Questions for Michael Aronowitz, AIM’s New Executive Director

Justin Kirby It was almost exactly a year ago, in the early fall of 2003, that the tension between the Association of Interactive Marketers (AIM) and its parent organization reached a fever pitch. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) had suppressed a long-awaited best practices document, and when it did come out, the DMA-approved version avoided fixing a definition of spam, which was then considered key to establishing sending guidelines for marketers.

Many AIM members were outraged, and, following the rancor, many in the online marketing community began to wonder if AIM was at all independent of the interests of its powerful parent.

A year later, some would say AIM has faded in significance, as new groups like the E-Mail Service Provider Coalition have emerged to take the lead in the fight against spam. However, AIM has continued to forge ahead on the issues it considers most important. The group’s projects include the release of a search marketing white paper and the hosting of a Webinar series on email authentication.

Those issues now fall squarely in the lap of AIM’s new executive director, Michael Aronowitz. ClickZ recently tracked down Aronowitz to discuss what significance AIM now has in the marketing landscape. Aronowitz replaces former director Kevin Noonan, who vacated the post in March.

Q. AIM has at times found itself at odds with its parent organization, as with the delayed release of the email best practices document last year. How would you describe the current relationship between AIM and the DMA?

A.It could not be better; everyone has greeted me with open arms. We plan on doing events, seminars and many other projects together to educate members and help them achieve higher ROI. The past is the past. I am looking forward to working with the DMA to reenergize the AIM brand and focus on services that create bottom-line results for AIM’s members.

Q. What will the working relationship be like going forward?

A.Judging from the early impressions I have received and the cooperative nature of the staff and the senior managers I have met with, I believe that AIM will make great strides toward delivering even greater value to its membership through its own initiatives and leverage the vast resources of the DMA.

Q. Some would say AIM has less importance in the industry now than it did a year ago. Do you disagree? How would you change the mind of people who take that view?

A.The value of AIM to its members continues to be substantial. I would disagree that AIM has less importance in the industry. This past year it published a compendium on search engine marketing, as well as a technical white paper on the subject. It also helped program and deliver a continuing Webinar series to educate members about email authentication. This is not the work of an association whose importance is waning, but rather just a small glimpse at some of the accomplishments of a strong organization.

Q. What are the issues that now dominate AIM’s agenda? What do you expect a year from now?

A.Search, spyware, authentication, and seeing which types of marketing create the best ROI for interactive marketers today.

Just as interactive marketing is constantly evolving, so my role will have to change as needed. The only thing that is certain is that there will be change and AIM will adapt to continue to provide value to its members.

Q. Describe a day in the life of Michael Aronowitz.

A.I get up at 5:15 am and catch the 6:00 am bus; I get a hazelnut Starbucks coffee every morning and I am in the office by 7:15. Then I answer my email, read newsletters and newspapers online until 8:00. I make calls and send emails all day setting up appointments to speak with members and work with my team here on the issues of the day. Lunch is usually at my desk reading more newsletters and online magazines. Between 1:00 and 2:00, I am back at Starbucks for a tall hazelnut coffee and try to go see members or potential new members.

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