The "Fast Lane" Answer
If you're looking for address validation, a quick Google search brings up a couple noteworthy names. But just because Google suggests them doesn't mean that the provider will fit your needs. After all, Google doesn't know everything. The issue is not finding a provider, but finding the one you want. We pulled together a couple of the key players and jotted down each of their strengths; that way, as you begin your search, you have a better idea of what you might be looking for.
These four companies are some of the biggest names in the industry:
- The United States Postal Service (USPS)
- Melissa Data
We believe at least one of them is bound to fit your needs. Below we discuss the reasons why.
The "Scenic Route" Answer
Where It All Starts
US address information starts with the United States Postal Service (USPS). When it comes to collecting and compiling the address of every mailable location in the United States, no one else has as many boots on the ground as they do. The USPS is the aggregator of US address information; that means they compile the data and maintain the database themselves. It is this database that's referenced each time a US address is validated—so, ultimately, it's the USPS that determines if an address is valid or not.
They even have an address validation API right on their website, where you can plug in the address you're curious about, and get a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down on it. Keep in mind, however, that it is compilation and maintenance of their database they are concerned with, not the distribution of the data therein. This is why they sell access to their data to commercial address validation providers, who then make the information easier to interface with.
The Well Read Executive
Melissa Data is the "Sherlock Holmes" of address validators. They can look at an address and provide you with extensive details related to it—often details that other validators don't provide. They're famous for augmenting the data that the USPS offers; in their eyes, if you're checking an address, why not know everything? The wealth of information they offer on addresses is their badge of honor.
Melissa Data checks names and emails of individuals living at an address. They check census information, weather and climate data, and NCOA—or "move update"—for people whose addresses may have changed. They even do international addresses. In essence, you hand them an address, and they hand you back an encyclopedia.
Accuracy in address validation is an important thing. But for Loqate, accuracy is the one thing to rule them all. With US addresses they're as accurate as the USPS, which is impressive. What's most impressive is their international data—they achieve nearly the same level of accuracy with almost all of the countries they support. They drop the pin on the map as close as each mail delivery system will allow, complex foreign postal codes and all. And they do the same thing with their geocodes; they offer rooftop-level accuracy for a lot of the countries of the world (which is useful for Santa Claus when he's making deliveries).
They also have a really cool feature where they parse the input data given to them by customers. "Parsing" is just a fancy way of saying, "Label everything first, and then process it." That way, the computer knows which part of the submitted address is the street, or the city, or the house number, and so on. If an address fails to validate, they can tell you exactly what part of that address doesn't match with their database. And with a database that covers something in the neighborhood of 200 countries, it gives them plenty of room to prove just how reliable their validation and geocoding can be.
The Friendly Speedster
SmartyStreets is known for our super-speed. With the fastest turnaround time in the industry, SmartyStreets can easily process hundreds of thousands of addresses per second—even millions per second if the job requires it. That means that even large batches of addresses come back faster than a speeding bullet. And with an API that boasts near-100% uptime, all you have to do is switch on the bat-signal, and we're ready to go. We also offer a self-hosted, on-site, on-premise, local solution with speeds so fast, it's measured on the Planck scale.
SmartyStreets takes the data from providers like the USPS or Loqate and makes it more user-friendly. With an API that's super fast and amazingly simple, technical documentation that's comprehensive and easy to understand, and phones lines that go directly to real-life
caped crusaders customer support, you can expect heroic levels of service from us.
How to Pick a Provider
Picking an address validator is a little like buying a car. Some people only need a smaller, fuel-efficient commuter car that gets them from point A to B. Some people are looking for a huge SUV for its seating capacity and off-road capabilities. Some people want a luxury car with all the latest gadgets. And some people want a car fast enough to win the Daytona 500. It's all a matter of what you want to drive.
Let this list be a starting point and a guide in your search for a company that suits your needs. Try us all out, then pick the set of wheels that's right for you. And if you're not sure who to pick, call us. We're happy to point you in the right direction, even if you don't end up using us. We just want you to feel comfortable in the driver's seat.