DMA Offers Guidance on Responsible Use of Marketing Lists
May 24, 2007 — Advances in data collection and transmission during the past 20 years have revolutionized the marketing community, making it possible for businesses and nonprofit organizations to use data in ways that help them get relevant messages to the consumers most likely to be interested in what they have to offer. The success of this data-driven “information economy” is built on consumer trust. And when consumer trust is shaken, the entire marketing community feels the impact.
DMA today reminded its members to follow Association guidance regarding the use of marketing data, underscoring that this is even more important when dealing with vulnerable groups or sensitive data.
DMA has long championed the responsible use of marketing data for legitimate business purposes. Adherence to DMA guidelines is a requirement for membership in the organization.
“Whether sent by mail, phone, e-mail or any other channel, the marketer is responsible for the messages it sends out,” said Patricia Kachura, DMA’s senior vice president for ethics and consumer affairs. “However, there are supporting companies that take part in the creation of a promotion, including list owners, brokers, managers, and compilers. Any time you partner with another company — whether it is to share lists or to create and disseminate an advertisement — the actions of your partner can reflect on you as well.”
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) takes the position that list providers do share some responsibility for how their data will be used. The Commission indicated list providers who know or “consciously avoid knowing” that the lists they provide will be used to perpetuate fraud could share some responsibility for any fraud that results from the use of their data.
In October 2004, DMA met with FTC officials to clarify the scope of the agency’s position. The FTC indicated it would be prepared to hold those who rent lists responsible for:
· Knowingly collaborating in an illegal offer.
· Misrepresentations or violations that are easily recognized in a sample script or promotion.
· Not acting on information they become aware of about a particular offer or marketer.
· Consciously avoiding knowledge about a legal violation.
To help companies ensure that their information is being used responsibly by third parties, DMA recommends that anyone who sells or rents marketing lists should:
· Have a written agreement outlining the purpose and scope of the list’s use.
· Ask for and obtain a copy of the script, e-mail or print promotion and keep it on file.
· Monitor or decoy list usage to make sure that the list is used only for its appropriate purpose.
Further recommendations for DMA members as well as non-members on appropriate list usage can be found by clicking here.
A complete copy of DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business practice is available here.
DMA has information available to help caregivers of seniors who may be participating in sweepstakes or making other purchases that are not in their own best interest. This advice was developed after consultation with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and is available here.
Services such as the Federal government’s National Do Not Call Registry (www.donotcall.gov) and DMA’s Mail Preference Service (www.the-dma.org) can also help seniors and caregivers manage communications from legitimate marketers.
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