Pros and Cons of the Fuzzy Address Matching Algorithm

January 17, 2023
Fuzzy address matching helps identify errors like misspellings. Better match rates provide more usable data and minimizes time spent on manual validation.

Typos, typoes or typo's?

No matter how you spell the word, typos are a problem. Even the most accurate typist occasionally misspells a word, leaves off a letter at the end, or just types a different word than intended.

Typos in a text to your friend aren't a big deal. They'll figure out what you mean using context clues. But in a business data scenario, if you're following the logic of traditional address matching, where an address is either an exact match or not a match, you can't account for different formats or misspellings.

Exact address matching methods won't catch common mistakes like:

  • Spelling Mistakes
  • Incorrect Type (Street vs. Road)
  • Abbreviations
  • Synonyms: Floor vs. Level -Unit, Flat, or Apartment
  • Swapped Letters
  • Sounds Like
  • Out-of-Correct-Order

However, fuzzy logic address matching excels at handling common address mistakes.

Fuzzy Matching (also known as Approximate String Matching) is a technique that helps identify two elements of text, strings, or entries that are approximately similar but not 100% the same.

Traditional address matching logic is binary. An address either matches exactly, or it doesn't.

Fuzzy logic indicates the degree to which a statement is true, and can help identify errors like the list above. However, there are nuances to fuzzy matching. Being "too fuzzy" creates matches for addresses that deserve to fail, resulting in false positives.

To avoid this, you can choose your tolerance level, or what degree of similarity you'll accept, from the fuzzy matching algorithm. For example, a provider can set a threshold of 0.8 and then test and adjust as needed. The goal is to ensure that minimal false positives get through, while still returning results and allowing for misspellings, errors, and varying formats.

Here at Smarty, we have a multi-stage process that attempts to find a match using a reliable matching engine. If it doesn't find a match, that address is next run through more aggressive matching processes. By only running failed addresses through additional stages, match rates increase with minimal risk of matching addresses that deserve to fail.

Download the 4 Steps to Unlocking Latent Revenue and Driving ROI with Your Address Data ebook

Pros of Fuzzy Address Matching

Fuzzy logic offers several advantages compared to traditional address matching. Let's look at a few of them.

1. Determining the Likelihood of a Full Match

Fuzzy matching predicts the likelihood of a full match. Depending on how high the probability of a match is, you can decide to consider those two addresses a match or adjust your tolerance settings. Your match probability scores are also a good indicator of your data quality.

2. Handling Misspellings, Formatting Errors, and Phonetic Variations

People often spell addresses based on how the street name sounds. Traditional address matching won't catch that Fontainebleau Drive is the same street as Fountainblue Drive or Fontinblow Drive. Fuzzy logic is much better at handling misspellings and minor differences because it looks at how many characters are different.

Without the ability to easily pair up the same address, written in two different ways, it's harder to deduplicate address data and merge your records.

3. Distinguishing Unique Address Information

You can program your exact matches to accept some small, common variances in standard formatting (i.e., street vs. st, road vs. Rd, etc.). However, that won't help with non-standard address information or street names. You can't sit there and program in ten different spellings of Fontainebleau! Fuzzy logic allows you to set rules for address standardization, correcting address information like street names to match with greater accuracy.

Cons of Fuzzy Address Matching

Nobody's perfect, and neither are fuzzy matching algorithms. Depending on your tolerance level, you might not catch the craziest misspellings or wacky formatting errors. However, fuzzy address matching addresses many weaknesses demonstrated by traditional address matching.

Powered by fuzzy address matching, better match rates can increase your revenue by providing more usable address data and minimizing time spent on manual validation.

Want to know more about how accurate address data can help your business? Download our free ebook, 4 Steps to Unlocking Latent Revenue and Driving ROI with Your Address Data.

Download the free ebook today Download the 4 Steps to Unlocking Latent Revenue and Driving ROI with Your Address Data ebook

Subscribe to our blog!
Learn more about RSS feeds here.
rss feed iconSubscribe Now
Read our recent posts
Smarty Named as Data Intelligence Leader Across Address Verification and E-Commerce Categories
Arrow Icon
PROVO, Utah--Smarty, a leader in address data intelligence, today announced that it has been named an industry leader, receiving 22 awards and top honors across address verification and e-commerce tools categories in G2's Spring Report. Awards and rankings originate from customer feedback and reviews, highlighting the best software products for businesses. Smarty ranked first amongst over 50 address verification services, honored with recognition in the following areas: - Leader - Easiest To Use - Most Implementable - Easiest Admin - Best Results - Best Relationship - Best Usability - Highest User Adoption - Best Meets Requirements - Momentum Leader G2's address verification category awards are based on customer feedback and verified reviews from nearly 1,000 customers.
Go Mr. Clean on Your Databases and Reduce Risk—All With Address Verification
Arrow Icon
Your business generates data with every digital ad you run, every purchase order, every promotional mailing, and every customer survey you do. And every time one campaign wraps up, another starts. Developing a solid database cleansing and consolidation strategy can help prevent a database full of holes and information gaps. Why does database cleansing matter? Your revenue will diminish if you rely on bad data to make strategic business decisions. In our ebook, 5 Ways Companies Use Address Verification to Improve Business Results, we discuss how to use address verification software to cleanse databases and merge datasets.
Welcome to the Twilight Zone of Address Data
Arrow Icon
Picture this. You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone! Can you hear the 🎵 dee dee dee doo dee dee dee doo 🎵? That is the familiar introduction to a show that would boggle our minds and twist reality as we know it. Today, apparently, is Twilight Zone Day. Celebrate how you will. Another thing that boggles our minds and seems to twist reality as we know it is when addresses change or when they go by an alias, or when you ship something to someone's house at the exact address they told you, and it still gets returned for some reason.

The leader in location data intelligence

Ready to get started?