Association Consolidation: ANA to Acquire DMA, ERA Closes Doors


NEW YORK – The Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the oldest trade association in the marketing industry, is acquiring the Data & Marketing Association, formerly the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).

The deal is subject to formal approval of the voting members of the DMA but is expected to close by July 1. The result will be the single largest trade association in the U.S. for marketers. 

Total membership will include 2,000 corporate enterprises representing 20,000 brands and engaging 150,000 industry professionals in ad agencies, media companies, law firms, consultancies, ad tech, and marketing solution and service providers.

ANA CEO Bob Liodice said the combination of these two groups would bring “immense value” and a “new entity dedicated to comprehensively serving virtually every aspect of marketing with distinction and professionalism.”

Per the agreement, the DMA will become a division of ANA division that will be headed by DMA CEO Tom Benton. This unit will offer “a robust network of educational and professional development resources channeled through” the DMA’s strategic center for data-driven excellence. 

Though ANA and DMA leaders were positive about the move, a trio of anonymous insiders painted a different picture in an AdAge story from last Friday. 

“The 101-year-old DMA … has been bleeding cash, losing members and shopping itself around for a few years, according to three people familiar with the matter. They asked to remain anonymous to protect industry relationships,” wrote AdAge reporter George Slefo. “One of the people familiar with the situation describes the DMA deal as a ‘total fire sale,’ adding the trade body had attempted to sell itself to the Interactive Advertising Bureau four years ago. The IAB board declined, partly over price, the person says.”

The story also notes that, according to recent tax filings, the DMA’s revenue dropped from $22 million in 2013 to $16.8 million in 2016. Additionally, the DMA’s net income of $1.8 million in 2013 had turned into a $900,000 annual loss in 2016.

In other association news, the Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) terminated operations and closed its doors on June 1.

In a letter emailed to ERA members, Bill Sheehan – ERA’s executive vice president – wrote that the ERA’s board voted unanimously to close due to “declining dues receipts, fewer sponsorships, and an overall shortage of revenue coupled with burdensome expenses.”

Sheehan said that, for 28 years, ERA “represented, championed, and educated its members and associates as the direct response industry evolved.”

“The ERA, as the only non-profit association in the direct response space, advocated for self-regulation and best practices and helped take the industry from nascency to maturity,” Sheehan added. “The ERA is very proud of the member companies that benefited, grew, and prospered under its guidance and tutelage.”

During their histories, Response had worked directly and in partnership with both organizations at various times. Response’s John Yarrington (publisher) and Thomas Haire (editor-in-chief) co-signed and shared a statement about the DMA and ERA news via social media on Monday:

During the past two decades, industry consolidation — among media companies, agencies, and marketers themselves — has been an ongoing part of our coverage, as well as a topic of discussion with many of our readers and event attendees. Late last week, we learned — again — that such consolidation also exists among industry organizations and trade events. News of the DMA’s acquisition by the ANA and the Electronic Retailing Association’s cessation of operations was surprising — but not shocking — to those of us who have worked in and around the direct-to-consumer marketing industry.

While these changes are not without an emotional component to the many of us who took part in these organizations over the years, the future remains bright for those of you who work in performance marketing — and for those of us who provide education and networking opportunities to this industry. We have long believed the expansion of new media, e-commerce, and its accompanying technologies provide the opportunity for a next step in the evolution of performance marketing leaders unafraid to face change — and bring their decades of expertise and innovation to bear. We look forward to carrying on our efforts in sharing the best stories of that leadership and connecting experts through our editorial content and events in order to expand the success of this business in the coming decades.