Tag Archives: Localeze

NeuStar Buys TargusInfo, Parent of Localeze, for $650 Million

TargusInfo, a major direct marketing tools provider and the parent company of Localeze, a “Big 3” provider of business listings, will be acquired by NeuStar for $650 Million in cash. The deal enhances NeuStar’s positioning as a leader in authentication services across the Internet and voice networks, whether fixed-line, cable, or mobile. Authentication is expected to dramatically grow with the boom in digital services such as movie downloads. Both companies are based in Northern Virginia.

Localeze’s listings business is not the biggest factor in the acquisition, but the division’s focus on enhanced SMB and franchise profiles will likely fit into the mix. TargusInfo is perhaps best known in the direct marketing world for its lead gen scoring techniques which evaluate the likelihood that a lead will turn into a sale. TargusInfo is also well known for its Caller ID verification service, among other real time, on demand information and analytics services. It helps process more than 100 billion annual transactions around the world.

TargusInfo posted $149 million in revenues for the year ending September 30. Combined, the two companies earned $732 million.

“The people who know both of us understand that billions of times every day Neustar and TARGUSinfo flawlessly help people find each other, connect to one another and share.,” notes Neustar CEO Lisa Hook in a blog post. “By combining TARGUSinfo’s leadership in Caller ID and online information services, such as lead verification and scoring, with Neustar’s strengths in network information services, including address inventory management, network security, and marketing analytics, we will be able to greatly extend Neustar’s ability to provide its customers services based on unique, non-replicable datasets.”

Localeze President Jeff Beard told us that “at the end of the day, it is all about providing real time intelligence about identity. The vast majority of that is consumer identity,” he says. Beard adds that Neustar’s interest in TargusInfo is on several levels, including local search. Major tech companies such as IBM, Intel and others are all getting more involved in local search as part of their broader activity, he notes.

‘Write Once, Read Everywhere’ Extends to Restaurants via SinglePlatform

“Write once, read everywhere” concepts are popular ones with so many platforms to serve. Agendize is probably the king of these for listings and appointments, serving more than 66 unique platforms. Localeze and Universal Business Listings are other key players that come to mind for managing name address and phone (NAP) information.

Other companies are specializing in other write once, read everywhere applications for such areas as classifieds (i.e. Travidia’sBamboo Net). Now, for restaurant information, including social and mobile media, we have “SinglePlatform.”

The New York-based company was started over a year ago by entrepreneur Wiley Cerilli, with a first round raise of $1.2 million . Eleven years ago, Cerilli was one of several people developing Seamless Web, an online food ordering service that was sold in July 2006 to Aramark, the food services giant.

Cerilli saw a need for SinglePlatform because restaurants increasingly needed to post information such as specials, events and menus on a broad range of media –social media, mobile, directories, city guides, even games — and acquire new customers. Single Platform’s sales people make premise calls with iPad demos that emphasize the need to create a “full browser” self-serve experience, rather than a simple website.

One revenue model that is being pursued is based on pay per call leads. Calls to merchants on the company’s dedicated number costs $1.00. The company shares a portion of the revenue with publishers that work with it. Cerilli says that the company has already signed up companies such as Localeze, FoodSpotting, Menuism and Blackbook Magazine.

InfoGroup on Merchant Supplied Data: Useful, but No Substitute

Merchant data sent in by fans of merchants and from merchants themselves is becoming increasingly important. Can it be relied on as a main source, or should it only complement listings data from the big three providers —InfoGroup, Acxiom and Localeze?

We talked to InfoGroup VP of Business Development Pankaj Mathur about it. Not surprisingly, he has mixed feelings. It is certainly useful and cost effective, and from an SEM perspective, there is sometimes the feeling that “more (data elements) is better,” he says.

But he warns that accuracy and reliability are more important than ever before, especially with mobile phones that can send people to bad locations. Also looming is the sense that merchants are incentivized to misrepresent themselves so that they can boost their search rankings or be found under lucrative-but- wrong categories (i.e. cab companies under “airports”).

InfoGroup (and probably the other leaders in the space) instead take the “trust but verify” approach to merchant data. The company receives 10-15k submissions per month from multiple partners such as OnStar, Yahoo! and AOL. “We find that about 50 percent of these submissions are false positive like duplicates or incorrect information, “says Mathur.

In a newly issued article, Mathur goes into more detail about the importance of the duplicates issue. In franchise corporations, for instance, there may be lists of storefronts within marketing departments, operations departments and accounting deparrtments. They don’t always overlap with LBS (location based services) requests, he notes.

Moreover, retailers often neglect to delete or change storefront information – something that creates a special mess when companies such as Starbucks close hundreds of units throughout the country. Mathur suggests one step updaters (such as his company’s “Express Update”) are a partial answer, In the meantime, the validated information from the leading listings providers remains in the driver’s seat.

Localeze ‘Confidence Scores’ Addresses SMB Spam

There’s too much “noise” with SMB information, and no one knows which businesses have up-to-date and fully populated information. Many SMBs, for instance, will have two or more sets of profiles, featuring different types of information. Think, for instance, of all the directory sites asking SMBs to “claim” their listing. The frequent result is a mish-mash that doesn’t help the search engines, or consumers, and even may mislead them.

Now Localeze, a big 3 listings provider, alongside InfoUSA and Acxiom, has developed a standardized format that reports “confidence scores” for 500,000 SMB listings under management. It hopes, of course, to gain many more.

As managers of hundreds of listing accounts for large and regional chains (among other things), CEO Jeff Beard and Business Development guy Gib Olander know first-hand how the mess builds up. What happens is that businesses don’t tend to change their information when they add or delete a location, or features, or services. That point is especially driven home with so many recently vacated storefronts.

Some of the mess is also caused by SMBs gaming the system. For instance, a horde of locksmiths in Manhattan have entered multiple entries in a manner that has overwhelmed their entries on Google Maps. “Everyone is a publisher,” says Olander. “There are hundreds of thousands of Locksmith spams on Google Maps.”

The confidence scores are designed to quell the problem by providing a unique finger print for every business. The scores are meant to gives uses more to go on than what they currently have: simple alphabetical listings, and how far away they are located.

The scores go from 0-100 percent, and are based on reconciling the information that it sees from multiple profiles. It standardizes the info,deletes multiple entries, and adds criteria such as recent updates, etc.

A company that hasn’t changed any information for eight months won’t be scored as highly as a company that constantly maintains the listing. “Time and frequency are very important,” says Olander. Most active businesses change at least some of their information every month.

Not every Localeze affiliate will use the scores. But Beard says that their development shows his company’s evolution from a “simple database shop.” The company is now involved in a much broader part of the marketing mix, he says.