Credit card marketers have long turned to a variety of sources for data that make it cost-efficient to find new customers and hold onto them.

Typically, card companies buy credit bureau information first and supplement it from other sources. But now a bumper crop of information services and marketing companies are trying to lure issuers to their products first.

Two big names in this arena - First Data Corp., Omaha, and Donnelley Marketing Inc., Chicago - said last week that they have joined forces to do that.

"The intent is to move marketers away from the credit bureau lists," said Sophie Miller, director of national accounts for Donnelley. "Realistically, carte blanche is more cost-effective than using a bureau extract, and certainly more timely."

First Data's Infosource subsidiary, and Donnelley, the nation's largest consumer information provider, said they are the first to offer a product package that addresses all aspects of card marketing, including acquisition, retention, activation, and usage.

"Credit card issuers realize that they don't just need more marketing programs, they need more effective ones," said Bill Bak, president of First Data Infosource.

"Issuers can obtain more targeted and valuable prospect lists, higher response rates, and ultimately more profitable cardholders" using the Infosource-Donnelley products, he added.

Founded in 1917 and a unit of Dun & Bradstreet until 1992, Donnelley has been working with card issuers for a decade, Ms. Miller said. Among about 25 clients are First Chicago NBD Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., and Citicorp. The two companies have worked together on other projects for seven years, Ms. Miller said.

As a result of the new venture with Infosource, Donnelley said, it hopes to attract smaller retail bank clients. "They know institutions and the financial services industry in an entirely different way," Ms. Miller said of Infosource. "This will allow us to penetrate the market" even deeper than at present.

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