DVLA to market data on motorists and vehicles

Motoring data will be available for first time

Data on 25 million motorists and their vehicles is to be made available for the first time, in a move that will create an opportunity for fmcg manufacturers to specifically target car owners.

But some sources in the direct marketing industry are angry that there will be a limit on the information available when the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) starts selling data in January. The money raised will be fed into the Treasury.

The details on the type of information to be made available and restrictions to be placed on it are revealed here for the first time. They are the result of discussions involving the DVLA, the Depart-ment of Transport and the Data Protection Registrar, leading to a compromise which means individual names and addresses will not be released.

“It was my understanding that the DVLA was also going to make names and addresses available,” says a senior direct marketing source. “Without that, the information will only represent general research. Information is always valuable but ultimately it is the end-user that we need to identify.”

Updated every quarter by the Swansea-based government agency, the information will allow multiple search fields such as make, model, colour, date of first registration, date of acquisition by current keeper and number of previous owners, to be cross-referenced against every postal sector in the UK.

The information will be of most value to motor companies planning dealerships and to media buying agencies acting for manufacturers trying to improve the co-ordination of regional campaigns. But other non-motor manufacturers could also use the data for regional marketing activity.

The DVLA argues that the information, despite its limitations, is still valuable. “Being able to pinpoint geographical areas with specific patterns of vehicle ownership will be useful not only to the motor industry,” says Alison Jorgensen of the DVLA’s business development and marketing group, “but also to several sectors of the lifestyle and leisure market.”

The government agency is in the process of selecting a company to process and manage the data.

Powers to allow the sale of “government-held tradeable information” were originally granted by Parliament in January 1995 and fall in line with Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) guidelines on the release of data.

A lengthy consultation and approval process involving the Department of Transport, Coopers & Lybrand and the Data Protection Registrar (DPR) concluded that no information should be released about specific vehicle regis-trations, chassis numbers, or the names and addresses of vehicle keepers. But sources in the direct marketing industry predict that pressure will continue for more information.

The DVLA will also introduce safeguards to protect the identification of motorists with older or rarer vehicles and those in postal districts with less than 320 addresses.

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