The business classification experts
The business classification experts

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Context4 Codes

The Need to Identify Business Activity


There are approximately 3 million trading businesses in the UK. By adding those incorporated businesses that legally exist but don't trade in the day to day sense of the word, then that total increases to approximately 5.4 million businesses. Inclusion of all the records for businesses that have ceased to trade brings the UK business universe well over 10 million.


The ability to classify and profile such a mass of data is imperative for anyone seeking to use such information for marketing, analysis, directory publishing or other such applications.


Prospect businesses will react better to direct marketing and lead generation activity that is highly targeted to their specific needs. Any data user who is responsible for such targeting will also manage their costs more efficiently by narrowing down their target group. Clearly this has the added benefit of creating a professional impression of that data user. The combination of such factors has led to the increasingly important trend in recent years of very precise targeting.


Any exercise in profiling and targeting businesses very quickly leads to consideration of their activities. The activity of any business organisation will dictate:

  • The products and materials that it needs to source
  • The premises and location that it needs to occupy
  • The people it needs to employ
  • The channels that it will use to market itself
  • The prospects that it will target

So understanding the line of business of relevant organisations is the key factor for Direct Marketers, Publishers, Analysts, Sales Professionals and a host of other business data users.


The Challenge of Targeting and Profiling Businesses using Traditional Methodology


The starting point for finding and assessing an organisation quickly and accurately whether for marketing, risk or acquisition purposes is its business classification. Typically marketing and other professionals rely on the Standard Industrial Classication (SIC) system along with one or more business demographics such as sales turnover, number of employees or location.

However using SIC codes often creates challenges.

  • The multiplicity of versions (US 1972, US 1992, UK 2003, UK 2007...) often leads to confusion, and creates difficulty in mapping between various databases.
  • The complexity of the SIC systems means that they are not very user friendly and may be difficult to interpret for those who are not expert in industrial taxonomies.
  • SIC codings are typically strong in describing traditional industrial activities, however they may lack sufficient detail when classifying consumer facing businesses.

This leads to SIC codings that are often incorrect and inconsistent across (and within) data sources.  They often lack sufficient detail and ignore other key contextual factors such as legal status and the role of geography.

Use of alternative Classified Business Directory codes, which have the advantage of being easier to use, is generally prohibited to users unless they are licencees of the associated data.

Context4 Codes

The Context4 Classification system and codes have been developed to address these issues. Adding proprietory Context 4 codes to a business database has led to media owners and leading B2B brands being able to utilise a more consumer facing and granular classification system to SIC codes. 

Context4 codes therefore put data into Context4 a wide variety of business applications.


Since 1985 Context4 classification experts have been developing proprietory business classification systems and services to help business data owners and leading B2B brands improve the quality of their business records and search capabilities.

Context4 Limited was formed in 2001 to continue to meet the need for better quality business data and to develop innovative data products all aimed at helping improved business decision making.


Since Day One Context 4 codes have been assigned to business records using a variety of direct research together with intelligent processes to cross check and add to that research. So Context 4 codes not only benefit from the data collected from sources such as Companies House, Web Sites and the businesses themselves, they also benefit from sophisticated programmes which analyse information from the business names themselves. Additionally, further logic is applied that reviews information about the dominant business activities within particular postcode districts. Finally, results are compared and refined by comparing them with those of a leading business database publisher.

The combination of all this direct and indirect research produces a coding system that is unparalled in its coverage, quality and detail.

Sample Applications

The list of current and historical users of Context4 Codes reads like a Who's Who of the UK data industry, and includes:

  • Ask Alix
  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Enable Media
  • Infoserve
  • MI International
  • Newgrove
  • Northcliffe Media
  • Red Volcano
  • Royal Mail
  • Scoot
  • TDS
  • The Read Group (TRG)



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