November 2, 2007 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) today participated in the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Town Hall Meeting on Behavioral Marketing. As part of a panel discussion, DMA’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale emphasized the importance of responsible data collection by marketers, and highlighted the critical role such data plays in keeping Internet content free and accessible to all Americans.
“We applaud the Federal Trade Commission for conducting this valuable workshop on these important issues,” said Cerasale. “The Direct Marketing Association will continue to aggressively seek opportunities that will evolve our self-regulatory program to improve consumer trust and business responsibility that applies to nearly 4,000 companies.”
“Self-regulation has worked in the online marketplace,” Cerasale continued. “DMA’s ethical guidelines cover the collection, use, notice, and sharing of data with others, and requires further restrictions for more sensitive data. Eight years ago, privacy advocates claimed that the tracking and collection of data over the Internet would harm consumers. However, thanks in large part to responsible self-regulation by the business community, these fears were never realized. This is evidenced by the fact that consumers are using the Internet in record numbers and the great majority of them are fully aware that information is being collected and it is enhancing their overall on-line experience.”
Cerasale pointed out that consumers are voting with their clicks. In fact, according to research recently conducted on behalf of DMA; 81 percent of Internet users say the Internet has improved their lives; 72 percent of consumers prefer free websites subsidized by advertising; 86 percent of consumers visit free websites with only 10 percent visiting subscription sites; and 86 percent now say they are increasing purchases on the Internet.
Cerasale also noted, “Advertising supported or ‘free’ content allows all Americans, regardless of their socio-economic status, to enjoy and benefit from the Internet. This is the very basis of the democratization of the Internet. Any restrictions that will ultimately reduce the overall efficacy of Internet advertising will shrink the financial resources available to support invaluable free content. You only need to look as far as Europe, with a population larger than the United States, greater broadband penetration, and mobile Internet usage, but with half the advertising revenue. European regulations have clearly stifled advertising, and thus the proliferation of access to free content.”
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