Exploring Local
Mike Dobson of TeleMapics on Local Search and All Things Geospatial

infoUSA and Local Search

June 12th, 2007 by admin

As I mentioned last time, I had an interesting conversation with Pankaj Mathur, a senior account executive with infoUSA. . For those of you unfamiliar with infoUSA, it is a publicly held corporation with revenues in the $600 to $800 million range. The company represents itself as the”…the leading provider of business and consumer information products, database marketing services and sales and marketing solutions.” Our specific interest in the company is focused on its proprietary database of approximately 14 million U.S. businesses. It should be noted that the company also maintains a database of 218 million U.S. and Canadian Consumers.

Why are we interested in infoUSA? Because it appears to us that infoUSA has the best business listings in the industry and is working hard to expand that advantage. Pankaj described the process to me and provided several supporting documents. What follows is my understanding of infoUSA’s business and any errors or inaccuracies should not reflect on Pankaj.

infoUSA is located in Nebraska and has an employee count of around 5,000. A team of around 800 researchers compile and maintain the Company’s databases in Omaha. Although we are fond of calling their database a business listings database, infoUSA often refers to itself as “The leading POI (points of interest) data provider in North America”. The company provides their business listings for applications involving navigation, telematics, Internet Yellow Pages (local search), directory assistance (411) and location based services.

The database is compiled from over 6,000 Yellow Page directories, 4,200 business white pages, utility connect and disconnect notices, official documents dealing with business filings, annual reports, SEC filing, etc. The Company has around 300 full-time telephone verification agents who make 90,000 calls a day to gather information about businesses. infoUSA claims that 15% of the database is touched every month. In a typical month they add 130,000 new businesses and delete 120,000 records for businesses that have closed. In 2006 they added 1.7 million new businesses and deleted 1.6 million businesses. Also in 2006, over 40% of all of its records were modified in some way. Finally, the Company claims that it spends over $45 million to update, augment and extend their data.

infoUSA also claims that its database provides the business listings for the majority of the local search and IYP providers in the United States. Our knowledge of the industry confirms this fact.

In our last few blogs, we highlighted various problems that result when using local search to find businesses and were not highly impressed with the results. What’s the link? Well, the business listing provider is the source of the address and if the address is incorrect, the business location cannot be correctly mapped nor can a route be calculated to find the business. Moreover, if the business is not categorized appropriately by the database provider, it may not be found during your search for the category you think it might be found in.

infoUSA is doing some interesting work to resolve issues of address, strip-mall location and business classification In our next blog, we will describe what infoUSA is doing to improve the accuracy of results in searches involving finding business locations.

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Posted in Data Sources, Geotargeting, Local Search, Mapping

One Response

  1. admin

    This comment was sent to us in an email by Gib Olander of Amacai Information Corporation during our earlier snafu with Comments. He asked us to post it for him. His comment is presented below.

    You touch on a couple of very interesting points, thank you for sharing your point of view. The difficulties of categorization are one of the most challenging things about a local search database. Another is accuracy and accuracy can be different depending on the application in which you are using the database. The last challenge, I’ll mention is finding data which offers you context about the business? There are several US database providers in the market, each with there strong suits and price points. Today, many of the major search engines use multiple sources for local search business content. So, I think multiple companies can and do claim that they provide data to the majority of the local search engines while the infousa statement might be accurate it is a bit misleading.

    When looking for US business content, particularly for a local search application it is important to talk to all the players in the industry. Acxiom, Localeze, ibegin, Truelocal and infosua. Building a local search database is very complex and interesting task, it’s a process that is never complete. Today is the first time I’ve come across your blog, again thanks for sharing and I look forward to future posts.