MESSAGEMEDIA VISION EXTENDS BEYOND E-MAIL SYNCHRONIZING OF DATABASES SEEN AS METHOD TO UNDERSTAND CONSUMER BETTER

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Messagemedia is already a force in permission-based e-mail marketing, but CEO Larry Jones has bigger ambitions.

The Boulder, Colo.-based company aims to lead the way in synchronizing marketing through e-mail, the Web and offline media, Mr. Jones said.

MessageMedia currently handles in-bound and out-bound e-mail campaigns, all based on database technology. Applications include customer service as well as sales. It's not spam, the cyber-version of junk mail-98% of the e-mail MessageMedia sends goes to current customers of its clients.

2 ACQUISITIONS IN JUNE

In June, MessageMedia announced two acquisitions to fill out its offerings. By buying Revnet Systems, Huntsville, Ala., it's adding packaged software and services for marketers. The acquisition of Decisive Technology, Mountain View, Calif., brings e-mail survey capabilities.

Revnet's clients include EDS, Universal Studios and The Wall Street Journal. Decisive Technology's roster includes America Online, Apple Computer and Microsoft Corp.

MessageMedia's competitors in e-mail campaign outsourcing include Critical Path, San Francisco; Digital Impact, San Mateo, Calif.; and Exactis.Com, Denver, said Mike Bernstein, senior research analyst with the Gartner Group, Stamford, Conn.

It's a fast-growing market. By sending the right offer to the right person at the right time, based on a customer database, e-mail can draw a 10% response rate, while clickthroughs on Web ad banners are below 1% and falling, Mr. Bernstein said.

"There's definitely a lot of interest in e-mail marketing," Mr. Bernstein said, but he questioned how long response rates will stay high as the practice becomes more common.

Mr. Bernstein said MessageMedia has several competitive advantages.

First, it has enormous financial strength. Japan-based Softbank Corp. and its affiliates own 49% of the publicly traded company.

Just as important, Mr. Bernstein said, is Mr. Jones' vision of where the field is going.

"MessageMedia understands it's not about sending e-mails," Mr. Bernstein said, "but understanding the recipients."

Over the next 18 months, Mr. Jones said, that strategy will put MessageMedia in direct competition with such database marketers as DoubleClick Network, the leading Web ad network, and Acxiom Corp., a leading provider of databases used by direct mail companies.

GETTING THERE FIRST

Synchronizing e-mail, Web and offline databases is the goal of all these companies, and Mr. Jones plans to get there first.

MessageMedia announced in late June it would manage permission-based direct marketing for Web portal Yahoo!. It will deliver personalized e-mail messages to users of Yahoo! Mail and other e-mail programs. Yahoo!'s direct marketing efforts include special offers related to personal finance, entertainment, sports, health and travel. The offers are targeted to match users' interests.

Other MessageMedia clients include Bertelsmann, Barclays Bank, CMP*Media,

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