Marketers look forward after a difficult 2009

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As we put this final issue issue of DMNews to bed and close out another year covering the direct marketing front, it is a natural time for reflection. However, it is a fleeting pause for so many people.

The consensus from most of the conversations I've had lately with direct marketers seems to be that it is far better to look ahead than dwell on 2009. For so many of us, the last year has been the most challenging in decades. Many marketers made tough choices this year in order to weather bad tidings, cutting direct mail volumes significantly and ramping back spending in most other areas of the marketing mix.

As we move headlong into the new year, however, the market appears to be stabilizing. The ad industry's leading prognosticators — Magna Global, ZenithOptimedia and GroupM — weighed in last week with their annual ad spending predictions for the year to come and beyond (see cover story). Small growth, but growth nonetheless, is on the horizon in terms of advertising. And, not surprisingly, online spending continues to grow much more healthily than its offline counterparts.

There's no margin of error in this kind of economy. The tracking and measurement capabilities afforded online and particularly in search advertising are most attractive to marketers. These marketing executives are squeezed to prove what works and what doesn't and adjust campaigns on the fly.

This issue of DMNews is dedicated to search marketing. It is one of a handful of themed issues rolled out this year. Look for the familiar magnifying glass icon atop stories that take a close look at search strategies and tactics.

Adam Smith, GroupM's futures director, clearly recognizes the power of direct marketing in his comments to DMNews: "Just like in the old days, direct marketing used to be the safe haven [in an economic downturn] because it provides quick, measurable results. Online has assumed that safe haven role now," Smith said.

Celebrating 30 years covering DM

DMNews turned 30 last month, and the magazine celebrated with a mega-special issue reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future of direct and digital marketing. The entire DMNews staff worked tirelessly to create a product that would live up to direct marketing's rich heritage and path of innovation over the last three decades.

We feel we succeeded, and most of the reader feedback the magazine has received to date supports that. Read Letters From Our Readers to see a small sampling of what direct marketers are saying about the magazine.

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