Traffic Picks Up at British DM Show

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LONDON -- Traffic at the annual British DM show picked up noticeably yesterday afternoon with the aisles of the main show clogged with visitors. Opening day on Tuesday had been slow, although exhibitors said the quality of attendees was high.

"Exhibitors said there weren't too many tire kickers so far this year," said Jenny Moseley, chairwoman of the British DMA. "People who come in are of good quality, interested in direct marketing and not willing to waste time. These are people who have a reason for coming."

Still, preliminary figures put out by Reed Exhibition Co., which organizes the annual event, showed that more than 6,000 people had visited the ExCel site by midday yesterday, the halfway point of the show.

"It looks like we'll have 12,000 attendees at this point," a Reed spokeswoman said. That would be less than the 14,000 who came to the show at the Wembley center last year, but given the new venue and the much longer commute from central London, it would still be a respectable showing, she said.

Matters were not helped yesterday morning when the Jubilee train line that comes closest to the show shut down for several hours and resumed service with considerable delay. Ninety-minute commutes were common.

Most of the traffic focused on the parent show, the International Direct Marketing Fair, which has been in business for 25 years. New Media Marketing also drew people, and most of its 60 booths were crowded yesterday.

The two new shows, TelecommercExpo and Marketing IT, benefited from crossover visitors from other shows, with 2,300 coming to the former and 1,700 to the latter.

Traditional direct marketing vendors, including lettershops, printers and envelope companies, seemed much more in evidence than in years past, perhaps because stands were grouped more tightly according to business sector.

Growth of direct mail in the UK has slowed recently because of the dot-com rush but is clearly seeing a revival, with more attention paid to classical DM methodology than during last year's show.

No figures were available yet for attendance at the conference program, which focused on marketing in the digital age and on such hot-button issues as data protection, e-commerce and customer relationship management in the wired world.

The UK's information commissioner, Elisabeth France, and professors at two British business schools delivered keynote addresses.

France, who is in charge of implementing the new British data protection law, spoke bluntly to mailers, warning of statutory penalties if the industry cannot deliver on consumer requests to stop unwanted mailing.

"It's all a matter of making sure consumers have a right to object to direct marketing," she said. "You will be at risk as a marketer if you mail somebody who thinks their details have been suppressed. ... The industry has to prove that it can respond to consumer requests, and I don't mind how it does it."


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