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Data Marketing
Copywriter: Lee Bratton, Senior Account Manager, YouCom Direct

Love your data and it will reward your brand.  In such a competitive global economy, data marketing is necessary for every organisation.  For local search advertising, the data brands have about their customers enable better keywords and rich content for improved Google results.  Data marketing can be split into two parts.  Historical data and predictive data.  Historical data most companies have (even if they don’t collect it very well).  It will include the name and contact details but also buying recency, frequency, monetary value (RFM); interests and other transactional data.  Predictive data will look at customer geo-demographics, lifestyle, propensity to respond to different offer types etc.


But brands can’t just gather data for the sake of it.  Companies must learn to ask the right questions.  Agencies will generally help marketing managers define the information they need because they work on many different brands all wanting to increase market share from brand marketing or performance marketing.  Here are some examples of ‘brands’ that know the data they need to meet their goal.


MI5 use sophisticated computer programs to analyse data

MI5 will be using sophisticated computer programs to analyse social media feeds, CCTV cameras (where other systems interact like number plate recognition software), Oyster card data and many more, that will help their goal to keep us safe from terrorists.  


Tesco pioneered the use of supermarket data marketing as we know it today with the first widely applied loyalty card.  They know what you buy, what time of day (or night) you buy, how frequently you buy, what promotions are successful for you and how your eyes look around a store.  They can then combine this with social media groupings to alter buying behaviour.  As consumers we are all happy to participate because stores like Boots give us good rewards.  But woe betide you buy hair loss gel for a friend, because you’re going to receive a lot of hair loss promotions over the next six months!


Social Media sites like Facebook will have similar face recognition software to the security services and are (as you read this) even now analysing your photos to find you ‘friends’, people who look similar to your family and friends which may make you click to connect with.  They also use contextual data targeting.  Announce to your friends you are getting engaged and advertisers searching to advertise wedding services will suddenly have you added to their list of targets to receive their advert.  Now you are bombarded with wedding photographer adverts (or pre-nuptial solicitor services for the more cynical).  


It means ‘they’ really do know everything.  If the data is used for performance marketing, which YouCom Direct specialise in, then the data will help generate better keywords and rich content to ensure directory listings appear for the most relevant searches in a certain store radius.  This will also mean competitor search results are pushed down the page and often to page two, so it has an added bonus.  Targeted copywriting in directories increases calls, click-through-rates (CTR) and improves conversion rates from call to sale and from click to sale (the latter being notoriously poor).  To learn more about how data marketing could work for you, email us below.  

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Glossary: CTR – Click-through-rate RFM – Recency Frequency Monetary Value

Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Nov 2019, London, ‘Data Marketing’.


Data Marketing
Copywriter: Lee Bratton, Account Manager, YouCom Direct


Have you ever seen your business listed on a directory site and wondered how it got there? Perhaps the information is wrong and you correct it but it reverts back to the incorrect data again? It will help if you understand the origin of that information. The national database known as OSIS.    

In this article, YouCom Direct will share;

– What is OSIS?
– Why you can’t change your business details on the directory site displaying the wrong data.
– How you can change your business details on OSIS.
– How do you find OSIS?
– European OSIS
– Alternative databases.

As a directory agency we manage a company’s details for their stores across all print and online directories. It is our knowledge together with buying power that makes us a valuable partner. But we don’t just keep our knowledge to ourselves. OSIS is not widely known but equally it’s no secret either.  

What is OSIS?

“OSIS” stands for Operator Services Information System and is a stream of seemingly endless data flowing along corridors of database servers.


Like all large datasets, OSIS is much in demand and has never lost its popularity. It is a database of directory data managed by BT Wholesale Directory Services. The data is used to populate the BT Phone Book printed directory and is bought by other companies such as Thomson Local, Yellow Pages (once owned by BT), the 118 telephone directory companies and a large amount of online directory sites.   

YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-4       YouDirectories-OSIS-the-origin-of-directories-Yalwa  

Directory sites like are very well established, has 10.9 million monthly views, but how did they begin? Look at, see how different they are to Yalwa currently have 82,000 monthly views (a far cry from 10.9 million), yet they already seem to have a lot of businesses listed on their site.  

