Live from NCDM: Technology will continue to spur growth

(Direct Newsline) Philadelphia–The United States direct marketing industry generated $1.8 trillion in 2001 and is poised to deliver $2 trillion this year–and much of that growth will be spurred by database and Web technology.

This will occur much as database technology led the industry through the recessionary days of 1991, said Charles Prescott, the Direct Marketing Association’s vice president of international business development and government affairs, in opening remarks at the NCDM Conference here.

Prescott presented the remarks originally scripted for H. Robert Wientzen, the DMA’s president /CEO. Wientzen, who was ill, did not attend the conference’s opening day.

Marketing information is the alpha and omega of direct and interactive marketing, Prescott said. The tools and processes used to collect, analyze, segment, employ and archive this information fuel the direct response industry.

But Prescott acknowledged several “dark clouds.” Privacy is of them, despite the DMA’s efforts, he said. Consumers still have “the impression that database companies are indiscriminately vacuuming up every drop of information they can find about people –and are selling it to the highest bidder.”

While most companies are “good corporate citizens” that follow both governmentally imposed rules and DMA guidelines, there are a few bad players out there. The public debate has not abated, he warned, and further legislative and regulatory restrictions hang over the industry’s head.

Prescott also cited as concerns rising postal rates, which tend to suppress prospecting; postal legislative reform; the FTC’s proposed national do-not-call registry; and overreaching legislative efforts relating to spam that could hurt e-mail marketing.

The National Center for Database Marketing Conference, at the Philadelphia Convention Center, runs through Wednesday.

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