May 31, 2006, 12:00 AM

The Whole Picture

(Page 2 of 2)

Blockbuster also uses an internally developed system to monitor in-store and online traffic and consumer demand for different movie titles. Based on regression analysis of that information, Blockbuster will tailor store inventory to the rental patterns of a specific neighborhood or decide which titles to offer online, he says.

NFLShop.com takes a more complex approach to data integration, drawing data from numerous sources, including the NFL web site and the 32 NFL teams’ sites. A data management division of credit card issuer MBNA Corp. hosts and manages the NFL’s database, which holds 18 million unique names acquired through registrations for everything from the shopping site to NFL fan newsletters, Fitzgerald says. MBNA’s data management division operates independently of its card issuing division, which issues the NFL’s Extra Points co-branded credit card.

The NFL then analyzes the data to determine what types of offers to make to customers, Fitzgerald says.

Maximizing the value

“The more sources you’re in, the more avid and more intimate a relationship and the better potential prospect you are if we send you some sort of targeted message,” he says. “That’s maximizing the value of that relationship. The fans get what they want-more contact, more information, more touch points with the league. And we maximize in building out a relationship with our fans.”

Individual teams have access to the database for information related to their own operations. The information can be broken down by such segments as channel, favorite team, and e-mail address and preferences, Fitzgerald says.

If the NFL wants to further segment its customer base, MBNA overlays demographic information purchased from a third-party provider onto NFL-sourced data. For example, the NFL might want demographic data that would give it insight into women with annual incomes of $70,000 who have made a purchase at NFLShop.com in the last two years.

“That helps us understand our fan base in a more comprehensive way than we historically ever had,” he says. “It gives us a better understanding of who our fans are, what they’re interested in and how they want us to market to them and what they want us to market to them.”

Demographic information providers collect data on about 80 variables, including address, gender, income, education levels and geographic locations.

Fitzgerald won’t discuss the costs of running the data integration program, saying the information is proprietary. “There are additional costs involved, but we’re building it out and we’re growing it out in a positive way,” he says.

Six-fold increase

And while he won’t discuss conversion rates, Fitzgerald says the program has shown promise for achieving the NFL’s goal of getting shoppers to use multiple channels. “The number of people who have been engaged in more than one source has increased almost six times from 2003 to 2005,” he says.

There also has been exponential growth in the number of shoppers switching from the catalog to the NFLShop.com site, he says. “Our goal is to drive people to the web,” he says.

Not all retailers can afford to set up a sophisticated data integration program like the NFL’s. But there are lower-cost, easier-to-implement solutions available from boutique marketing services providers, predictive analytics and business intelligence vendors, and CRM providers, Ament of Aberdeen Group says.

And retailers with statisticians on staff could set up an integrated database in-house. “The choice is really up to the organization,” she says.

linda@verticalwebmedia.com

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