This means when your customers search for your business, one of the Google search results could show a Yalwa URL link. But the information could be incorrect. Perhaps your telephone number is wrong on Yalwa, or the address inaccurate.

So how did they obtain their data and your business details specifically?  

BT Wholesale is obliged to make OSIS available to any organisation who wishes to pay for it, specifically under Universal Service Condition 7.4 (USC7.4) which states that

“BT shall supply [the contents of a directory information database] on terms which are fair, objective, cost-oriented and not unduly 
discriminatory…”. A condition frequently challenged by those who pay to rent it. 


The OSIS database contains more than 26 million residential and business names, addresses, and telephone numbers supplied to BT by over 80 UK Communication Providers and sources such as Companies House.  

When an individual requests a new telephone line and agrees to be listed in the telephone directory, the data will be entered into BT OSIS. When a new business starts up, the data will be entered into BT OSIS. This makes the BT OSIS database very accurate and up-to-date (The database is updated 6 days a week).    

There are three types of entry on the OSIS database:

Directory Entry – The printed phone book is comprised of these records. A telephone number can be appended to a name and address that matches to a directory entry record on OSIS.

Directory Enquiries Only – These listings are not present in the phone book, but are made available to directory enquiry 118 services. You can append a phone number from these entries where it matches the name and address on your record.

Ex-Directory – Ex-Directory listings are only available in telephone directory enquiry 118 services. Don’t worry, only the fact that the record is ex-directory may be provided.


Why can’t you change your business details on the directory site displaying the wrong data?

Type your business brand name and the town of your store location into a search engine like Google. If you see an incorrectly listed entry for your business on an online directory like Yalwa, why can’t you contact them and change it?  

The short answer is, you can. You can also pay them for a paid-listing to feature more prominently in their search results (the fundamental service of YouCom Direct as an agency). But the next time that online directory uploads a new data feed from OSIS, all the non-paid for listings will be replaced by the OSIS data. In other words, although you’ve changed the incorrect data, the change is overwritten by the old incorrect data from OSIS.

You can’t stop the waves and you can’t surf against the tide either…    


How can you change your business details on OSIS?

Keeping it simple, there are two options.

One, contact BT Wholesale and make a formal request to amend the data. This process can take between three to six months. You will need to check it afterwards to ensure there isn’t a duplicate data entry still containing the old incorrect data.  

Secondly, you can take the stance of the larger advertisers and pay a specialist directory agency like YouCom Direct to do it for you. YouCom Direct will reach out to BT OSIS and change your data as quickly as 1-2 weeks. We see it in all walks of life that businesses respond quicker, to other companies whom they sell to (in our case, BT sells directory advertising to us for paid listings and paid classified adverts).  


How do you find OSIS?

You don’t find OSIS.  OSIS finds you. 

But you can change their data.

BT Wholesale Directory Solutions (BTWDS) is a ring-fenced unit within BT Wholesale. They aggregate telephone number information from Communication Providers (CPs) in order to produce an accurate central telephone number database historically referred to as the OSIS database. Under OFCOM regulations, all UK CPs that have signed a Schedule 11 agreement have to provide BTWDS with their customers’ name, address and telephone number information. At present there are over 80 CPs in the UK e.g. BT, Virgin Media, Cable & Wireless etc.  

OSIS data can only be used in Directory Products and Services by companies who wish to produce Directory Information products or services, who agree to their pricing terms and gains authorisation from BTWDS to receive OSIS data. OSIS data is sold under specific terms and conditions including the Data Protection Act 1998 and the Information Commissioners Code of Practice on Telecommunications Directory Information covering the Fair Processing of Personal Data and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. – Licensees must agree to abide by these within the terms of the Directory Information Licence Agreement. OSIS cannot be used for Validation and Verification of individuals or in associated Validation and Verification Services.    


European OSIS

Operator Services Information Systems aren’t only peculiar to the UK of course. YouCom Direct talk with media owners across Europe and manage listings in several EU countries. In Sweden these are primarily Eniro and Rejta businesss directory websites, Din Del and the 118 118 directory assistance service. In Norway, Proff and the 1880 directory assistance are the main directories. Danish search services are marketed under the (now owned by Eniro), Mostrup and Den Røde Lokalbog brands plus several others, while Panorama Firm is the brand in Poland. Finland customers encounter the 0100100 brand.

