DMA Confirms Isaacson Leaving AIM

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Ben Isaacson, executive director of the DMA's Association for Interactive Marketing, is resigning effective Sept. 13, the DMA said yesterday.


Isaacson announced his resignation on a conference call with AIM advisory board members. He reportedly has agreed to work with AIM as a consultant until the Direct Marketing Association finds a replacement. Also, he reportedly will perform his normal duties overseeing some sessions and events at the DMA's 85th Annual Conference & Exhibition, which takes place Oct. 20-23 at Moscone Center in San Francisco.


"We're setting up a contractual agreement to buy some of his time and use him in the transitional phase," said Michael Faulkner, the DMA's senior vice president, segments and affiliates.


Isaacson, who is 28, conceded that becoming a consultant before the economy has recovered is risky.


"I feel comfortable in the experiences that I've had, the relationships that I've established and the knowledge I've gained to be able to move on and take the next step in my career," he said.


The DMA has quietly sought a replacement for him for several weeks. There are no plans to promote any of AIM's five employees to the position, Faulkner said, adding that he will oversee daily operations until a replacement is found.


"We're looking for somebody with similar skills and experience [to Isaacson]," he said. "They don't have to be a techie, but they have to know the workings and the issues of the Internet. They're going to need to know the public policy issues ... and the people. They have to have a good, grounded history in both marketing and the Internet to understand where it's been and where it's going in relation to CRM and multichannel marketing ... and somebody, obviously, that knows e-mail pretty well."


Faulkner estimated that AIM has 375 member companies. It had about 500 when the DMA acquired it in October 1998. The dot-com economy's implosion has since taken its toll.


According to sources close to AIM, Isaacson's decision had nothing to do with the viability of AIM or any internal issues with the DMA. Isaacson has indicated he wants to consult full time. The DMA reportedly has no plans to absorb AIM.


Isaacson was named executive director of AIM in November 1999 after six months of serving as acting executive director.


Under his stewardship, AIM's Council for Responsible E-mail established "Six Resolutions for Responsible E-Mailers" in an effort to promote industry self-regulation. The council also established e-mail merge/purge guidelines and, most recently, so-called best practices for e-mail append services.


Also during his stint, AIM's Addressable Media Coalition created privacy guidelines for interactive television. According to a statement from the DMA, Isaacson led the acquisition of the Addressable Advertising Coalition in 1999 and relaunched it as the Addressable Media Coalition.


Isaacson in January oversaw AIM's name change from the Association for Interactive Media to the Association for Interactive Marketing.


"I think the shift in focus from interactive media to interactive marketing, changing the mission ... of the organization to be more focused on the marketing and e-commerce piece of the Internet as opposed to the media, was big," Faulkner said.


AIM was founded in 1993 as the Interactive Television Association. AIM hired Isaacson as an intern in summer 1996 after he graduated from the University of Kansas. He was given a marketing job at AIM at the end of that summer.


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