The Direct Marketing Association has blasted a "60 Minutes" report aired March 9 about data brokers "collecting, analyzing and packaging some of our most sensitive personal information and selling it as a commodity."

dataThe trade group for data marketers called the piece an "unbalanced, heavily negative depiction" of its industry and vowed to increase its PR efforts.

In the "60 Minutes" report, correspondent Steve Kroft called the DMA "one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington" and highlighted data marketing giant Acxiom, a company he reported has on average 1,500 pieces of information on more than 200M Americans. "It's much harder for Americans to get information on Acxiom," Kroft said, noting the company declined an interview request and is "fairly vague" about its methods of collection and who its customers are.

Bryan Kennedy, CEO of another data broker, Epsilon, sat down with Kroft and argued that the data marketing industry's self-regulation program is adequate, despite calls in Congress for tighter regulation.

The DMA said in a retort to the piece that its self-policing has been effective for years. ""DMA has managed our successful self-regulation program for more than four decades, and we will continue to fight on the side of consumer value, transparency in data collection and use, ethical and responsible marketing, and innovation," said DMA president and CEO Linda Woolley. 

The trade group said it will be boosting efforts to educate the public on the benefits of its services.

The DMA started a blog series Feb. 24 called "The Plain Facts" in a bid to explain how data marketing works and how the industry says it can provide value to consumers and brands.