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Companies Forming Net DM Association

About 40 representatives of companies doing direct marketing on the Internet have been working to form an Internet Direct Marketing Association (IDMA) to bridge what they see as a gap in research and services.

“The IAB [Internet Advertising Bureau] does a really good job of dealing with the issues of branding on the Internet and issues of buying and selling advertising on the Internet,” said Paul Grand, CEO of online marketing services company Word Of Net, Los Angeles, and founding member of the IDMA. “We're filling in the rest of the marketing equation.”

The group intends to put direct marketing-oriented research high on its list of priorities, Grand said.

“Right now, you can't go out and get a study from Forrester or Jupiter about the value of direct marketing on the Internet,” he said. “All the studies that are out there deal with advertising on the Internet, and that's where they end. We'll be looking at everything from opt-in e-mail to sweepstakes and promotions to profiling and collaborative filtering technologies.”

Grand said the group doesn't necessarily see the Direct Marketing Association's efforts as falling short.

“This is more an organization of people who are involved in [the Internet] entirely on a daily basis and who have a vested interest in seeing direct marketing on the Internet succeed,” Grand said.

The IDMA also intends to launch public education efforts, according to Grand.

“All the press about direct marketing on the Internet is negative,” he said. “Yet all the things that people are talking about as wonderful features of the Internet — like profiling and collaborative filtering and one-to-one marketing — are really all direct marketing. We're going to be putting a positive spin on the phrase.”

The group has no official launch date but plans to launch sometime in November. The IDMA's next meeting is planned for the Fall Internet World trade show, which is held Oct. 5-9 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York. Grand said the IDMA encourages contact from other companies.

Companies involved in the effort include Compaq, WebPromote, Experian, Metromail, Flycast, Engage Technologies, Universal Studios and I/Pro.

The IDMA has a Web site at www.idma.org that was password protected at press time. Grand said it should be open to the public within the next two weeks.

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