Don’t turn delegation into abdication

By Fiona Sweeney, global sales consultant, Acxiom

Is the art of suppression being lost to the science of automated, push-button services? Recent downward pricing has only contributed to the commoditisation of suppression. In tests carried out by the Suppression Providers’ Alliance, the marketplace displayed a basic lack of knowledge. I believe this is directly linked to the growth of pay-as-you-go data processing.

Suppression should be a subtle process that’s tailored to each individual dataset and record according to its recency, value and sensitivity. The rules dictating which suppression files should be used and the level at which they are applied are fine judgement calls often best made by data experts and clients and tandem. However, the increasing use of automation via easy access software models has turned suppression into an invisible IT process that is increasingly divorced from marketing and customer engagement.

Automated solutions do make suppression more accessible and that’s a positive, of course, however in making suppression easy, the market has also blunted the process. Running all files for every suppression job should not be the default reaction and it’s mistakes like these that are borne out in widespread inadequate suppression practices discovered by the SPA.

The type of data being processed should dictate which files are used and whether these are matched at individual or family level. The difference between recent customer data and disparate prospect data should be a key consideration, as should the value of the item being mailed. In addition, not all data is relevant for suppression and there should be an ability for recent data to over-rule a suppression match – the implications of eliminating a recent buyer go without saying, but it does happen.

While bureaux clearly carry responsibility for the quality of our suppression services, clients also have a role to play. Too few take the time to properly evaluate their suppression needs or really understand the implications that poor or inappropriate suppression has on their business. Delegation has turned into abdication and without client-side commitment to raising standards, I believe the problems are difficult to solve.

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