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DATA NEWS: Royal Mail announce revamp of PAF licence

Royal Mail is intending to overhaul its outdated licence for the Postal Address File, in order to make it fairer and more accessible.

The PAF contains all known UK residential and business delivery addresses and postcodes and is often employed by B2B marketers for direct marketing and by data capture companies, including 193 licensed data solutions providers.

"We know that the current licence is not always easy to understand, so we want to simplify it and make it easier for companies to do business with us," says head of Address Management Unit at Royal Mail, Jennie Longden, adding that the aim of the proposed changes is to introduce a licence that is clearer and fairer to all users. "Our aim has always been to support the growth of markets that use PAF to add value to products and services," she says. "It is our intention to build on the existing agreement, to ensure a fair and level playing field for all our customers," she continues.

Royal Mail intends the new licence to reflect actual use of PAFmore closely.  "We will encourage and widen the use of PAF by lowering barriers to entry," says Longden, adding that changes will be revenue neutral and prices will be more reflective of the use of the data either through the amount of use or number of users. "We will encourage market growth and ensure any changes minimise overall disruption in the market place."

The DMA is reluctant to comment on the announcement without having seen a draft of proposed changes. Alex Walsh, head of the association's postal affairs, feels that there shouldn't be any additional administrative burden to value-added resellers, and that if this is the case they should be remunerated. "Nobody wants to see unnecessary increases in price," says Walsh.

  Stuart JohnstonStuart Johnston, sales and marketing director of data-resellers Experian QAS (soon to move to an MD position), is less concerned about the proposed changes, explaining that the current license is drastically outdated. "There's no doubt that it needed to be bought into this century," says Johnston, explaining that both the use of the PAF and the technology surrounding it have changed since the original licence's inception over 10 years ago.

Johnston anticipates that the new licence will have additional liabilities for heavier users of the file, and that those who use it less will pay less. The overall impact might not be as noticeable in B2B sectors as in B2C, he suggests.

Johnston also believes that Royal Mail's greatest challenge regarding the licence has been in building a model that incorporates franchises, corporate licensing and subsidiary models.

He feels that any changes made should be based on what content users access and how often, and not affected by the technology that they use to access it.

"The market will be better served once the license has had a chance to be vetted in," says Johnston.

There will be an open consultation period from 4 November to 24 December to ensure that the views of both resellers/solution providers and direct customers are fully considered.

The new PAF licence and a new price tariff will be published in April 2009, and will come into effect by September of the same year.


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