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.
Have them build you a post/merge model to mail. This will allow you to open up an additional source of prospect names. You’ll need to coordinate this with your printer, but most likely the printer already does this for many of its clients.
Speak to you next week.
Jim Gilbert is president of Gilbert Direct Marketing, a full service catalog and direct marketing agency. You can reach him at email@example.com or 561-302-1719.
Jim Gilbert has had a storied career in direct and digital marketing resulting in a burning desire to tell stories that educate, inform, and inspire marketers to new heights of success.
After years of marketing consulting, Jim decided it was time to “put his money where his mouth was" and build his own e-commerce company, Premo Natural Products, with its flagship product, Premo Guard Bed Bug & Mite Sprays. Premo in its second year is poised to eclipse 100 percent growth.
Jim has been writing for Target Marketing Group since 2006, first on the pages of Catalog Success Magazine, then as the first blogger for its online division. Jim continues to write for Total Retail.
Along the way, Jim has led the Florida Direct Marketing Association as their Marketing Chair and then three-term President, been an Adjunct Professor of Direct and Digital marketing for Miami International University, and created a lecture series, “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing,” which he has presented across the country at conferences and universities.