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DMA poised to shift focus to interactive

The Direct Marketing Association is considering repositioning its entire organization around interactive marketing, including a name change, industry sources told DMNews. This reflects increasing industry focus on digital marketing. Some industry sources said the pivot is critical to the group’s survival.

“They’re trying to position the whole organization as interactive,” said one well-placed industry source privy to internal discussions. That person added, “They really need to if they plan to survive.”

Sue Geramian, SVP and chief communications officer at the DMA, said that the group “will continue to see the transition from non-direct brand marketing to measurable direct marketing speed up, and more dollars shift from traditional direct mail and teleservices channels into the rapidly growing digital channels of e-mail, search, mobile and social media marketing.”

“With that in mind, conversation in this arena revolves around making sure the DMA brand reflects the realities of direct marketing,” she said via e-mail. “There are no immediate plans for a name change.”

The trade group plans to discuss possible courses of action at its board meeting in October during the DMA09 Conference & Exhibition in San Diego, one list industry source indicated. The conversation began eight or nine months ago, the person said.

“The Email Experience Council Conference does well, and their social media and wireless events are doing well,” the person added, saying that the DMA wants to better compete with well-attended shows such as Ad:tech.

The DMA has more than a decade-long history of attempting to include digital direct response in its range of services and educational programs, running through several iterations of digital initiatives in the process.

In 1998 it acquired the Association of Interactive Media, which was renamed the Association of Interactive Marketing (AIM) in 1998; in 1999 it acquired the Internet Alliance. In 2005, DMA dissolved AIM, absorbing it into the parent organization and instead created an internal Interactive Marketing Advisory Board (IMAB).

In July 2007, DMA acquired the year-old Email Experience Council, which it merged at the time with its Email Marketing Council. That group within the DMA was formerly known as the Council for Responsible Email. As part of DMA’s agreement to acquire the EEC, the memberships of EEC and DMA’s Email Marketing Council merged under the EEC name.

The impending possible name change was perhaps foreshadowed on June 16 when DMA announced the formation of the iDirect Leadership Committee, described at the time in an announcement as “a strategic reinforcement of DMA’s broad commitment to developing the power of multichannel direct marketing for advertisers and consumers in the digital age.”

The DMA said the focus of the iDirect leadership committee is to provide thought leadership around a digital approach to marketing strategies, and to help pool the best thinking and experience in direct and digital marketing within DMA’s membership. The committee, it said, will drive new educational programs, conduct and publish research, and connect DMA members with public policy advocacy issues which increasingly impact digital marketing.

The committee is comprised of 23 marketers, agency executives and industry analysts, including David Barnes, Vice President, Best Buy for Business; Bruce Biegel, Senior Managing Director, Winterberry Group; Jill Cowen, Vice President, Citi Cards e-Business Group; Lisa Fischer, Managing Vice President, Marketing Strategy, Capital One; Gabe Greenberg, Senior Vice President, Global Strategic Relations, Vibrant Media; and Matt O’Grady, President, Nielsen Claritas.

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