Wednesday, March 01, 2000

The Cyber Scene in Seattle ~ by Larry Sivitz

Composite more than 2,000 Internet marketing activists together with a world-class speakers' line-up of direct marketing association digerati, and you have the DNA of the DMA's Net Marketing 2000 Conference, a record-smashing convocation in Seattle spiraling around three days of idea-potent digital marketry. The synergy of the DMA's interactive family spilled outside the exhibition and standing-room-only session rooms of the Washington State Convention Center. Participants wound down (or up in some cases) in lively after-hours' socials held in various corners of the Emerald City, from Elliott's restaurant on the waterfront to the nearby GameWorks virtual arcade.

The most fun had to be Freeshop's freebie frivolity across from the Public Market where the Seattle Internet hubsters rented out the ShowBox nightclub and turned it into ground-zero for the DMA party of the millennium. Throughout the mild and moonlit night, a junior-fleet of Freeshop FreeShuttle vans could be seen breezing up and down the midtown corridors while inside the Showbox, DM delegates "grooved" to the very "funky" beats of the Retro's band and Hit Explosion. To make the thematic 70's and 80's night taste as authentic as it looked and
sounded, the menu was wonderfully whacky. Guests snacked on macaroni & cheese, ding-dong's, and Rice Krispy treats. All in all, a fab Freeshop fun fest.

Not all the members of the DMA's AIM (Association for Interactive Media) were happy campers though concerning the resolutions for responsible E-mail that passed AIM's executive council at the conference. Rosalind Resnick, chairwoman/CEO of e-mail list development and management firm NetCreations Inc., New York, is among them. Resnick, who is a member of the council, had proposed to the group that it pass a resolution supporting opt-in for third-party e-mail lists, in addition to the other resolutions. But, "AIM decided to table that for future discussion," she recalled wryly. She was not the only one on the council to support opt-in, but she was in a minority, she admitted. Instead, the resolutions called for informing the consumer about how their e-mail address will be used at the time of collection, giving the consumer an option to unsubscribe and
discouraging marketers from harvesting e-mail addresses with the intent to send bulk unsolicited e-mail without consumers' knowledge or consent. This amounts to a stance in favor of opt-out e-mail, Resnick said -- a stance that does not do enough to influence legislators and the public that marketers are not out to harm them. "DoubleClick is being penalized for something it hasn't even done yet," she said. As a result of the publicity surrounding DoubleClick, "public opinion has shifted" against direct marketers. "We need to work with lawmakers to make sure legislation suits our needs."

Who's buying the next round of Frappucino's? Seattle's Avenue A and can now afford to treat their employees to double-shots of espresso all year long, plus leave a generous tip for the barristas, after the frothing their initial public offerings whipped up on Wall Street this week. The reemerging March Seattle sun was clearly shining down on the faces of Ave. A. founders Mike Galgon, a former Navy officer and Seattle boating captain, technical officer Scott Lipskey, chairman Nick Hanauer, and former marketing chieftan Mike Leo, who left early last year to do more e-cubating. General Manager of E-Mail Marketing, Bruno Gralpois, who moved his office five streets uptown to Avenue A from Hunt Marketing Group last year, just before it was transformed into Hunt DDB Direct, might describe the good fortune in his native tongue as "tres' magnifique."

Seattle Magazine is readying a special Dot.Com edition. The publication has been winning design accolades as of late, the new look in no small part attributable to the talents of new Art Director Saroyan Humphrey. Meanwhile Advertising Director Melissa Coffman is preparing for a slew of advertisers in the special edition, while Production Manager Scott Book is keeping it all together after the pub's recent move. Editor Rachel Hart has also proudly announced that Jeff Pierce has joined the staff as managing editor. Jeff, a veteran writer and editor, is a long-time Seattle resident and has also authored several books. Kudos!