DMA Hints It Will Absorb AIM

The Direct Marketing Association’s CEO said the group will move to make interactive marketing resources available to all members, and hinted its online marketing subsidiary would be absorbed into the parent organization.

“Direct, interactive, we’re trying to use these terms interchangeably,” said John Greco, speaking today at a press conference detailing the DMA’s 2005 strategic plan.

Greco said the interactive subsidiary, the Association of Interactive Marketers (AIM), should serve the entire member base, not just a select subset, and said it would be modified to do so.

“AIM has been a silo,” he added. “What we really need to do is take their benefits and research and make sure everyone benefits. The notion that interactivity applies only to a certain set of people is… outdated.”

Greco said interactive hold-outs have become the exception among the DMA’s constituents, that nearly all members are either marketing online now or planning to do it. While he stopped short of saying AIM would be absorbed into the DMA and didn’t offer any other specifics, integrating the subsidiary would seem a natural next step. Earlier this year, the group said it would discontinue its interactive-only events, merging them into regular conferences. Additionally, the Internet Alliance (IA), which has focused on state regulatory issues, was folded into the DMA’s lobbying group in Washington, D.C.

“To have it sitting outside [the government affairs group] made no sense,” Greco said today, adding the IA would maintain its focus on state-level legislative issues.

Greco made his comments at a press conference announcing the DMA’s 2005 strategic plan. The new plan, the first since 1997, includes a new effort to segment and increase the DMA’s constituents, and to take a channel-agnostic view of direct marketing. Additionally, the association will embark on a mission to improve communications with the public and restore the tattered image of the direct marketing process.

AIM has been a detached player in the online marketing community for the past 18 months or so. In mid-2003, several of the group’s members resigned in protest when the DMA suppressed an email best practices document that sought to define spam. Since then, the leadership of both AIM and its parent have changed, and the organization’s attention to interactive marketing appears on the rise.

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