With Woolley as CEO, DMA Focuses on Data Marketing

Linda Woolley has been appointed president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the organization announced today. Woolley, who last May became the DMA’s acting president and CEO following the resignation of her predecessor Larry Kimmel, has spurred DMA’s new agenda to support and advance data-driven marketing practices.

DMA’s focus on data-driven marketing comes at a time of intense scrutiny around the way in which consumer data is collected and used—a debate that involves so-called data brokers, consumers, watchdog groups, and government officials. Guided by Woolley, whose previous position within DMA was EVP of Washington Operations, the organization has focused on protecting the interests of marketers that rely on data to better do their jobs.

For instance, last July, eight Congressmen sent nine third-party data providers letters that questioned the extent to which those data providers collected information on children and teens; the letters also voiced concerns that consumers determined to have “low value” to marketers would be cut off from certain economic opportunities. DMA responded with its own letter to lawmakers cautioning that “unnecessary restrictions on marketing could undermine economic and job growth.”

Woolley has argued that Congress lacks understanding of data-driven marketing and that its definitions—particularly of a “data broker”—are too vague. “If [a data broker is] any company that collects and uses consumer data, then that pretty much covers every company on the face of the earth,” she told Direct Marketing News last August.

To further protect the interests of data-driven marketers, DMA created the Data Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI), which the organization announced last October during the DMA2012 conference in Las Vegas. “DDMI is aimed at increasing understanding and improving perceptions of data-driven marketing among policymakers, consumers, and the media—and it works to prevent needless regulation or enforcement that could severely hamper data-driven marketing and stifle innovation,” according to Woolley.

Additionally, to help marketers better understand best practices related to government regulations, as well as consumer data collection and use, DMA unveiled last June its Data Governance Certification program.

Because every company relies on data to market to consumers, Woolley sees an opportunity for DMA, with its focus on developing data marketing best practices and protecting the interests of data marketers, to be the “go-to trade association for CMOs [and] CEOs across a multitude of industries.”

Under Woolley’s leadership, DMA has essentially staked out its position as a vanguard for the rights and interests of data-driven marketers. “DMA is the only trade association protecting companies’ ability to continue to collect, use, buy, and sell customer data,” she says.

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