All take their data from OSIS equivalents such as Factual, a database of 75.8 million local business listings in 50 countries. Or Schober, a B2B data provider in Germany.    

Alternative databases

There are other data sources also, OSIS shouldn’t be the only place you look.  

The Postcode Address File

(PAF) is a database of every address in the UK to which mail is delivered, together with its appropriate postcode. This database contains over 28 million addresses of residential, business and other organisations. The PAF is produced by the Royal Mail and is updated quarterly.

The National Change of Address register
(NCOA) records individuals and businesses when they relocate. CRM practices teach all marketing mangers that to retain existing customers is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. With the NCOA register you can maintain contact with your customers when they move home, saving cost and increasing profits via an elongated customer life cycle.

The Gone Away Suppression
(GAS) File from The Data Agency uses both public and private data sources and is a compiled list of individuals at addresses they are known to have moved from. In every case, each move out is qualified by a move in to ensure accuracy.

Despite the other data sources, OSIS is certainly the most powerful database storing data on your business and if you don’t ensure its correct (and remains correct…), then every other organisation and directory site renting their data, will broadcast incorrect details about your brand and ruin your SEO.

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OSIS – Operator Services Information System

GAS – Gone Away Suppression

NCOA – National Change of Address register

PAF – Postcode Address File

B2B – Business to Business

YALWA – Yet another local web application

CP – Communication Providers

SEO – Search engine optimisation

BTWDS – BT Wholesale Directory Solutions

Data source:

OSIS Definition

BT Wholesale

Universal Service Condition explained within an Ofcom dispute raised by Thomson Local over costs of renting OSIS.

Ofcom dispute on OSIS rental costs between The Number (118 188) and BT wholesale proving that telephone directories like 118 118 also obtain their business data from OSIS

EU Factual Database

Schober Database

Required reference

YouCom Direct News Article, Jul 2019, London, ‘OSIS, the origin’.


Data Marketing
Copywriter: Lee Bratton, Senior Account Manager, YouCom Direct

Everyone wants to personalise their look


Everyone wants to personalise their look.  E-commerce has for a long time seen the benefits and value to data personalisation. Amazon and Tesco are famous online sellers who collect vast amounts of data on customer’s purchasing patterns. They analyse recency and frequency of purchase, behavioural trends and patterns. These are used to power their offers and suggestions to sell you more things. ‘Bricks & Mortar’ sellers, often struggle to replicate those successes (with exception to those that do well on both like Tesco). In 2018 we have identified a shift in understanding with physical retailers making changes to introduce personalisation practices.

70 percent of retailers are personalising the in-store experience


According to one research company, 70 percent of retailers with a physical store presence are now personalising the in-store experience to compete with their online counterparts. Let us introduce ‘Facenote’, a machine learning AI software that recognises your customers using face recognition techniques. By personalising the customer service, briefing sales staff to personal preferences and tracking their needs, such software can lead to greater customer loyalty and retention as well as upselling benefits.

To register, brands invite their customers to be identified by texting their selfies


The software requires only a simple webcam or regular security camera.  Its algorithms allow for customer recognition and identification. Shoppers can then be welcomed by name, and staff on the sales floor can be briefed on each customer’s personal preferences and purchasing habits. In-store product recommendations can then be personalised in the same way that Amazon does to you online.  To register, brands invite their customers to be identified by texting their selfies or sharing Instagram images.

Amazon uses algorithms to personalise user’s homepages


A study by salesforce found that 52 percent of consumers would switch from a brand that doesn’t personalise their marketing communications.  This is why Amazon uses algorithms to personalise user’s homepages with product recommendations based on previous search and purchase history. When you read this, you think “makes sense”.  But the majority of retailers have a simple one-size-fits-all generic homepage for all logged-in users, irrespective of age, gender, behaviour, disposable income etc.

85 percent are likely to buy from a personalised mail order catalogue


The real winners in marketing are those who personalise a service or product leading to add-on sales, upselling and organic growth.  Scotts of stow are a growing mail order company who succeed with catalogues littered with the recipient’s name making various products more appealing.  Consumers will open the catalogue and see a doormat with their family’s surname on it for example and are 85 percent more likely to buy it as a result.  More than this, they do it extremely well making it seem less like a Photoshoped digital makeover and more like it is a real selling product that everyone else is buying.

