Passing the Gavel: Matt Blumberg Reflects on Two Years as DMA Chairman

Editor’s Note:  Matt Blumberg, CEO and Chairman of Return Path, has served as DMA Chairman for two years. We are very grateful to Matt for his leadership, exceptional support and bountiful wisdom. DMA is stronger due to his guidance and contribution.  In this guest post, Matt reflects on his tenure and readies to “pass the gavel” next week at DMA13.  Thank you, Matt!

matt blumberg

I’ve been privileged to serve as the Chairman of the Board of the DMA for the past two years, and just as Steve Dapper handed me the proverbial gavel in 2011, I’m now handing it to JoAnne Monfradi Dunn for the next two years.

JoAnne is an exceptional leader with equally deep connections to the industry’s roots and its future.  Alliant, the company she founded in 2002 and continues to run as CEO, is an innovative database and analytics company that helps marketers target and optimize the best customers across channels.  JoAnne has a tremendous perspective on the ongoing transition of  DMA because Alliant, and many of its clients, operate in both the traditional world of direct marketing while successfully working to introduce new services and solutions into the digital marketing landscape.

JoAnne has received a Silver Apple lifetime achievement award from the Direct Marketing Club of New York and has also been an active member of the DMA and our Foundation, Marketing EDGE (formerly DMEF), serving as Chair of DMA’s Ethics Policy Committee and Secretary and Director of MarketingEDGE before joining the DMA’s Board and Executive Committee two years ago.  She was unanimously elected as our new Chairman of the Board at our September meeting.

I’m proud of the progress the DMA has moved in the last two years.  By far the biggest “news” of the past two years has been the appointment of Linda Woolley as our new CEO, following a very successful four year run as head of our Government Affairs team in Washington, DC.  But the bigger news is that under Linda’s leadership, the association has a new mission – “To advance and protect responsible data-driven marketing” – that sharpens our focus on the single biggest threat facing our businesses, which is the flood of pending legislation and regulation which, while well-meaning, hasn’t been developed with an eye towards its potential impact on our economy or the data-driven way of life that all of us have come to depend on.

Armed with Linda’s new Mission statement, the Board approved a new Vision (To be the premier trade association for marketing leaders at the world’s most recognized brands), and a new Strategic Plan to focus the association on work that is most meaningful to the modern marketer.  Just as important as what we prioritized is what we didn’t – members should already be seeing a more meaningful set of products and services.  Linda and her team have begun to operationalize that plan to translate it into real member benefits, including new compliance tools, new educational offerings (there are 10 new certification courses underway, for example), a new event – the New York-based Integrated Marketing Week in partnership with eConsultancy, and a new membership model with benefits provided to our most active and supportive members.  We’ve also spent a lot of time this year updating and expanding our compliance guidelines, the foundation of our “public trust” and the core value of the association.  We are launching new email and mobile guidelines this Fall with expanded guidelines for both retail and ad:tech on the way.

The DMA has done all of this in a regulatory environment where data-driven marketers are under more scrutiny and pressure than ever before.  So far our efforts to educate lawmakers and regulators via our Data-Driven Marketing Institute (DDMI) and steer the process through our association’s exceptional use of self-regulation have been successful, but we need to maintain a very active and vigilant posture to ensure those trends continue.  We also continued to keep the heat on with a number of other strong public opinion and advocacy efforts around postal reform, transparency around the use of data by “data brokers” and others, mobile app privacy notice and consumer privacy.

The Board has also made significant progress in reshaping the finances and governance of the association in the past two years, ensuring a more stable future after the economic challenges stemming from the Great Recession significantly impacted our operations (as was the case with many trade associations).

JoAnne will be joined by fellow officers Arjan Dijk from Google as Vice Chairman, Rick Erwin from Experian as Treasurer, and Dawn Zier of Nutrisystem as Secretary.

Please join me in congratulating JoAnne on her election to Chairman and wishing her, Linda, and the whole team at the DMA two more years of success and progress to come.

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