Isaacson to Leave AIM

Ben Isaacson, the Association for Interactive Marketing’s executive director, will step down from his position next month, after six years with the organization.

AIM, a subsidiary of the Direct Marketing Association, is undertaking a search for a replacement, but it’s unlikely that a successor will be named by Sept. 13, when Isaacson officially leaves the position for personal reasons.

The DMA plans to keep Isaacson on the payroll in a consultative capacity at least until the position is filled.

Isaacson told internetnews.com that he now feels free to establish a business consulting with interactive marketing companies, after having helped the association reach a level of financial stability and membership involvement.

“We’re at a point where [the departure] is not going to affect its viability,” he said. “The first goal was financial … At the end of our fiscal year this summer, we met the financial goals that we had set, even in a down economy, so I felt good about that.”

“And over the last few months, I’ve witnessed such an amazing amount of participation — particularly from the email industry — that I feel comfortable that the industry will have support and participation to keep doing that without me having to direct the course as strongly as I had,” he added.

During Isaacson’s career, the nine-year-old group — which began as the Interactive Television Association — underwent a series of transformations. From its origins as a body concentrating on purely the interactive television space, AIM moved to cover all forms of digital media in the mid-90’s. After its acquisition by the DMA in 1998, AIM refocused again to concentrate purely on interactive marketing.

In the final step of that process, Isaacson, who became executive director in 1999, oversaw the association’s name change in January from the Association for Interactive Media to its current moniker.

Isaacson also managed AIM’s consolidation of several related industry associations, including the Addressable Advertising Coalition and the Responsible Electronic Communications Alliance.

“Under Isaacson’s leadership, AIM has grown into the largest organization in the world dedicated to maximizing the presence of marketers across multiple interactive channels,” said Michael Faulkner, senior vice president of segments and affiliates at the DMA.

But at the same time as it was evolving and growing, AIM became something of a central player in the debate over consumer privacy and government regulation in iTV and Internet applications. In recent years, Isaacson helped orchestrate AIM’s participation in a number of public debates and policy meetings, including securing a place on the Congressional Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce — which had been tasked with studying the impact of an e-commerce tax.

During Isaacson’s tenure, AIM also undertook a number of initiatives designed to outline best practices for marketers’ data-handling and, in the process, to potentially forestall government intervention and consumer ire. During the past year, AIM approved guidelines for interactive TV privacy, rules covering the merging and purging of email lists, and a document outlining recommendations for email appending.

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