A myriad of issues face marketers trying to tap the interactive audience. At the top of the list is pinpointing Web-site users' locations and finding a way to reach them offline. Surfers can be pegged down to their ZIP codes simply by pulling together geographical market analysis software with Internet marketing data analysis software, say Plurimus Corp. and MapInfo Corp.
The two companies have integrated MapInfo's TargetPro, demographic and segmentation software that offers geography-based demographic information for the offline world, with Plurimus' Internet Summary Data software, which tracks and analyzes customers' online movement based on live data collected from a pool of 3.5 million users. The combination gives marketers the ability to match online behavior with geographical location and create marketing and customer-relationship management programs that can be tailored for specific ZIP codes.
Think of it this way: Wylie Coyote, who lives in a coyote-dominated neighborhood, may be looking for different products online than the Roadrunner, who lives only 10 blocks away in a ZIP code inhabited mostly by speedy birds. By mapping what products each looks at on the Internet, Acme can blanket Wylie's ZIP code with a direct-mail promotion for do-it-yourself bird-catching kits. And it can send Roadrunner and his neighbors some promotions for new sneakers.
The concept may raise some eyebrows when it comes to consumer privacy protection, but Plurimus says its software is designed to prevent the collection of any information more specific than the ZIP code. Data collected by Plurimus is pushed through a "one-way encrypted hash algorithm"--it's washed of all personally identifiable information in a process that cannot be reversed. It's then given a Plurimus ID using third-party geo-coding. Then it's sent to a data warehouse where it can be analyzed. The process is audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers twice a year. Internet Summary Data is priced at $10,000 for a single user desktop to get national coverage.
The deal was sweetened for Plurimus by an equity investment from MapInfo for an undisclosed amount.