Monday, August 25, 2008

Monday Morning's Musings...

I'm back after a lovely, restful weekend and ready to seize the day.
First of all, I want to finish up my review of contact list subscription services for creatives. In my last blog entry on the subject (here), I had just finished the test trial of the AdBase service.
Before I proceed, in the interest of full disclosure and even handedness in these reviews, I feel I must emphasize that my findings are purely subjective regarding the two list services reviewed here. Both reviews are based on very limited testing during a short, free-trial period offered by both services. In my attempt to gauge both services and their accuracy and inclusiveness, I conducted highly targeted searches of each data base. Each targeted search was aimed at well known companies and/or potential art buyers both locally & internationally. 
I will come back briefly to the AdBase service momentarily. Since I have already offered a subjective opinion of that service, let's move quickly on to Agency Access. This service is comparable, maybe just slightly more expensive than the AdBase service previously tested. Agency Access also provides contacts in their data base for both North America & Europe. Agency Access also offers a free trial period. I signed up for the trial last Wednesday, I was contacted by email by Dan Caruso, a promotional consultant for Agency Access and given a password to activate my trial period.
My first impressions (and again, I stress that these are subjective opinions based on very limited use of both systems) are that Agency Access was slightly less intuitive to navigate. My first targeted search was for Print Advertising Agencies in Hawaii. Most of the big players were listed in this database. Again, LCA, one of the largest agencies in the state, though listed, provided only one contact for a principal (name on the door) creative director.
As my target audience, promotionally speaking,  is to be large hotel & resort chains... I next conducted a search for two of the largest, best branded international chains. Both were completely absent from the data base. I attempted my search for these chains several ways, yielding no results for either. At this point, I called Dan Caruso by telephone to see if I had somehow erred in my search for these two large resort chains. Mr. Caruso conducted his own search and confirmed that, indeed, neither were included in the Agency Access data base. At this point. I concluded my trial use of Agency Access.
For each of these services I tested, both had significant omissions that I found troubling. Both times, I alerted my contact person at both services to these omissions. Only AdBase responded with any concern regarding their omissions. In fact, AdBase responded by saying that they had immediately set their research staff on to the task of correcting the mentioned omissions and updating the data base. Agency Access' only response was that the mentioned omissions were indeed missing from the data base.
While both services claim to be constantly verifying and updating their contact data base, it was only AdBase that has followed up with me numerous times regarding the omissions that I reported. So far, I have received no follow-up or additional contact from Agency Access.
Prior to the trial of AdBase, as I wrote before, I was contacted by a representative who gave me a free phone consult and online-demo via screen share to insure that I could quickly acclimate myself to their search, list-making and email promo services. Agency Access, in turn, simply provided a password via email and then turned me loose in their system.

Both services cover contacts in North America (US & Canada). Agency Access' data base also includes Europe. Neither service provides contacts in Asia, although the representative of AdBase did provide me information for a UK based list service that does provide contact lists in Asia. Both services, at full subscription rate, will run you around $1100usd/year (give or take) during the discounted promotional offer that expires at the end of August. Both services provide click-thru data for email promotions along with several template designs for creating those promos. Both services also offer a way to create & print mailing labels for direct mail promos.

After conducting my test of both services, I am leaning heavily towards AdBase. They have been the most insistent that my user experience be satisfactory, they have been the only service to initiate contact with me, to promise to correct obvious exclusions and provide follow-up. They have also been insistent that should I continue to find omissions, that I can contact the research department (at no additional fee) and have them report back with updates to those omissions which I have the option of either using privately in my own list creation or making available to all subscribers to the service. In addition, AdBase offers "points" to users for every company those users submit corrections for. One point/per correction. Once 10 points are collected, AdBase rewards the user with a $25 Amazon gift certificate as a token of their appreciation.

For those of you considering subscribing to a contact list service such as AdBase or Agency Access, I encourage you to sign up for their trial services yourself and arrive at your own conclusions. And... remember, both services offer a $200 discount of their annual subscriptions through the end of August.

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