List Brokerage – Putting Data About You to Work…

Not ever having worked in the marketing world, whenever I do stumble across the presumably everyday dealings of marketers of advertisers I am reminded about how incredibly naive I am about it all.

So for example, today I came across Media-Arrow, a direct marketing and list brokering company. Here’s an example of some of the lists they advertise access to:

  • Adults Only: almost 50,000 buyers over the last year of “a wide range for adult products including toys, DVD’s, videos, magazines, clothing, etc. via mail order or through the company’s shops”. So they buy the data from a particular company? And over 50,000 “Active Enquirers” (“catalogue and product information requesters, web based or coupon based requests”) over the last year, with verified names and addresses.
  • Affluent Grey Britain: over 650,000 “affluent over 55’s” and almost 50,000 age selectable e-mail addresses. The database “has been specifically built with affluence in mind and the profiles used provide clear targeting to this lucrative, wealthy and financially astute market. These consumers have high disposable income, good credit rating and live in identifiable high-valuable properties – identified by list owner’s Property Watcher data. Exclusively homeowners…” So someone’s keeping track of house prices and ownership as part of the value-add associated with this list?
  • Award Productions: over 80,000 mail order buyers, typically ex-servicemen and women medal holders and buyers of related commemorative products”. This list looks like it could be the customer list of ?
  • Big Book Default: over 700,000 contacts with dates of birth and selectable names. “This specialised credit file identifies prospects who demonstrate an active willingness to take out additional borrowing. All have made some payments to major catalogue companies, credit cards or utilities but have subsequently defaulted. … The entire list is deliberately overlaid with a home-owner tag, ensuring that secured lending can be effectively marketed.” So folk who are happy to take on debt, and then default, and may have something to secure it against? Wonga fodder?
  • Britains Movers: “homeowner movers is drawn from a high volume data pool. The file is updated weekly from Land Registry and Utility Company data”. Why do you think corporates keep lobbying for open public data?
  • Charity Superstore: “over 900,000 charity donators that have been sourced through transactional data systems which capture the details of live supporters of various charitable causes”. Because giving isn’t enough; and selling you on doesn’t really cost you anything more, does it?
  • Cotswold Collections: “a much sought after mail order catalogue”, apparently, that also sells almost 15,000 customer records on?
  • Cottage Garden: “a ‘fast-growing’ file of Mail Order Buyers of gardening & gift offers for the keen amateur gardener. … Buyers are recruited from National newspaper adverts, Offers & Inserts”. So the next time you fall for a mail-order ad via your favourite newspaper, remember that the price is so low because the product is actually you…
  • Credit Seekers: “Built specifically from mail order catalogue buyers data, this segment accurately targets lower income households experiencing some cash flow issues.” Because they don’t know any better and you can rip them off some more…
  • Director Select: “select file of Directors at home, built primarily from Companies House data, has 900,000+ named company directors at home address.” Why do you think corporates keep lobbying for open public data?
  • Educating Britain: “The file include the names of nearly 500,000 people who have bought or are buying distance learning courses in the last 12 months”. Hmm…
  • Pet ID: “the Pet-ID file includes people who have had their pets micro-chipped in case of loss or theft”. Because a dog’s not just for Christmas, it’s also for data.
  • Pet ID – Horse Owners: “one of UK’s official Horse Passport Issuers … UK legislation, now requires all horse owners to obtain ‘passport’ papers for their horses.” A handy UK gov spinoff: driving the data economy.

And here are the rest of the lists, by name…: Book Buyers, Communication Avenue, Dukeshill, Empty Nest High Fliers, Executive Suite, Family Britain, Fast & Furious, Financial Britain, Gambling Britain, Home Improvers, Industrial Claims File, Krystal Communication, Mail Order Superstore, Monied Ladies, Mont Rose of Guernsey, Older & Wiser, Over 65′s, Pashmina Bazaar, PDSA Lottery, Pet House, Pet People, Pet Solutions, Prize Magazines Responders, Prosperity File, Prudent Savers, Retail Therapy, Salesfeed, Six Channels – B2B File, SixChannels – B2B file Worldwide, SixChannels – B2C File, SixChannels – Consumer-Business Selects, TDS Insurance File, The Pottery File, The Rich List, Totally Professional, Wealthy Database.

I’m not sure how the list brokerage actually works? I assume the purchaser doesn’t get the list, they just get access to the list, and provide the broker with the thing they want mailing out? But does the broker have access to the lists, and are they data controllers of their contents? If so, I should be able to make a Data Protection Act subject access request of them to find out which lists I’m on and what information each of them has about me?

See also: Demographically Classed, which lists the segments used in the ACORN and MOSAIC geodemographic segmentation schemes.

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

2 thoughts on “List Brokerage – Putting Data About You to Work…”

  1. Way, way, way back – when I first had a job and worked for a publisher that made its money by selling advertising space in the free magazines we sent out, I had a job in the circulation department. And, yes, we had physical lists. Masses and masses of that zig-zag computer paper with the perforations on the side, and each time someone wrote in to say they wanted to be removed from the mailing list, I had to leaf through the paper and cross them out manually. What I didn’t have access to was the virtual mailing list – there weren’t any computers in the circulation department, although there was an adding machine. Every so often the paper copy had to be sent back to the list broker, to be updated on their computer and then reprinted.

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