Direct marketing is a form of marketing that attempts to send its messages directly to consumers, using "addressable" media, such as mail. Therefore, direct marketing differs from regular advertising in that it does not place its messages on a third party medium, or in the agora, such as a billboard or a radio commercial would. Instead, the marketing of the service or commodity is addressed directly to the consumer.
Direct marketing is attractive to many marketers, because in many cases its effectiveness can be measured directly. For example, if a marketer sends out one million solicitations by mail, and ten thousand customers respond to the promotion, the marketer can say with some confidence that the campaign led directly to the responses. By contrast, measurement of other media must often be indirect, since there is no direct response from a consumer. Measurement of results, a fundamental element in successful direct marketing, is explored in greater detail elsewhere in this article.
While many marketers like this form of marketing, it is sometimes criticized for generating unwanted solicitations, which are sometimes referred to as junk mail and spam.