Live from NCDM: Privacy Predictions

(Direct Newsline) Long Beach, CA–Telemarketing may be in for some rough times during the next five years, which is how long the first rush of names on the federal do-not-call registry will remain on the file. But the industry will rebound and slowly recover as marketers introduce more responsibility into the sales process, according to Jennifer Barrett, company privacy leader at Acxiom Corp.

For one thing, the rush of consumers to join the do-not-call list will subside, Barrett said.

What’s more, marketers will give their customers more granular opt-out options, allowing them to self-select which offers are relevant. Finally, firms will become better at pointing out the benefits to consumers of allowing telemarketing offers.

Barrett predicted that of the 60 million people that the industry anticipates will sign up for the list by Oct. 1, only half will reenlist in 2008. But this does not mean that telemarketers should then immediately start calling them again. Telemarketing is all about relevance and respect, Barrett said. Responsible marketers will collect intelligence about household sensitivities to telemarketing and use it, test innovative scripts, and honor requests to opt out of individual company databases.

As for other channels, Barrett said that spam will be minimized through a combination of legislation, technology filters, and an industry code of conduct, and direct mail will continue to be the least regulated medium.

She also predicted that information from third parties would become somewhat harder to get and more expensive, that there will be a small decline in the number of lists on the market after broad-based privacy legislation passes, and that access to private-sector information by the government will be regulated.

Barrett made her predictions during an overview of the history of privacy regulation, which she gave at the National Center for Database Marketing conference here.

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