AcquireWeb Real-Time Data API

Challenge
AcquireWeb is the source for making quality customer connections online. Founded in 2001, AcquireWeb offers email acquisition and customer management services to enable global companies to leverage existing offline customer relationships, lower online acquisition costs, create new cross-sell opportunities and improve their return on marketing investments. AcquireWeb has successfully collaborated with ESI on the development, market launch, and further maintenance of its flagship AcquireLocal and AcquireVision products. As the online advertising market was becoming more and more competitive, AcquireWeb sought new ways to leverage its proprietary 130mil permission-based prospects database. To win new Fortune 500 clients who were using other companies' products for customer acquisition, AcquireWeb commissioned ESI the development of web services and Real-Time Data API that would enable advertisers, marketers, and publishers to match fragments of customer data collected through their own channels with a complete customer profile gleaned from AcquireWeb proprietary database. Having a better knowledge of their prospects would enable these companies to increase the accuracy of their targeting and to immediate boost ROI. Thus, AcquireWeb Real-Time Data API was meant to be a strategic first step towards winning new clients and further strengthening AcquireWeb market presence.

Result
ESI armed AcquireWeb with a dedicated team who developed an extremely flexible, easily-extendable, and highly-scalable enterprise-level suite of online web services, quickly customizable to the needs of almost any large player in the online advertising space. With guaranteed dedicated team who are still involved in the development of API extensions, maintenance and support, AcquireWeb sales representatives gained the ability to confidently approach Fortune 500 companies who were initially interested in only a few services offered by AcquireWeb fully-featured products. The flexibility of its web services, combined with the low development cost of any on-demand extensions, helped AcquireWeb to strategically position itself against less agile competitors for both extending its market presence and strengthening its position by cross-selling its AcquireLocal and AcquireVision flagship products.

Action
Unlike most other ESI products that had a finite set of market requirements, AcquireWeb Real-Time Data API was meant from its inception to be a continuously evolving set of web services, meant to adapt to an infinite variety of new clients' technical standards and business needs. AcquireWeb needed a guaranteed ability of rapid on-demand API extensions combined with year-round maintenance and support. In response to this need, ESI

  • Thoroughly screened its engineering resources to pick up a small dedicated team of highly-skilled professionals with 5-10 years of relevant experience who intended to stay on the project for at least 3 years.
  • Involved the same business analysts who worked on AcquireLocal and AcquireVision products to assist AcquireWeb product management, marketing, and sales teams in defining the requirements, functionality, and processes for the first iteration of the product.
  • Created clear project management procedures for the engineering team and the involved client-side stakeholders. The project management had to be uniquely adapted for the product's extremely volatile nature. Eventually, ESI and AcquireWeb ended up with an effective blend of Agile (Scrum) and XP (eXtreme programming) project management methodologies.
  • Established daily voice communication sessions with client-side product managers and business analysts, regular progress tracking, and status reporting.
  • Kept all AcquireWeb stakeholders constantly informed about project risks, as well as of any potential inability of ESI team to quickly react to unexpected requests from the client.
  • Established the centralized repository for change request management to track and effectively prioritize functionality extension requests and QA issues.
  • Organized continuous Quality Assurance of incremental improvements to make sure the extensions to the Real-Time Data API are released on time and appropriately tested for use by large-scale high-traffic enterprises applications.

Product Highlights
AcquireWeb Real-Time Data API is the programmatic interface to AcquireWeb SOAP web services that developers can integrate into customers' applications giving them access to AcquireWeb Consumer Datastore.

  • Based on open standards such as Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Web Services Definition Language (WSDL), and the XML Schema Definition language (XSD) that enable developers to access the web services using a programming language of their choice (C#, C++, Java, Perl, PHP, Python).
  • Features the unified access control mechanism consisting of three levels of security protection:
    • A required username and password
    • IP/IP Range access control
    • Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) data transport over HTTP/HTTPS
  • Support WS-I (WSIT) Basic Profile 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2 standards, configured with BasicHTTPBinding and WSHTTPBinding endpoints.
  • Allows for managing capacity dependent upon particular client's needs
  • Offers a range of services, such as
    • E-mail Validation
      • E-mail domain correction
      • Both general and domain-specific e-mail syntax check
      • DNS check
      • Bad domain list check
      • Bad email list check
      • Email existence check via SMTP commands and Internet Service Providers' API
    • Address validation using CASS-compliant software
    • Phone number validation
      • Comprehensive syntax check
      • Area code against geographic code check
  • Matches client-provided information with prospects' profiles in AcquireWeb database, allowing clients to:
    • Obtain prospect's first/last name, phone number, and postal address by e-mail
    • Obtain prospect's near FICO score by e-mail
    • Obtain the list of prospect's possible email addresses given an IP address
    • Obtain prospect's city, state, and zip9 code by IP address
    • Obtain prospect's e-mail, phone number, and credit score given last name and postal address
    • Obtain prospect's last name and postal address by phone number
    • Obtain prospect's full profile given a unique AcquireWebID
Technologies and Tools Used
- Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5, C#, WCF, LINQ, ASP.NET 2.0; Microsoft AJAX, NLB, SOAP
- Microsoft SQL Server 2005; Microsoft SQL Server Integration Services; Microsoft SQL Server Analysis Services; Microsoft SQL Server Business Intelligence Development Studio 2005
- Microsoft Message Queuing (MSMQ); Microsoft's .NET StockTrader 2.0 Configuration Service 2.03
- Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1
- Borland StarTeam 2008; Microsoft Project 2007
"We’ve been working with ESI’s MS platform team for over four years now. During this tenure, we have been consistently pleased with their expertise and professionalism. They have quickly adopted our guidelines and development standards, and have exhibited the highest level of commitment to our needs.  The vast majority of the projects to date have been delivered on time and on budget."
Albert Gadbut
Acquireweb, Inc., President  & CEO