Monday, April 9, 2018

An open letter to Ancestry

Thank you for bringing so many new people to DNA testing. The larger the database the better, of course.

BUT, you have fallen far behind in serving your customer base! Virtually every other company now offers features that allow us to make full use of our DNA to break down brick walls and otherwise enhance our family trees in ways we could not have imagined just a few years, even months, ago. Your company future depends on whether you want to provide cocktail party fodder or make meaningful contributions to human society.

For years we have asked for chromosome mapping and segment analysis; now we want more, starting with full triangulation as provided by 23andMe, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and, of course, Gedmatch. Many of us who have pioneered in genetic genealogy no longer recommend Ancestry for DNA testing and groan when we hear that someone has ordered a test from you.  We know we must now deal with your marketing hype that forces us to moderate their expectations, then persuade these friends, associates and relatives to transfer their results to other companies in order to make full use of them.

You could do so much more! You are in a perfect position to become the kind of leader that not only makes DNA testing an essential part of genealogy but encourages your testing base to expand their interest in family history. Think of the potential revenue from those who test to learn only their ethnicity but are persuaded to go on to study genealogy. Your membership could grow exponentially... But most of your customers do not have the time or inclination to download and upload files, study and apply advanced spreadsheet techniques, understand the process of genetics, and engage in analytics. It is your job to make genetics-based matching an automatic and integral part of genealogy.

I look forward to seeing a renewed commitment by Ancestry to put customer needs first.

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