Business Outlook 2003
Consumer education is key. "I think we, as an industry, have to do a better job of helping consumers, consumer advocates, legislators and regulators understand the benefits of what we do for a living," implores Jan Davis, executive vice president at TransUnion. "If we are put out of business, or it's made to be too expensive, and less appropriate because we can't target effectively, it will be a death spiral."
Part of the problem is that politicians see privacy legislation as an easy win when appealing to constituents.
"I heard recently that privacy legislation is a given," offers The Horah Group's Dick Goldsmith. "The reason is that they've done surveys, and [they've found] the people who are interested in environmental issues are the same people who are interested in privacy issues."
So legislators wary of passing environmental laws have found they can keep the same group sated with privacy legislation.
"We have to work very hard to make sure politicians know that our agenda, perhaps, is more important to the economy than things that would involve environmental legislation," sums up Goldsmith.
But advocacy is a full-time business, and what direct marketer has time for a second job?
Richard Rossi, president of Envision Corp., questioned the DMA's role in the process. "I've seen outrageous initiatives come up on Capitol Hill, and instead of screaming and yelling and banding together and going up there, the DMA is extremely shy," he offers.
But is the DMA in a position to champion such an effort? "I wonder if you can count on the DMA," ponders Hacker. "Look at how many constituencies they try to serve. It's such a broad brush they're trying to paint with: You've got people from agencies, you've got clients, you've got vendors. … If the companies aren't willing to fight the battle themselves, the battle is going to be lost; in fact, that ship has sailed."
- San Francisco