24/7 Mail to Push E-Mail Campaign Into Heavily Regulated EU

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NEW YORK - 24/7 Mail plans to launch an e-mail marketing service in Europe later this month, starting in the UK and moving into more difficult countries as the year wears on.

"The UK is very similar to how we do things in the US while Germany is not, so to start with we will be looking at countries that offer the least resistance to e-mail marketing," said Michael Rowsom, GM of 24/7 Mail.

In general, EU regulations about targeted e-mail tend to be stiffer than those in the US even when customer agreement to receiving e-mail advertising exists, and they tend to vary from country to country.

The UK, Rowsom said, was "DMA compliant," meaning that marketers must tell prospects what information they are collecting, to what use it is being put, and they must offer potential customers the opportunity to opt out.

He is putting together a list of other DMA compliant countries in Europe and plans to move into those first who have "lower lying fruit" like the UK, markets that offer the least resistance to start with.

24/7 Media has an extensive European operation which will allow the e-mail division to work directly with the European sales force and offer advertisers and publishers permission-based e-mail campaigns.

Rowsom also plans to tap into the Web sites that are part of the 24/7 Europe network to get more names willing to receive e-mail advertising.

"We're talking to different sites that have opt-in data and we're hiring international sales people in the US to represent US firms that want to sell overseas." He posits growth on what he calls Europe's direct-response tradition.

What he means is the long history of the mail order business in countries such as the UK, France and especially Germany, where orders tend to be higher than in the US.

He claims customer interest in the US was one spark in the decision to move to Europe. Americans want to launch global direct response campaigns, he said, but many have held back because of high cost.

"One thing e-mail does," he said, "is reduce the cost of distributing marketing messages to end users." Nor is its effectiveness limited by Europe's still high telecom charges.

"The great advantage of e-mail advertising is that you can do it offline. When people turn on their computers they find the message. All we do, really, is provide the mechanism. We don't get involved in copy.

Some of his company's clients already have European opt-in lists and need only do "due diligence to check files and monitor registration forms to make sure that they are collecting names in appropriate fashion."

He is looking at the "low millions" for the first quarter following the start up. Rowsom thinks that even Germany, the richest and most restrictive European market, "is not undoable. It is a direct response community and comfortable culturally with using direct response.

"The regulations they have can be overcome. It is just a matter of setting up the processes and procedures. My read of these countries is that most are DMA compliant. n

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