The DMA has hit back at claims that it has sabotaged Government plans to set up a centralised opt-out service for unaddressed direct mail – first announced back in 2011 – insisting it is still waiting for ministers to get onboard.
DecisionMarketing first reported on delays to the initiative in 2013. But fresh allegations in The Times, and repeated, surprise, surprise, by the Daily Mail, claim that infighting between the Department of the Environment & Rural Affairs (Defra) and the DMA mean the scheme – due to go live in 2012 – has been quietly dropped.
The claims follow a Freedom of Information request by industry nemesis Robert Rijkhoff, at the Stop Junk Mail campaign, which revealed the website central to the scheme was built, but has never been made available to the public.
Rijhkof told The Times: “Clearly, the DMA sabotaged the scheme by making impossible demands to Defra. They were worried that people would actually start using the industry’s opt-out schemes and this would reduce their profits.”
As DecisionMarketing readers will know, the British press love nothing more than indulging in direct marketing industry bashing, despite the fact that nearly all of their holding companies run huge DM operations.
The Telegraph Group pioneered the use of database marketing in the late Nineties; News UK, owner of The Times and The Sun, soon followed suit, and Mail owner Associated has also been using DM for years. Last month it even set up a content division along with WPP, and SnapChat, although this did not prevent it from slagging off Royal Mail for a programmatic trial which will target consumers with mailings based on their Internet shopping habits. (See also: The great British media: Not so great when it comes to telling the truth about direct marketing)
In response to the latest claims, the DMA has confirmed that Defra has not communicated to the industry body any intention to halt the development of the door-drop preference service.
As a result, the DMA said that, together with partners such as Royal Mail, it will continue to work with Defra to implement the scheme to cut waste. To date, the DMA has led the scheme and developed a website and working software to get the project off the ground. All at no cost to the public purse. The industry body maintains that for the scheme to be successful it is vital all the organisations stated in the agreement take part.
Defra has issued the following statement: “We recognise the impact unaddressed mail has on householders and the environment. Through voluntary deals with industry we are working to ensure printed advertisements and magazines are greener, distributed in a manner which minimises waste and promotes household recycling.
“We would also encourage people to use existing ‘opt-out’ services operated by the Direct Marketing Association and the Royal Mail to help avoid unwanted mail.”
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