DMA’s Woolley: Data-Driven Marketing Is ‘Made in America’ – Don’t Ruin It

If “data-driven marketing” could sport a manufacturer’s label, it would be “Made in America,” says Linda A. Woolley, the president and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). But that’s not the only reason U.S. legislators should support the practice, rather than trying to pass laws that will “muck around” with the industry that generated $156 billion in revenue and funded more than 675,000 jobs in 2012, she says, quoting statistics from research DMA released on Monday at DMA2013 in Chicago.

Woolley spoke during a two-hour press conference, in which DMA released the results from “The Value of Data: Consequences for Insight, Innovation and Efficiency in the U.S. Economy.” Woolley says DMA commissioned the study that looked into data’s role in the economy because “we very much felt as if our industry was under siege” due to investigations of and articles about data-driven direct marketing’s impact on consumer privacy. She says the concept is so important to direct marketing’s existence that a subcommittee of DMA’s board is looking into changing the organization’s name to the “Data-Driven Marketing Association.”

On Oct. 29, DMA will meet with legislators at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., to tell them lawmakers’ attempts to oversee the industry could imperil the economy and, thereby, themselves, Woolley says. Restricting marketers’ use of data could limit consumers’ choice and raise prices, says Rachel Nyswander Thomas, executive director of the Data-Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) and DMA’s vice president of government affairs. Thomas says “at the end of the day” all businesses benefit from what she, Woolley and the two professors who researched the matter call the “data-driven marketing economy.” Thomas highlights the portion of the report that states “70 percent of the value of the [data-driven marketing economy (DDME)]—$110 billion in revenue and 478,000 jobs—depends on the ability of firms to exchange data across the DDME.”

John Deighton, a Harvard Business School professor and Peter Johnson, an adjunct professor at Columbia University and formerly DMA’s vice president of research strategy, say they looked at 650 companies that link producers to consumers using data-driven marketing. “The $156 billion that we cite is the minimum” that data-driven marketing adds to the economy, Johnson says.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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