*DM Industry Escapes 60 Minutes Spotlight

The direct marketing industry was not lambasted Sunday night by CBS’s “60 Minutes” as some business leaders had feared. Veteran correspondent Leslie Stahl took up the specific issue of online data collection and profiling — focusing most of her attention on how Internet marketers such as DoubleClick, New York, use cookies and other Web browser-based technology to target consumers with advertising.

At the Direct Marketing Association in New York, Stephen Altobelli, director of communications, said there was little reaction among officials overall at the DMA regarding the broadcast.

“I wasn’t surprised at what they aired” said Altobelli. “And I was not surprised that we weren’t mentioned because the people at “60 Minutes” had indicated earlier that they were not interested in interviewing [our chairman] Bob Wientzen.”

According to Altobelli, a representative from “60 Minutes'” editorial staff told leaders at the DMA last month that they were only working on a story about the latest in online data collection techniques and no more.

But many direct marketing industry leaders were uneasy early last month when a 60 Minutes camera crew showed up at the DMA’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Toronto. And a guidelines statement issued to members by the DMA on how best to respond to the media regarding industry questions helped set several exhibitors on edge. There was also a teaser banner ad on the CBS News’ Web site early last week quoting outspoken Internet privacy advocate Jason Catlett of Junkbusters, Green Brook, NJ, which had raised the specter among some that the industry might not be characterized fairly by the traditionally aggressive news team.

“I think they were basically at the DMA show [in Toronto] to learn about the industry” said Altobelli.

The segment, which aired nationwide on Sunday evening, touched lightly on the heated issue of privacy and included an interview with Lori Fena, spokeswoman with Internet seal program TRUSTe, Cupertino, CA.

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