Primary Data Aggregators – The starting point
There are four primary data aggregators relevant to businesses here in the United States: Infogroup, Acxiom, Neustar/Localeze, and Factual. These data aggregators are the primary sources for compiling and distributing business data (NAP, website, etc.) across the web. However, unlike search engines and online directories that are customer-facing, data aggregators do their work behind the scenes.
It is the aggregators’ job in the ecosystem to maintain a database of the live locations (approximately 35 million in the U.S.) and know when new businesses open and business close (go out of business). They do this by collecting hundreds of data points on every business from a wide variety of resources. Everything from public records, to phone companies, to online sources, to even calling each and every one of the millions of businesses out there.
These data points are then cleaned, standardized, validated and finally sold to all kinds of local search sites, data warehouses, marketing firms, and even search engines. Some of those sites like YP.com and Citysearch may only buy this data on a quarterly, or even worse, annual basis, to save money, leading to very stale data. Again, with 1/3 of small businesses going out of business each year and new ones popping up, this is a gargantuan task and leads to dirty data.