In the first of a new series on integrated techniques, Robert Dwek looks
at the expansion of list broking
The UK’s largest list-broking company, Dudley Jenkins, is now in its
silver jubilee year. When it began, list broking worked, roughly, as
follows: a company wanting to direct mail people who matched certain
criteria asked the broker to find them. The broker compiled a list from
a variety of sources.
Today, this ad hoc approach has gone. The number of lists of consumer
names and addresses has ballooned and the broker’s time is taken up
simply trying to keep track of them all.
Industry estimates suggest there are at any one time about 3,000-4,000
lists on the market. The exact number is hard to pin down because many
are being taken off the market and many others added.
Some of the big list owners include NDL, CMT and Consumer Surveys on the
consumer side, and Emap, VNU, Reed Elsevier, Yellow Pages, ICD, Dun and
Bradstreet and Market Locations on the business-to-business side.
Another big consumer list, based on the Electoral Register, is handled
by a number of companies.
Of course, you don’t have to use a list broker to get hold of a list.
There are reference books stuffed full of information on which lists do
what. But as a list user - the person renting the list - it makes
financial sense to use a broker because their services are free. Their
remuneration comes entirely from the list owner.
Lists are mostly charged at a rate of per thousand records. At one time,
list owners insisted on being paid on the total list. Now there is a
wide, if reluctant, acceptance that where two or more have been merged
or purged and duplications removed, the user does not pay for the
deleted names. Renting a list costs between pounds 70-pounds 110 per
thousand names for a consumer list and pounds 85-pounds 200 per thousand
names for a business list.
Traditionally, financial services companies have been big users of lists
but nowadays all manner of companies are looking to lists to supplement
their burgeoning customer databases. Charities began using lists in the
late 80s, while the 90s has seen a surge of interest from grocery
manufacturers keen to circumvent the supermarkets.
Profiling is the latest Big Thing to hit list broking: companies are
giving their own customer databases to the brokers in order to profile
them against a bigger list. This may help them find other criteria by
which they can target their customers. In this age of lifestyle
databases, age and sex is increasingly considered inadequate.
As mentioned, Dudley Jenkins is the biggest list broker, renting out up
to 100 million names a year. Other players include HLB, Mardev and
Direct Media. Unimarketing, less than a year old but with a client list
including the Economist, American Express and Marks and Spencer
Financial Services, is considered up and coming by industry observers.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Trade association. List brokers used to be represented by the BLBA, now
the DMA (Direct Marketing Association) guards their interests
Number of list brokers. About 20 full-time, many more offering list-
broking as part of other services. Often list owners and brokers share
the same ownership
Major industry deals. As of 1994, list owners NDL and CMT are both owned
by the Dutch publishing giant VNU
Advice on best practice. One of the most important considerations in
list selection is the list’s provenance. Always check how the list is
improved and kept up to date. And carry out a trial mailing to test the
effectiveness of the list