Performance Anxiety: An Annotated History of Direct Marketing

Ever wonder how the discipline of direct marketing grew into something as big and amorphous as Performance Marketing? OMMA takes you on a journey through the decades from the simple days of direct mail to the mind-boggling world of performance marketing.

1940's >Herb Ahrend introduces mass Direct Mail Advertising techniques, employing hundreds of typists to mass-produce offerings.

1950's > Television networks master the art of selling advertising sponsorships to marketers of consumer products and services, not unlike the sponsorships that are being sold online today. Some marketers say the online model, which puts consumers in control, is returning advertising to its roots.

1960's > Direct Marketing is further refined to include response devices such as coupons and telephone numbers.

Facsimile (the fax) is developed, which enables the first direct-to-consumer marketing via electronics.

1970's > Lester Wunderman coins the term "Direct Marketing." Some of the earliest direct marketers were American Express and Columbia Records.

1980's > Database Marketing techniques are developed whereby companies analyze consumer and customer data to deliver relevant direct marketing messages to the most appropriate person. Predictive models cost upward of $1 million and take anywhere from six to 12 months to create, with companies budgeting for one model a year. Today, they cost exponentially less, can take just days or weeks to build, and marketers refresh their models often.

1990's > The commercial Internet is born.

E-mail Marketing is introduced.

The term Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is coined to convey the movement toward having a centralized view of the customer through any channel. CRM takes advantage of quantitative management systems, including automated tools that connect the customer-facing "front end" to the account management "back end."

2007 > Five years ago, the term Performance Marketing described online lead-generation strategies that result in an action, including tactics such as co-registration and affiliate marketing. Today, the term is somewhat of a catch-all and has been redefined to suggest a melding of traditional direct-marketing approaches with digital-media applications to quantify the return on fully integrated marketing efforts. The goal remains to come up with a measurable performance of each action to yield an ROI, but it's now about the whole relationship.

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