CATEGORY: Data Quality

REVIEWER: Connie Williams, manager of analytical development and quality assurance for Gannett Co., Inc.

BACKGROUND: Gannett Co., Inc. is an international news and information company that publishes 99 daily newspapers in the USA, including USA Today, the nation's largest-selling daily newspaper. The company also owns in excess of 300 non-daily publications in the USA and USA Weekend, a weekly newspaper magazine. Gannett also operates 22 television stations in the United States and is an Internet leader with sites sponsored by most of its TV stations and newspapers including, one of the most popular news sites on the Web.

PLATFORMS: The Group 1 products are running on the AS/400 platform.

PROBLEM SOLVED: Group 1's software solutions help Gannett optimize customer data quality. Gannett sends out a substantial volume of customer correspondence, as well as a number of newspapers, including USA Today, via the mail. By using Group 1's products in both online and batch environments, we can verify customer address data, thereby making sure that our mailings are deliverable.

PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Group 1's data quality solutions improve data integrity and enable Gannett to achieve higher delivery rates. We can then use this cleansed address data to feed a number of analysis tools, which enables us to more effectively conduct target marketing. We also utilize Group 1's customer data quality tools to merge outside lists that add demographic and lifestyle characteristics. Group 1's products ensure our mailings meet United States Postal Service (USPS) regulations and qualify for discounts through CASS and PAVE certifications.

STRENGTHS: Group 1's products play an integral role in helping us build and maintain a core marketing database with clean, accurate customer data. Valid subscriber address data, when combined with appended demographic and household information, is valuable to our advertisers by giving them greater insight into the people to whom they are marketing. Group 1 is the leading vendor for USPS- related software. By using their products, we know our mailings are best structured to comply with USPS policies. It is important to note that we have enjoyed working with Group 1 for nearly ten years. In addition, Group 1 has a close relationship with the USPS and is attuned to what the postal service is doing.

WEAKNESSES: Since we integrate Group 1's products into our own custom applications, time is of the essence. In some situations, we wish we had received the software a bit earlier than we did. We have also encountered minor issues that have made the installation process a bit difficult. For the most part, the Group 1 products are running well with only a few weaknesses. With one of the products, we have had a few performance issues. However, we are quite satisfied with the products.

SELECTION CRITERIA: There were a few factors that led us to selecting Group 1's products. We were having some difficulties with mail delivery and were getting a substantial amount of returned mail. At the same time, we were trying to maintain our own solution in house, which posed some difficulty. Another factor in selecting postal software was due to database marketing initiative Gannett was doing at the time, and Group 1 had solutions that enabled us to merge outside databases.

We saw Group 1 as the leader in the direct marketing applications space and were confident with their solutions since the postal service was also using Group 1's products. We got a positive endorsement from our colleagues at Gannett Direct Marketing, who used the products. We also were comfortable selecting Group 1 because they, like us, are located in the Washington, D.C., area.

DELIVERABLES: The products output the statements and reports required to receive postal discounts from the USPS.

VENDOR SUPPORT: The vendor support has been adequate and has gotten better in the past few years. As a member of Group 1's National User Group, we have access to some Group 1 associates that are outside the normal support channels.

DOCUMENTATION: The documentation is solid, but it would be difficult to use the software relying on the users' guides alone. Group 1's education courses have helped us learn the products.

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