko); national chains (J.C. Penney, Sears, Montgomery Ward, Kids 'R Us); specialty stores (e.g., Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, PC Richards, Linens N' Things, Office Max.

    Scarborough

    Scarborough is a leading provider of consumer information. More than 1,800 clients make up the Scarborough client base including newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable systems, online services, agencies, advertisers and yellow pages. A total of 64 local markets are measured. Categories surveyed include:

    • Consumer retail shopping behavior
    • Product consumption
    • Media usage
    • Lifestyle behavior and all demographics

    Spectra

    Spectra provides manufacturers and retailers of consumer goods industries with proprietary retail data allowing consumer segmentation, data integration and retail intelligence.

    Unique to Spectra is their "Lifestyle/Lifestage Grid" which provides a standard for describing key consumer segments. This universal classification system segments any consumer, store or geographically based data. Spectra claims to classify households into 54 types, based on their neighborhood type (identifying 9 separate lifestyles - e.g., upscale suburb) and demographics (identifying 6 different lifestages according to the age of the female head of household and the presence of children).

    U. S. Bureau of the Census

    The mission of the U. S. Bureau of the Census is to be the preeminent collector and provider of timely, relevant, and quality data about the people and economy of the United States. The Census Bureau conducts both demographic and economic surveys including the following:

    Demographic Surveys

    • The American community
    • American housing
    • Current population
    • Current population survey supplements
    • Housing vacancy
    • National level survey data
    • National survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife associated recreation
    • New York City housing and vacancy
    • Property owners and managers
    • Residential finance
    • Survey of income and program participation
    • Survey of program dynamics
    • Women- and minority- owned business
    • Survey of market absorption

    Economic Surveys

    • Advance monthly retail sales
    • Annual capital expenditures
    • Annual retail trade
    • Annual survey of communication services
    • Annual survey of manufacturers
    • Annual trade
    • Assets and expenditures
    • Business expenditures
    • Business and professional classification
    • Characteristics of business owners
    • Commodity flow
    • Education finance
    • Farm and ranch irrigation
    • Investment plans
    • Manufacturers' shipments, inventories and orders (M3)
    • Monthly wholesale and retail trade
    • Motor freight transportation and warehousing
    • Plant and equipment
    • Quarterly financial report
    • Service annual
    • Survey of plant capacity utilization
    • Survey of program dynamics
    • Transportation annual
    • Truck inventory and use
    • Women- and minority-owned business

    U.S. Postal System

    The U.S. Postal System provides a number of products as part of their Address Information System (AIS) product line. Perhaps their most noteworthy product is the City-State-Zip list. This is a comprehensive list of ZIP codes and the city, county and post office names associated with those ZIP codes. It can be used to validate the city name and ZIP code that is part of a mailing address.

    1 This list of providers is by no means exhaustive, but includes a good sampling of the more well-known vendors representing most industries.
    ...............................................................................

    For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
    Data Quality, Data Analysis and Data Integration.

    Ron Forino is a senior management consultant for Delta Corporate Services. Forino has spent the last few years providing strategic planning for executive management, primarily in the areas of information management. Formerly a director of Data Warehousing and Information Management, he has developed methodologies supporting information management services in data warehousing, data integration, data quality and knowledge management. He has been in the industry for more than 20 years as a programmer, analyst, architect and project manager. Forino has an MBA and is certified by the Project Management Institute. His recent work includes running an ERP data migration program, implementing data warehousing solutions and corporate data quality programs for financial, labor and pharmaceutical institutions in the New York/New Jersey area. Forino has been a conference speaker on the subjects of data warehousing, value-chain business intelligence and data quality and is a member of the executive board for DAMA-New Jersey. Forino can be reached at rforino@deltacorp.com.

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