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Cautious optimism at DMA08

The Direct Marketing Association’s annual conference took place last week in Las Vegas, with a general tenor of cau­tious optimism on the show floor and in conference speaker rooms.

While the DMA declined to share exact attendance figures, it had expected 550 companies to exhibit. Sue Geramian, SVP of communications for the DMA, called the turnout “extraordinarily healthy.”

“The DM community recognizes that it is more important than ever to make connec­tions and recognize the ROI that this kind of marketing can get you,” she explained, in a nod to the current economic woes.

“Obviously everyone’s view for the future is optimistic, and everyone is staying positive despite the slight down­turn,” said Anthony Carraturo, director of sales for United Business Media at Merit Direct. He added that his company was hoping “to stay ahead of the curve.”

In his keynote, Clarity in a World of Confusion, G2 Worldwide executive Larry Kimmel advised a crowd of mar­keters that this was the time to analyze their use of media across channels, and use results – not buzz or perception – to drive spend allocation.

A session held by Kurt Medina, presi­dent of Medina Associates, was packed with marketers trying to figure out how to reach consumers over age 50. Medina broke these consumers into three groups and urged marketers to segment their offerings based on those groups. Other news included an update to DMAChoice, the DMA’s mail preference service, which now offers individuals the opportunity to opt out by channel or company. The main drive behind the revamp was to educate consum­ers and provide them with mail choice.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark also advocated putting customers first in his key­note speech. “Talking to people like they’re people is always a good idea,” he said.

On the awards front, the Direct Market­ing Educational Foundation honored Jon Roska, founder, CEO and CCO of Roska Direct Advertising, with the Edward N.

Mayer Jr. Education Leadership Award and Scholastic with the Corporate Lead­ership Award at its dinner and auction, which raised nearly $400,000.

And, at the Echo award show, the Diamond Echo went to Spanish agency Shackleton’s “The Niger luxury club” campaign for Action Against Hunger. The Web site creative drove visitors to donate to the charity.

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