Netflix know if you haven't seen this film


Netflix are one to do similar and of course they use the latest AI technology to assist their algorithm analysis.  For example, if they know you haven’t yet seen Knight and Day with leading actors Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz, but you have watched many other Tom Cruise films, they will tailor the film cover in their ‘recommendations’ to show Tom Cruise.

If you watch Cameron Diaz films, you will see the Knight and Day film cover with Cameron Diaz on it.  It is clever marketing that is (relatively) simple to do and (relatively) cheap (brands don’t need to buy billboard adverts for example, simply use existing data to personalise recommendations that lead to more new sales).

Trademark Logo

YouCom Direct specialise in this same approach to business listings by personalising content based on geographic area and even consumer past purchasing history.  We use all the data our clients can share with us (after our usual NDA agreements to protect privacy) to tailor those natural search results showing in Google that originate from business directories.  We have seen a provable uplift in response rate as a result.  To discuss personalisation in more depth contact us on


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Data Source:



Required reference:

YouCom Direct News Article, Dec 2018, London, ‘Personalisation’.


Data Marketing
Copywriter: Matt Roberts, Group Account Director, YouCom Direct

Personalisation by YouCom Direct

At YouCom Direct we focus on something called ‘Design Personalisation’.  We tailor client’s advertising to show accurate local content for stores, but we also have specifically designed adverts for a local audience and personalised messaging.  These adverts have a design that is unlike anything you normally see in Yellow Pages or online and will create customer engagement to drive higher call volumes (as you can see from these images).  

To understand the ROI from marketing design personalisation, we should first look at hospitality marketing.  Hospitality is a collection of supplementary services that adds value to a purchase by treating customers like guests, providing amenities that anticipate the person’s needs during their interaction with the service/product provider.  Hospitality marketing ensures employees treat customers as guests, greeting them with pleasure when meeting them for the first time and when old customers return.  They are creating a personalised experience for each customer.  This creates brand loyalty in a fractious marketplace.  Pret do this very well.

Pret rated the highest on personalised interaction with customers

A survey of 4,500 consumers by Market Force, asked consumers to rate their satisfaction with their last experience at a coffee shop and how likely they would be to recommend it to friends. The data was averaged to rate each company brand on a Composite Loyalty Index.  Pret also rated the highest on seven of the eight critical drivers of satisfaction, primarily driven by ‘friendliness of staff’.  Courtesy for customer’s needs extends to all forms of marketing communication.  Face-to-face like in Pret, but also telephone and online interaction.  

Brands realise the importance of customer lifecycle marketing

Brands realise that the customer lifecycle is more important than short-term sales and seek to build customer loyalty to gain repeat business and upsell opportunities.  In the USA, hospitals make a lot of money from people because they don’t have a national health service free at point of use like in the UK.  They know the reason most families start using a hospital is to give birth and with so many birthing centres and hospital, they face stiff competition.  Stiff competition and a service/product that opens the door to further ‘sales’ opportunities will require hospitality marketing to make that service or product more personal to the customer.

74 percent of marketers know personalisation is good for business

To gain new customers, brands seeking to deliver hospitality marketing messages do so via data personalisation.  According to an Econsultancy study, 74 percent of marketers know personalisation is good for business, yet the same study reveals only 19 percent of marketers are actually using personalisation.  BMW improved sales conversion rates by 30 percent by personalising their media messages with customer’s first names.  BMW know that your brand begins to have added value in the customer’s mind when you design the adverts to create engagement via tools such as personalisation.  

The search for competitive advantage in mature industries will come down to not where you advertise but what and how you advertise.  The creation of value-added services and supplementary services to make your product/service/brand stand out from the competition.  Managers must be aware of selecting the right mix of supplementary services and the right agency will help you to do that.  YouCom Direct won’t just list your store details on websites with high user numbers, we focus on ‘personalising’ your store data to become relevant to the customer on a local level.  Good Design Personalisation is an effective form of local marketing.  

