ERA Show Expands into Online Marketing

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LAS VEGAS - The Electronic Retailing Association boasted a record attendance of 3,000 people to its annual conference and exhibition here this week. That number is 30 percent higher than last year's attendance number.

The association expanded its audience from a core constituency of infomercial and DRTV marketers to include Internet marketers. Representatives from America Online, Excite@home, Microsoft and WorldGate Communications appeared in panel discussions to discuss a variety of issues facing online retailers.

The most prominent concern for online retailers is making online shopping more convenient for consumers. Wendy Brown, vice president of interactive marketing at AOL, said she has observed that about two-thirds of online transactions are abandoned for one reason or another, including difficulty of usage and consumer mistrust of online security methods.

"Studies have shown the No. 1 reason for going online is convenience," she said. "It's important to recognize that technology changes quickly, but the consumer doesn't."

ERA President Lisa Myers said a major concern for the association is to build consumer confidence in buying products through electronic media, including TV, radio and the Internet. The association's guidelines for electronic marketing were adopted by America Online for its online merchants, she said.

As part of its efforts to instill consumer confidence, it also launched a Web site Oct. 15 called that is intended to educate consumers on electronic retailing.

Meanwhile, ERA said it had formed a new Middle East council to address issues that face marketers in Middle East countries. B.J. Fazeli, president of TV Media, a DRTV marketer in Los Angeles, was named director of the council, which has includes television and marketing executives from 14 countries.

ERA's board of directors re-elected Earl Greenberg, a principal in Transactional Marketing Consultants, Los Angeles, as its chairman for the third year in a row. Greenberg said ERA was seeking to expand its membership through an "acquisition binge" of other trade associations.

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