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SAVING THE DATA: A Bazaar Concept?

By Michael J. Koziarski II,  Account Associate, NOVA List

1DMAW’s annual List Bazaar was held in June at the Gannett Conference Center in Tyson’s Corner, VA.  As a seasoned veteran, having had 3 whole weeks of experience, it was my first time attending this event and I found it both engaging and surprisingly entertaining. The day’s festivities began with an enthusiastic welcome by DMAW Executive Director Donna Tschiffely. Her gracious hospitality and tireless efforts were pivotal to the success of the day’s events, although she would modestly defer any credit to her colleagues. Her remarks were followed by a series of breakout sessions, refreshment breaks, a keynote speech delivered by Jennifer Thomas, lunch, and a town hall discussion to conclude the day.

Vickie Norman of RMLC hosted a panel discussion on industry standards and the various ways in which they might be improved or amended moving forward. The topics included consistent use of order forms, honoring mail dates, and, most notably, the prospect of expanding direct mail standards to encompass email brokers.

The debate over industry standards  and the appropriate means of amending and reforming them will undoubtedly  attract much criticism and rightfully so. This was evident on Tuesday as passionate pleas for the adoption of uniform standards of process, disclosure, and adherence to the letter of an agreement were voiced. The one item which  appeared to earn a consensus was that some kind of action, one way or another, was necessary.

2These are exciting times indeed, but why now? It is my understanding such conversations have long dominated this forum. Perhaps, in what I consider the highlight of the Bazaar, Rachel Thomas’ keynote speech on her efforts to deter federal regulation of the direct marketing industry triggered alarms. Thomas illustrated the legitimate concerns of many privacy advocates, the FTC, and even the chairman of the powerful Senate Commerce Committee Senator Jay Rockefeller (D) of West Virginia. In December, Pam Dixon of the World Privacy Forum was invited to testify before Rockefeller’s committee. Her testimony regarding direct marketing was less than flattering and the FTC’s recommendation to establish a centralized opt-out page was a warning shot, to say the least. Senator Markey, Blumenthal, and Booker shared Ms. Dixon’s outrage and implied they were willing to pursue legislation if the industry could not self-govern.

In response to Dixon’s testimony, Thomas called on those in attendance on Tuesday to take responsibility for the protection and ethical use of the data they manage, so as to eliminate any need for legislation moving forward. “Save the data” was her message, whether it be for charitable fundraising, political fundraising, or commercial marketing, as their fates are tied to the preservation of the data market. Direct marketing is used to raise billions of dollars a year for a variety of worthy causes and it enables consumers to more effectively use their purchasing power. These are the messages that we must project and make a case for in both our personal and professional lives.

I am sure that many of you have heard this “same old song” one too many times. However, the efforts of DDMI and DMA to better our industry’s image in the court of public opinion should not be disregarded, nor should the consequences of their failure be taken lightly. The stakes are our charitable, political, and commercial interests and missions. With that said, I will do my part and attach a second sentence to my professional philosophy by solemnly swearing to protect and save the data…Will you do the same?