Following President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) issued the following statement from Christopher Oswald, VP of Advocacy:

In the lead up to tonight’s address, the White House adeptly utilized state-of-the-art marketing techniques and technologies to preview President Obama’s message to the nation. This use of technology was the perfect example of marketing advancements, and we applaud the President’s embrace of the best practices and innovations that the data-driven marketing industry advances every day to benefit consumers and grow our nation’s economy.

Tonight’s address confirmed the vital importance of our industry to the national economy and our leadership in data-driven marketing here at home and around the globe. America leads the world in data-driven marketing innovation, according to a soon-to-be-released DMA study titled “The Value of Data,” and DMA is committed to ensuring this global leadership continues.

And yet, the marketing innovations that significantly drive both U. S. economic and jobs growth touted by the President tonight are at risk. The current U.S. policy environment falls short of providing such federal solutions as:

  • A national data breach notification standard to replace the current vexing patchwork of 47 state laws;
  • The re-establishment of the EU-U.S. Safe Harbor program, which facilitates the free flow of marketing data between Europe and the United States; and,
  • Reform of the outdated Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).

Against the backdrop of President Obama’s State of the Union Address, the following realities emerged:

Data-Driven Marketing’s Role in the “Internet of Everything Economy” is Surging

As the President highlighted job growth in recent years, the data-driven marketing ecosystem can claim its role in accelerating that growth. Between 2012 and 2014, jobs in the data-driven marketing industry grew by nearly 50%. The data-driven marketing industry is uniquely positioned to encourage jobs and sales growth across all industry sectors. All companies – whether large or small, mature or just starting up – benefit from today’s advanced, data-driven marketing environment. Dramatic advances in marketing technology now enable marketers to better serve the interests and needs of their consumers by responsibly transforming data into meaningful insight. Additionally, the expanding data-driven marketing ecosystem is creating new jobs every day.

International Commerce Helps Drive U.S. Growth and Must be Protected

Tonight, the President underscored the importance of international open markets. When the European Court of Justice (ECJ) struck down the Safe Harbor Framework in October 2015, the Court put at risk the ability of over 4,000 U.S. companies to conduct responsible business that benefits consumers and many national economies, particularly among those most in need of commercial innovation. The reestablishment of a Safe Harbor agreement for data flows between the EU and the U.S remains a high priority, and DMA urges the administration to take the final steps to establish a Safe Harbor 2.0 to ensure U.S. businesses continue operations in Europe. Any additional delay jeopardizes the American position as a global tech and innovation leader.

Marketing Industry Self-Regulation Continues to Foster Responsible Marketing and Innovation that Benefits Consumers

To sustain both the job growth touted tonight by the President and the continued data-driven advancements and innovations in technology, regulators must continue the balance between adaptable industry self-regulation alongside sectoral laws. Overregulation is a sure method to stifle economic growth and innovation, be it from state or federal authorities. Existing law provides a proper balance, with sectoral laws (such as HIPAA, COPPA and FCRA) securing sensitive and private information while industry self-regulation monitors and addresses both online and offline marketing and advertising information practices. For more than 40 years, DMA has led a robust self-regulatory program that is constantly enforced and continually updated. DMA’s enforcement remains nimble, adapting to changes and advancements in technology, such as the recent adoption of AdChoices on mobile devices.

Startups are a Vital Engine of Innovation and Jobs Growth and Pursuing a Purpose Beyond Profit Wins Customers and Lifts Our Economy

President Obama rightly recognized in his speech the importance of supporting the new economy in America that encourages startups to launch, grow and compete, and that rewards what we at DMA call “Purpose beyond profit.”

The President said, “In this new economy, workers and startups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.”

DMA became one of the first trade associations to support fledgling companies in our industry through a startup competition called the HOT ZONE at DMA’s annual event, &THEN. The HOT ZONE provided fifteen new and innovative martech and adtech companies free exhibit space and the chance to compete to win cash prizes. We’ve seen first-hand the role new and energetic companies play in sparking innovation and are already underway with plans to expand the HOT ZONE startup competition in 2016.

DMA also made it a point in 2015 to feature executives whose companies put purpose before profit at our top events. These featured executives, who include Blake Mycoskie of TOMS and Dave Gilboa of Warby Parker, to name a few, have built their businesses around giving back and helping those in need. DMA will continue to provide a platform for these companies in the marketing industry that have a purpose beyond profit, and we applaud the President’s support of startups and purpose-focused companies.

About the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)

The Direct Marketing Association (, founded in 1917, is the world’s largest trade association dedicated to advancing and protecting responsible data-driven marketing. DMA represents thousands of companies and nonprofit organizations across the entire ecosystem of data-driven marketing – including supply and demand sides. As such, DMA is uniquely positioned to bring together all industry participants to address the most significant challenges and advance solutions that benefit the marketplace. DMA’s solutions bring forward INNOVATION that accelerates business growth, EDUCATION that develops talent and ensures compliance with ethical and best practices, and ADVOCACY that advances policies which support innovation in marketing. DMA’s signature event, &THEN, is the largest global event for data-driven marketing and attracts the industry’s top leaders and practitioners from around the world.