Members of the Association for Interactive Marketing are lobbying Direct Marketing Association board members to have DMA president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen fired over his silencing of AIM and what they perceive as his mishandling of issues surrounding e-mail, according to a well-placed source.
“A lot of us think he’s representing the interests of the interactive marketer extraordinarily poorly in his public relations, and he has completely denied AIM any voice in this discussion,” said the source, who is a current AIM member. “And that’s delivering a bunch of his members a message that says, ‘I don’t care about you.’ “
AIM has been silenced by the DMA since Kevin Noonan took over as executive director of AIM in October.
Another issue over which AIM members are upset is the DMA’s repeated delay of AIM’s Council for Responsible E-mail’s e-mail marketing best practices document, an initiative that was supposed to be published last month to help e-mail marketers avoid spamming. CRE members worked for months on the document, only to see it disappear into the DMA’s approval process.
“AIM charges us a bunch of money to belong to it every year. And when a whole bunch of good work gets flushed down the toilet, it makes those of us who are collectively paying, what, $300,000 in dues, $400,000 in dues, think we should be putting our money somewhere else,” said the source.
Among the problems the DMA had with the document was what it considered to be an overly broad definition of spam: unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail sent to people with whom the sender has neither a prior business relationship nor permission to send e-mail.
Instead, Wientzen has been defining spam only as fraudulent e-mail, much to the embarrassment of many AIM members.
“I don’t think Bob is acting maliciously. I think he truly believes that unsolicited commercial e-mail is OK as long as you can opt out of it, but that’s bad for the industry for a number of reasons,” the source said.
Meanwhile, the industry is rampant with rumors of AIM members considering letting their memberships expire.
“Unfortunately, AIM members are taking their anger at the DMA out on AIM by resigning, which will leave AIM as a shell of its former self,” said the source.
For example, Ian Oxman, vice president of e-mail consulting at RappDigital Innovyx, the e-mail marketing arm of Rapp Collins Worldwide, resigned July 28 as co-chair of AIM's e-mail deliverability committee. Moreover, RappDigital Innovyx let its AIM membership lapse.
“The last few months we've been increasingly concerned that AIM is not moving in the right direction for the permission e-mail industry,” Oxman told DM News earlier this month. “The DMA continues to hold to direct mail philosophies and is trying to push that on the permission e-mail industry, and it just doesn't work. … The bigger issue is that the direct mail industry fears that actions taken in the e-mail space will be the slippery slope into increased regulation of the postal mail world.”
Michael Mayor, e-mail committee chairman of online brand advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau, retracted IAB’s endorsement of the best practices document. As a result of the DMA’s delays and rumored changes to the best practices document, the IAB may release the original draft as its own initiative.
“AIM is no longer an independent voice for interactive marketers,” said the source.