ProQuo launches catalog opt-out service

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ProQuo, a direct mail preference service, has launched a free service enabling consumers to choose the catalogs they want to receive.

“Our goal is to make marketing better for consumers and marketers,” said Steven Gal, chairman and CEO of ProQuo, which is based in La Jolla, CA. Most consumers do want to receive some marketing, but they're frustrated because they get a bunch of stuff they don't want, he added.

Right now, ProQuo's new catalog service only includes 21 of the more popular US catalogs, such as Victoria's Secret, J. Crew, L.L. Bean and Harry & David. According to the company, more catalogs will continue to be added to the service.

In addition to catalogs, ProQuo also assists consumers with opting out of coupons, weekly circulars, marketing lists and data brokers, as well as other directories. The free service first launched in October of 2007. “We don't believe ProQuo will create less marketing — it will simply get the right marketing to the consumers who want it,” Gal said.

Unlike other sites, ProQuo generates revenues by charging marketers for lists of people who do want to receive certain types of direct mail, Gal said. Consumers are asked for their consent before their personal information is shared, he said.

For consumers looking to opt out of different forms of direct mail, the amount of options appears to be growing. In addition to ProQuo, there is DMAChoice, a free direct mail opt out service run by the Direct Marketing Association. Other sites such as GreenDimes, 41pounds and CatalogEnd also provide opt-out services, but for a price.

One site that has received a lot of media attention, including a spot on the Today Show last month, is Catalog Choice. The service allows consumers to opt out of receiving more than 1,000 different catalogs for free, according to April Smith, Catalog Choice project manager.

The site was spearheaded by the National Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the Ecology Center of Berkeley. It is funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund and the Kendeda Fund.

Since launching in October of 2007, about 595,000 people have signed up on Catalog Choice, Smith said. “We're adding about 5,000 to 7,000 new users a day,” she said. So far, people have opted out of receiving about 7.5 million catalogs, she added.

Within the next few weeks, Catalog Choice plans to roll out several new features, including one that will allow consumers to reduce the frequency in which they receive certain catalogs, Smith said. Another feature will ask consumers who decide to opt out of a particular catalog if they want to enter an e-mail/electronic relationship with that mailer.

“Our goal is to help the catalog mailing industry to improve their environmental practices, and honoring customer mail preferences is the important first step,” Smith said.

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