Jerry CerasaleAs I watched DMA SVP of Government Affairs Jerry Cerasale testify in front of the powerful Senate Commerce committee in mid December, it was a stark reminder of the need for a strong trade association to represent our often misunderstood and frankly, sometimes mistrusted industry. We all know and act on our commitment to consumer trust, but sometimes policy rhetoric will confuse the goodness we provide to consumers and the economy. Data-driven marketing is good for consumers – providing more relevant advertising, more customized experiences and more access to products and services and discounts. We must continually remind policy makers (and our customers) of our commitment to responsible and respectful practices.

It’s not that senators and other policy makers don’t understand the economic benefit. Nearly every Senator at the hearing, including Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller (D, W.VA), referenced the recent research released by the DMA Data-Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) on the value of data to our economy. Our $156 billion industry is formidable, and policy makers – especially those on a commerce committee – underscored the value of our marketplace.

Many Senators also noted the importance of a free Internet – supported by data-driven marketing and advertising. Senator Booker (D, NJ) even noted that “It’s just about more relevant advertising,” which is why DMA aggressively defends the use of marketing data, used responsibly for marketing purposes, as an essential economic driver. Data-driven marketing fuels and creates our data-driven lifestyle – so much so that it’s almost invisible to the many digital and loyalty experiences we all value every day.

However, Senator Rockefeller and others like him still want to regulate the use of consumer data in marketing, despite the lack of evidence of harm and the huge evidence of consumer benefit. It sounds crazy to us – as we celebrate the modern technology advances that let us customize customer experiences in (near) real time – but policy makers want to set direct marketing back 100 years in terms of the collection and use of consumer data.

DMA will continue to step up and represent the industry, in ways that no single company can do on its own, and in ways that give a voice to many smaller businesses, as well.

You can help. Please make sure that you and your business regularly review and check your practices against the Ethical Guidelines that are the cornerstone of our self-regulated industry. Outlier and careless marketers harm us us. Please keep up to date on the privacy, sales tax, postage and other issues that affect our industry – through DMA publications and our Legislative Coalitions. Make sure your team is fully aware and trained to be good stewards of the data you use, through our Data Matters certification and our new Tools & Rules short on-demand classes.

I look forward to having every DMA member fully engaged in this important advocacy work.