More efficient compiling methods, a glut of email lists and generally stagnant economic conditions are all contributing to declining list prices, according to Worldata’s just-released spring 2012 list price index.
The list category with the sharpest decline was business database and master files, which saw a drop in average price to an average of $106 per thousand, a nearly 27% decrease from $145 per thousand a year ago, says Ray Tesi, senior vice president of Worldata.
One possible reason for this is that the prices for aggregated business databases have also plummeted to $76 per thousand, a 15.7% decrease from $90 per thousand a year ago.
"Aggregated databases are sourced from web scraping, crowd sourcing and other compiling methods," says Tesi. “Marketers have now had ample time to test these new sources and have found results that are productive but at much lower list rental costs."
Web scraping and crowd sourcing allow companies to automatically update information about prospects instead of relying on slower, more traditional offline methods such as combing through phone directories.
"When they first came out a few years ago, they were at a higher price," he says. "Now that mailers have used them they see that the response rate is not as high as that of a response list and this is reflected in the continued drop in pricing."
Another list category showing declines is permission-based business-to-consumer email lists, which fell to $75 per thousand, down 19.4% from $93 per thousand in 2011. This category was also lowest priced in this index.
"Consumer email pricing continues to drop significantly as it begins to more closely align with the actual pricing that marketers are paying when they negotiate off of rate card pricing. This drop is a direct result of the ample availability and the overall economy," he says.
Tesi notes he expected the overall economy to have improved more by now but points to the banking and housing crises and other economic conditions over the past few years as possible drags on the recovery of the list business.
The only list categories registering price increases over last spring were donors ($86 per thousand up from $85 per thousand, attendees/members ($134 per thousand up from $133 per thousand), consumer magazines ($94 per thousand up from $93 per thousand) and medium-large businesses ($139 per thousand up from $138 per thousand).
Despite their rapid growth, lists of mobile device and social media network users are not covered in the index. Why? It’s currently too difficult to differentiate them from conventional online lists, says Tesi. "There’s no great push for this right now."