Crain to consolidate and optimize brand databases

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Crain Communications Inc. has contracted with database management company Omeda to consolidate its multiple customer databases into a corporatewide business-intelligence data set. The goal: to provide a unified view of Crain Communications' customers, their purchase histories and their website behaviors for better customer intelligence and enhanced up- and cross-selling opportunities. “We expect the impact to be significant,” said Chris Crain, Crain Communications VP-group publisher. “The idea is to have a single record of all our customers and all their information, including both demographic and purchasing history.” The first phase of the initiative will be to consolidate and optimize the various databases within each of Crain Communications' 30 brands, which include Advertising Age, Automotive News, BtoB, Crain's city business publications and Media Business. A later phase will consolidate customer touch points across all the company's brands and brand products. The initiative will also incorporate Crain Communications' subscription fulfillment operations and email marketing efforts. Crain said the implementation of the Omeda solution would meld information about customer interest in print publications, newsletters, events, gated websites, lead generation and numerous digital, research and data products. “We'll ultimately move into the higher end of using this system, which is to append data to customer records based on how they're consuming content—the stories they're interested in—to improve our internal sales efforts and audience development revenue,” Crain said. He added: “Our audience has never been larger than it is today. We have more people in our databases than we've ever had, but it's a question of figuring out what they will pay for and moving them up the ladder.” The new system will be integrated with Omeda's Omail email marketing platform. Among Omeda's other publishing clients are: Cygnus Business Media, Elsevier, Hanley Wood, the business media division of Hearst Corp., International Data Group and PennWell Corp. “The main thing right off the bat will be to create one database for each Crain brand, regardless of product sold,” said Aaron Oberman, president of Omeda, which is based in Northbrook, Ill. “That should take about a year. Once the individual brands are built out, building the larger, corporate database won't be as difficult.” Oberman said the Omeda system will be able to link customers with products purchased and downloaded, as well as articles read online, through an integration with Crain Communications' Saxotech content management system. “The biggest growth for us is the behavioral data,” Oberman said. “Once you have that, you can do scoring and predictive modeling.” Database enhancement has become central to publishers' revenue-generation efforts, according to Ken Doctor, media analyst at publishing information company Outsell Inc. “For ad agencies and big companies that buy direct, media companies have to be able to serve them this information to improve their targeting and effectiveness,” he said.
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