I’ve had several interesting conversations over the past couple of weeks pondering a tricky subject: What is the definition of a DM agency? It used to be easier to define. Mostly, they were defined by what they were not — the branding ad agency, which controlled and advocated for broadcast spend. These were the data guys, who liked to send stuff through the mail.
The DMA’s number-crunching shows that, for the first time, direct marketing budgets outweighed non-DM in 2007. We are reminded that marketers are moving toward output that creates engagement, connections and conversations, and has a call to action — all the things one associates with what Ramesh Lakshmi-Ratan, the DMA’s EVP and COO, called the art and science of direct marketing when I picked his brain on the subject. When you look at all of the companies that are involved in this paradigm, you see a vast array of businesses, with hugely divergent levels of specialization. What they have in common are the experts that plan and execute campaigns for marketers, using data and analytics, in any medium. (If you don’t agree, please, tell me your own definition.)
Why have I had these conversations recently? Well, as DMNews‘ commitment to both broad and deep industry issues continues, I’m excited to reveal our next big project: The DMNews Agency Business Report. This supplement, planned for later this year, will be the first in-depth look at the direct, digital and database marketing agency business from both a quantitative and qualitative point of view. In the next couple of weeks, we will post submission instructions on DMNews.com, as well as information for the holding company-owned agencies whose parents do not allow them to break out revenue figures. Please contribute to this research, and be a part of the record that shows the power and might of our industry.