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Data source: Survey by Market Force, a leading global customer intelligence solutions company.  

Required reference: YouCom Direct News, Jun 2017, London, ‘Personalisation.’


Data Marketing
Copywriter: Sam Jones, PR Assistant, YouCom Direct

YouDirectories - Millennials Surpass Baby Boomers

‘Millennials’ say it’s OK to look different to others. 
By the end of 2016, they will outnumber baby boomers.  Many marketing managers rely on the baby boomer consumer segment because they have higher spending power and equity.  Millennials on the other hand are the opposite averaging just 3 years in a job before moving on versus the baby boomer average of 7 years and of course they have less to spend. By the end of 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau predicts that Millennials will “…number 75.3 million, surpassing the projected 74.9 million Boomers.”  

YouDirectories - Many Millennials are still unemployed

Many Millennials are still unemployed, despite a growing job market. Fifty-three percent of HR managers stated it to be difficult finding and retaining millennial talent. One reason could be a more demanding attitude with a wish-list regularly including;

Flexible work schedules

More ‘me time’ on the job

Nearly non-stop feedback and career advice from managers.

They also want to be “No Collar Workers” and wear jeans to work

Open space without walled-in offices.

Regular pay rises regardless of merit


YouDirectories - Baby Boomers outnumbered by Millennials may be saved by Generation X

If baby boomers are soon outnumbered by the above millennials, what does this mean for brands? There are less Millennials in work than their baby boomer parents, with less disposable income on average. Millennials are up on technology which bodes well for brands adapting to ever changing developments as well as brands looking to sell online and tech items.  But millennials aren’t very good team players and are not as loyal employees as Baby Boomers. All brands need to develop contingency plans now, ready for this shift in power as the baby boomers fall from grace and favour.  Saviour may yet come from an unexpected source, a hybrid between a baby boomer and a millennial. The demographic referred to as generation X.  

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Millennials – Also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y, are the demographic that follows Generation X. For more Info: Click Here.

Generation X – often abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the baby boom following World War II. For more Info Click Here.

Baby Boomers – The Baby Boomers are the generation born following World War II. For more Info: Click Here


Required reference: YouCom Direct News Article, Jun 2016, London, ‘Dominant Millennials’.


Data Marketing
Copywriter: Sam Jones, PR Assistant, YouCom Direct

Foursquare PinPoint by YouCom Direct
Pinpoint’s Background
Foursquare is a not a mainstream business directory. But it is a local search and discovery service which provides a personalised local search experience for some 55 million users. By analysing the places a user goes, the things they have said that they like, and the other users whose advice they trust, foursquare suggests highly personalised recommendations of the best places to go around a user’s current location. Currently foursquare users have left more than 70 million tips and checked in to local businesses over 7 billion times. Agencies like YouCom Direct help businesses to claim their locations before then populating them with rich content and direct targeted messages to customers. More than 2 million businesses have to date claimed their locations (not all are YouCom Direct clients but we’re working on it…). Foursquare has more than 65 million places around the world and is used by currently 85,000 developers. Foursquare was launched in 2009 after being created a year earlier. In August 2014, the company launched Foursquare 8.0 which removed the check in and location sharing that began the service, to focus entirely on local search.  


Foursquare 8.0 This new version uses its own technology called “Pilgrim” and automatically detects a user’s location. By comparing historical check-in data with a combination of a user‘s current GPS mobile signal, mobile mast triangulation, mobile signal strength and surrounding Wi-Fi signals, foursquare can tell exactly where you are. Because of this geo-location software, the “check in” has become a thing of the past. Quite simply, you no longer need to tell the foursquare app which business you have visited, it already knows.  


Pinpoint They filter out inaccurate location data, so advertisers receive only the exact places that their audience goes to in the real world. Foursquare attempts to use that data to interpret the relationship between people and places, so brands can target more than just demographics. Marketers can create custom audiences using the geo-demographic (and psychographic) data that they need. It is very early in the development as an advertising service, but the results could become quite impressive.   Follow the YouCom Direct news posts to see the next developments.

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Meanwhile, watch the latest Foursquare Places data.   

Required reference:

‘YouCom Direct News Article, May 2015, London, ‘Foursquare launch Pinpoint’.