DMA believes that self-regulatory measures are preferable to governmental mandates. Self-regulatory programs are more readily adaptable to evolving technologies, shifting consumer preferences and changing economic and social conditions. They encourage widespread use of sound business practices, building consumer trust while allowing businesses to quickly adjust their practices to best meet the needs of their customers.
DMA has and will continue to support and promote self regulation for marketing data usage, while also working to ensure that self-regulation remains a viable and effective means of protecting consumers while fostering innovation.
DMA’s Executive Vice President of Washington Operations, Linda Woolley, speaks about the power of self-regulation on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.”
Setting and Enforcing Ethical Guidelines for the Marketing Community
For decades, DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice have provided individuals and organizations involved in direct marketing with generally accepted principles of conduct. For example, an important premise of the Guidelines is that marketing data should be used for marketing purposes only. Therefore, the consumer data used by marketers to send consumers relevant offers cannot be used for any other purpose. The Guidelines explain the procedures marketers must use to provide consumers choices for the use or nonuse of their data.
The Guidelines are constantly updated and adapting to reflect innovations and new practices used by the marketing community.
In addition to providing general guidance to the industry, the Guidelines are the basis for DMA’s self-regulatory enforcement program. All DMA members are required to comply with the Guidelines as a condition of membership. The DMA receives and investigates complaints against member and non-member organizations. These complaints are reviewed and handled by DMA’s Corporate Responsibility department in conjunction with the DMA Committee on Ethical Business Practice. DMA publishes an annual Ethics Case Report summarizing the findings of the Committee on Ethical Business Practice.
Because dishonest, misleading or offensive communications discredit all means of advertising and marketing, including direct marketing, observance of these Guidelines by all concerned is vital. All persons involved in direct marketing should take reasonable steps to encourage other industry members to follow these guidelines as well.
AboutAds: The Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising
Self-regulation is the most efficient and effective way to respond to privacy issues related to marketing and advertising. For this reason, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) raised concerns about the privacy implications of online behavioral advertising, DMA partnered with other large media and marketing associations to launch the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising, which gives consumers a better understanding of and greater control over ads that are customized based on their online behavior (also called "interest-based" advertising).
The Program calls for interest-based ads to include an “Advertising Option Icon” that links consumers to information about online behavioral advertising and allows them to make choices about the interest-based ads they receive. By clicking on the icon, consumers can visit the industry-developed AboutAds Consumer Opt-Out Page to easily opt-out of some or all of the interest-based ads they receive, if they choose.
DMA and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) share responsibility for ensuring accountability and enforcement of the Program. All DMA members are required to comply with the Program as a condition of membership, and enforcement activities will extend to both members and non-members. The DMA will ensure compliance through the use of monitoring technology and utilizing monitoring technology specifically designed for the Self-Regulatory Program. In addition to DMA’s long-standing complaint-based system, advanced monitoring technology will enable DMA to proactively seek out compliance issues across the Internet, and gather evidence to effectively investigate the complaints received.
Make sure that your organization is leading the way in complying with the Self-Regulatory Program. Learn everything you need to know at www.AboutAds.info.
Ensuring Consumer Choice
As part of its self-regulatory mandate, DMA not only works to resolve problems for consumers, but also empowers consumers to make choices.
Over the course of a year, DMA handles thousands of consumer inquiries on topics ranging from Internet shopping inquiries and consumer privacy preferences, to complaints regarding specific shopping experiences. DMA offers this service to the public in order to help with marketing questions and to contact those companies and organizations not playing by the rules. Staff helped resolve reported problems by applying the DMA’s self-regulatory guidelines to each situation.
Through the consumer-facing DMAChoice website, a consumer can log on to reduce unwanted mail and communicate directly with organizations regarding individual preferences. More than 4 million consumers have used DMAChoice to customize the mail the marketing mail they receive. Since consumers have this self-regulatory option to limit mail marketing offers, DMA is actively opposing do not mail registry legislation in the states and localities.
The Commitment to Consumer Choice (CCC) program reflects DMA’s continued emphasis on empowering consumers and strengthening their trust with the direct marketing community. Adhering to the CCC program – a requirement for DMA member organizations – requires that organizations notify consumers of the opportunity to modify or eliminate future mail solicitations.