DMI Debuts New Service, Restructures

Acxiom/Direct Media is accepting contributors to an e-mail address appending service called E-Base which it expects to roll out in the next two to four months. The new service is part of a restructuring of the list firm's interactive division that involves an increased role for Bigfoot, the Internet directory firm in which Acxiom, Conway, AR, holds a one-third interest.

Bigfoot, New York, which handles e-mail fulfillment for Direct Media, Greenwich, CT, will assume the e-mail campaign management and marketing now overseen at DMI by Regina Brady. Brady's division will continue to develop E-Base and have some input in ECM. The domestic and international sections of the online catalog request site CatalogLink will become part of DMI's SmartBase cooperative catalog database.

“We're putting pieces [of the interactive division] where they should be,” said DMI's CEO Steve Brighton. The restructuring will not require any job cuts.

E-Base will function similar to a telephone number appending service. Data providers will contribute files that contain both a consumer's mailing address and opt-in e-mail address. When the e-mail repository reaches critical mass, clients will be able to submit a customer file and have the e-mail addresses appended to matches. Contributors will be paid a percentage of the matches and receive discounted rates to have their own files appended.

E-Base will be marketed through DMI, Acxiom InfoBase and a sales force now being assembled at Bigfoot, according to DMI chairman Dave Florence. Florence said Direct Media will continue to sell e-mail services to direct marketing clients while Bigfoot will gear its overall sales efforts to larger corporations outside the DM arena. Bigfoot general manager of ECM, Michael Darviche, confirmed that his firm now can service both client bases.

In July 1997, Acxiom made a one-third investment in Bigfoot which consisted of an initial $4 million investment and an additional $4 million in June 1998. Two Acxiom executives sit on the Bigfoot board, and the decision to increase its ECM role was reached at a board meeting earlier this month.

“Acxiom is very interested in getting a return on their investment,” Brady said. “It's important to them that there was this clear focus and the best way of giving them the focus and freedom to develop this was to turn over all those [ECM] responsibilities to them [Bigfoot].”

With the e-mail business changing and growing so much, Darviche said it made sense for ECM to be handled where it and other e-mail solutions were created, at Bigfoot. He added that Brady will be a tremendous point of contact going forward.

ECM is growing in importance to DMI clients and that is reflected in the allocation of resources for 1999 budgets, Brady said. Direct marketing companies that did not set aside enough money even to test e-mail this past year will now be involved in full-scale e-mail marketing.

“While we don't have a huge and robust amount of lists to use, there is a lot more to pick and choose from,'' she said. “Rather than focus on the entire [ECM] world at large we'll be focusing in on the needs of DMI clients. We want to move them into the whole world of e-mail marketing.”

E-Base will fill the need of clients who have been late in getting e-mail addresses on their customers and lack the lists to conduct campaigns, Brady said. She added that a lot of people want to use e-mail for loyalty and customer retention and the firms that are doing that are seeing “huge returns and huge benefits.”

Brady expects the integration of CatalogLink with SmartBase will convince more catalogs to list online.

In a related matter, Brighton confirmed that DMI has no plans to shut down its international list division and satellite office in the United Kingdom and noted that it is one of the company's top profit centers.

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