The rivalry, which is threatening to become the DM industry’s very own version of Sky versus Virgin Media, has been simmering for years. It pits REaD Group’s Bereavement Register against Millennium’s Mortascreen.
Earlier this month, Millennium won round one of the ASA battle after the ad watchdog ruled the REaD Group must ditch an ad for The Bereavement Register in which it claimed to be “market leaders for fast accurate deceased suppression data”.
But now, following a complaint from the REaD Group, Millennium has been forced to scrap an ad in which it claimed: “Access up to 5 times more deceased records. Mortascreen. More records. More recent. More reliable.”
The REaD Group challenged whether the claims were misleading and could be substantiated. In response, Millennium provided evidence that, in two months of the ten-month sample, Mortascreen had added five times as many new records as The Bereavement Register had added for those two months.
The watchdog noted, however, that the full Mortascreen file did not offer five times more records than the full Bereavement Register file. Although it acknowledged that the Mortascreen regularly offered a larger file than its rival, the ad did not make clear that the claims related to the number of new monthly updates. The ASA ruled that the ad must not run again in its current form.
The Mortascreen File, owned by Smee & Ford and managed by Millennium, claims to add 50,000 new records a month, and includes probate information from England, Wales and Scotland, as well as other sources of deceased data. It says it accounts for nearly 95 per cent of all deaths in the UK. The file holds about 8.5 million names, dating back to 1989.
Meanwhile, The REaD Group began The Bereavement Register in 2000, and claims to get monthly updates of between 10,000 and 30,000 records, with information fed through from a variety of sources and a dedicated call centre. It holds just over 3 million records but claims its service is quicker to the market as it is not reliant on probate records.
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