New MyPoints CEO: DM Has No Place in Online Loyalty Marketing

New MyPoints chairman and chief executive John H. Fullmer does not think traditional direct mail has a place in an online loyalty marketing firm.

“There is no reason to put ink on paper anymore,” Fullmer said when asked if MyPoints is considering any direct mail efforts to compensate for the current lack of online ad spending.

Struggling online loyalty and direct marketer announced Fullmer's appointment on Wednesday. The company recently reported that first-quarter revenue would fall at least $2 million short of analyst predictions.

MyPoints had been operating without a CEO since the resignation of Steve Markowitz in November.

Fulmer, 55, brings 30 years of direct marketing experience to the table. He spent 18 years with direct marketing company CUC International, which merged with HFS Inc. in 1997 to create direct marketer and franchiser Cendant Corp.

Falling online ad spending is a result of “uncertainty, but it's a lack of experience on [the] marketer's part,” Fulmer said.

“We've got 16 million names,” he said. “I can select and slice my list up better than anyone else.”

He disregarded the idea that loyalty point incentives provide marketers with weak leads.

“I'd challenge anyone that says our leads are less qualified,” Fulmer said. “On the surface we have to give away points … but we've [proved] that we deliver impressive response rates.”

Not everyone agrees.

According to Rick Barlow, chairman/CEO of Frequency Marketing Inc., Cincinnati, leads from online loyalty providers “stink.” Barlow's company provides online and offline loyalty programs.

“You get a barrage of junk e-mail that exceeds by three times any barrage of other junk mail I've received in my life,” he said. “I'll bet most people don't even open them.”

Barlow also said Fullmer's stance against using direct mail is “a ridiculous statement, a rash response that doesn't mirror any sophisticated understanding of where he's arrived — which is in the middle of a problem with no easy solution.”

Ink and paper give direct marketers the opportunity to create an image and convey a thought to consumers. “Junk e-mail does not,” he said.

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