Subscriber list management today faces continuing pressure, not only from online aggregators but also from increasingly sophisticated analytics technology that helps make online customer data-gathering ever more precise and rich.
As a result, publishers can no longer simply rent names. Many are augmenting their response lists with sophisticated segmentation, services and analytics of their own.
“Our list business, like everyone else's, is slower but isn't dead,” said Nick Cavnar, VP-circulation and database development at Hanley Wood, whose brands target the construction industry. Cavnar stressed the value inherent in magazine response lists.
“Yes, with Web analytics you can target activity on the Internet, but frequently that doesn't give you personal data,” he said. “The advantage of targeted lists is they contain the people you want to target.” To enhance this value, however, Cavnar augments his lists with data sources on the Web.
Hanley Wood uses Statlistics as its list management company. “Regardless of who you use, the list owner must be more closely involved these days,” Cavnar said.
Statlistics President-CEO John Papalia said he helps by using any other source of data available.
“On occasion, we'll use the aggregators to append subscriber list data to build new segments,” Papalia said. (Aggregators are those companies that accumulate list names and information through various methods, including so-called Web-scrubbing and crowd sourcing, as well as telemarketing.)
“We're also trying to create opportunities in the lead-generation area, analyzing RSS feeds,” Papalia said.
Another media company mining Internet-based information to augment its subscriber lists is UBM Canon. Len Roberto, director-audience strategy, said his company is also using Web analytics to add depth to its subscriber lists.
“Yes, we have a robust database that contains all the data points on a record; but we're going further, into a realm where we're capturing behavioral data from the Internet,” Roberto said. “We're now figuring out how to go out and present this to our customers.”
Roberto said list customers of UBM Canon, which has brands in the medical design, pharmaceuticals and packaging arenas, quite often are satisfied with the standard ingredients available in the company's subscriber lists. For more sophisticated customers, the company tracks e-newsletter open and click rates, and even which e-newsletter stories are opened, and by whom, to provide richer prospect data.
In addition, UBM Canon is making forays into lead-nurturing services for its customers, something that is still on the drawing board, Roberto said, but indicative of the kinds of additional services needed to be competitive.
Media companies are working closely with customers to improve their campaigns—not only to help ensure their success but also to minimize failures associated with the lists themselves.
“Sometimes our customers' landing pages are very poor,” Roberto said. “We'll point this out to them, and also work to make the message, subject line and time of day better.”
All of this effort may have something to do with new-found stability of business magazine list prices. Last month, list management company Worldata released its “Spring 2011 List Price Index,” which revealed that controlled-circulation list prices averaged $141 per thousand names in the first quarter of the year, versus $140 for the year-earlier period. Paid-circulation magazine list prices also were virtually unchanged, at $134 per thousand names for the first three months of this year, compared with $135 last year.
“Aggregated databases are relatively new in the list rental arena,” said Ray Tesi, senior VP at Worldata, of the impact of alternate sources of prospect data. “As these files begin to mature and improve in terms of quality and collection methods, the value will likely reflect that in a more stabilized cost-per-thousand.”
Publisher efforts are going far beyond exploring alternate data sources for appending purposes. For example, in addition to using appended information from Dun & Bradstreet, Advanstar Communications is adding a number of marketing services to the mix, such as helping list end-users perfect their landing pages, calls to action and specific offers at no extra cost.
Advanstar leverages its relationship with its list management company, Infogroup Edith Roman, for data hygiene, appends and deliverability scores. In addition, the company has just signed an agreement with TaleFoundry, a company that specializes in content marketing and lead nurturing.
By providing additional content on its site for downloading, including white papers, archived webinars and e-newsletters, for example, behavioral data can be captured, segmented by interest and qualification level, and presented to advertisers, said Drew DeSarle, VP-market development sales at Advanstar.
“List rental is a great business, but it's only great if the client gets a good return on investment and acquires new customers,” DeSarle said. “If they succeed, we succeed. That's what keeps them coming back.”
Added service also is the name of the game for Hanley Wood. Cavnar said he's seeing a demand for more precise segmentations of his lists, assignments which are time-consuming but essential to remaining competitive.
“These lists contain much fewer names and typically are far more detailed than normal,” Cavnar said. “But I'm finding that's where our growth is happening—not in huge numbers, but in little pieces for narrowly focused, specific programs.”