We're often asked the question "why would you restrict a user from accessing an advertiser's information on Signsearch?". It's a legitimate question that isn't easily answered with a simple response.
Since March 2000, Signsearch (www.signsearch.com) has been providing extensive sign company data to users seeking a sign company to manufacture, service, install or survey a sign in their local market. We've driven nearly 500 million search results over that time and we're proud of the results we've delivered to our advertisers.
We've also learned a lot about our users. A small percentage of them are coming from within the sign industry with the intention of using the information found on Signsearch to build and support their own internal databases of sign company data. While some of this activity may result in legitimate business opportunities for our advertisers, more often than not the data is being used for solicitation and data mining purposes. The challenge we face is to try and determine who's playing fair, and who isn't. At the end of the day, it's about protecting both the interests of our company and the data that each sign company has entrusted to us. Due to the high level of activity on Signsearch, we've come to realize that it's just not feasible for us to continue to try to monitor and "police" what's going on there.
Our solution was to develop a site designed specifically for frequent users of Signsearch. That site is SignsearchPRO, a sign contractor management solution. You can read more about SignsearchPRO here. PRO is a free service that provides deeper insight into sign companies that are specifically seeking business opportunities with frequent users. PRO is designed to allow companies to build and manage their own network of sign vendors (we call them contractors), and then access their network through a powerful search tool that will significantly save time in procuring bid requests.
Because the data in PRO is so extensive, we require that PRO users communicate with sign companies through specific, legitimate projects. After all, that's why sign companies participate in our services... for the opportunity to bid on specific legitimate projects. They don't entrust us with their data so that it can be used for any other purpose.
It's important to note that our site usage doesn't impact 98% of users on Signsearch as our algorithms do not affect infrequent users, the core audience for Signsearch. We define a frequent user as a company that is accessing more than 300 sign company profiles in a year. That's a lot of sign company profiles, but only about 2% of Signsearch users ever get anywhere near that number.
It's also important to note that, in effect, we don't suspend any legitimate user, frequent or infrequent, from our services. We simply ask that they use the correct service that we've built specifically for them... be that Signsearch or SignsearchPRO.