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IDMB: DMA Is Still Too Broad Over Web Issues

SAN FRANCISCO–Though the DMA signaled serious intentions on the Net by acquiring the Association for Interactive Media last week, the newly formed Internet Direct Marketing Bureau hasn't changed its plans, said Paul Grand, chairman of the IDMB's steering committee.

“I can't speak for AIM, but I know their focus isn't on interactive marketing,” said Grand, who is CEO of Word of Net Promotions, Los Angeles. “Their focus is on interactive everything. They're not going to shift their focus and become an interactive direct marketing group. They're going to continue to focus on a whole host of things.”

Also, the IDMB doesn't think it competes with the DMA and AIM, Grand said.

“We're specifically focused on Internet direct marketing, and that's all you'll see out of our group, which is why you'll see a number of their members join our group and visa versa,” he said.

While there were rumors that the DMA's announcement was in reaction to the IDMB's launch earlier this month, Grand wouldn't comment and the DMA denied them.

“This has been in the works for the last 18 months,” said Vesna Huzovic, media relations manager at the DMA. “[The timing] was purely coincidental.”

DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen announced the acquisition at the fall show last week and said the DMA will continue to talk to groups like AIM but would not offer details.

“We support these ad-hoc groups,” he said. The acquisition mirrors an industry trend where established firms buy entrepreneurial companies they think are on the verge of success.

Headquartered in Washington, AIM is a trade association of close to 250 companies doing business on the Internet. Its members include MindSpring, Yoyodyne, Hotmail, Bloomberg, Citicorp, Nielson Media Research and Sportsline USA. The group was established in 1993.

“AIM is the old dog of the new media business,” Andy Sernovitz, president of AIM, said at a press conference with Wientzen. He stressed that AIM is a commerce-oriented trade group.

“We're not techies,” Sernovitz said. “We're the people who have to go to work every day and figure out how to make a profit in this crazy business.”

Neither Wientzen nor Sernovitz would give financial details.

“There are financial issues involved. Technically and legally, it's an acquisition,” Wientzen said, adding that AIM employees will now be DMA employees.

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