Wednesday, October 1, 2003

More information than you could possibly imagine


By David Gewirtz

Sometimes it pays to look at what an advertiser is doing. As you know, we only accept advertisements from companies whose products we respect. In the long term, it works better for everyone. Great products lead to great returns for the advertisers and great resources for our readers.

While we try to get to know each and every advertiser, we don't always get to see everything they're doing. That's why this month's OutlookPower Site of the Month came as such a pleasant surprise. Melissa Data, a company that gives away ContactZone, a great, free address verification utility for Outlook, also has an amazing "lookups" resource page, as shown in Figure A.


There's lots of useful information you can find on this page. (click for larger image)

To get a gander at it, point your browser to As you can see from the above figure, this site offers free online lookups for some incredibly useful information. For example, you can get the city and phone prefix of an area, if you've got the ZIP code.

If we have any criticism of this site, it's that MelissaData is far too "low key" about what they've got. For example, the Zip-City-Phone information I mentioned above has an incredibly useful hidden feature. It will also tell you the average home sales price in your neighborhood within the last 7 days, using Home Data as a source. If you're looking for a home, or trying to decide where to place your business, this is a great resource.

Interestingly enough, it also helped me understand that I'm (sort of) moving up in the world. Many years ago, I lived on the San Francisco peninsula in a town called Foster City. When I entered 94404 in as the ZIP code, I found out that the average home price was $210,00. Thinking that the Bay Area was bound to be much more expensive than my current home, I was shocked to find out that home prices here in the New Brunswick, New Jersey area (ZIP 08902) were an average of $256,000.

As it gets colder and closer to winter, I have dreams of a warmer climate. I've got some friends down in Fort Myers, Florida, so I was wondering what homes cost down there. Since I didn't know the ZIP code, I first clicked on U.S. Place Names to discover that Fort Myers was in Lee County, Florida. Then I clicked on ZIP Codes by County to find out that Fort Myers has two ZIP codes, 33901 and 33902. Then I went back to the Zip-City-Phone option on the lookup page to find out that the average home price down there is $187,000, nearly a third less than up here. So, if we have a particularly nasty winter, I know I can run South for the winter (at least in my dreams).