Much Ado About Nothing (yet): Abacus Data, Blackstone Group, The Chinese Government, and Some Tips for Using the Co-ops
As promised, I did some research regarding Abacus and exactly who owns its data after I was challenged when a reader submitted a question (and my lack of a serious answer in a subsequent column). The question was,
Abacus was bought by Epsilon who in turn is owned by Alliance Data Solutions. Alliance Data Solutions was recently bought by a private equity firm, The Blackstone Group. The Chinese government then bought a $3 billion position in The Blackstone Group.
My question was: Who has my data?
What I found out is this: At least for now, your data is safe and not in the hands of the Chinese government. The Blackstone Group has declared its intentions to purchase Alliance data, but the transaction is scheduled to be completed toward the end of the year.
So I wouldn’t worry about your data for now.
Actually, I wouldn’t worry about your data at all. From my perspective, Abacus and the other catalog co-op alliances provide invaluable growth tools for catalog and multichannel marketers. From my experience, I have used Abacus, I-Behavior, NextAction, and others quite successfully to do the following:
1. Build customer acquisition models. I’ve even gone beyond the typical synergy and CHAID type models to build custom models based on ethnicity and prospect sizing (as in, big and tall prospects).
2. Reactivation models to win back past customers and catalog requestors.
3. Optimization models to increase response on lists that are not specific mail order buyers, such as magazine lists.
These organizations also pride themselves on customer service, over the years I’ve worked with plenty of talented and caring individuals.
Here’s a circulation planning tip for you. After your service bureau has finalized your merge/purge, send the final postal file along with any recent buyers (hotlines) who purchased after you sent out the file to merge to the co-op of your choice.
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.