For over 60 years, the Data & Marketing Association’s ethics and self-regulatory program preserves and protects the entire marketing industry’s ability to responsibly capture, process and refine detailed data to innovate marketing practices and technologies that benefit their customers and grow our economy.
ANA has crafted and enforced strong industry self-regulation in partnership with our members because we believe that self-regulation is always the better choice over government regulation of marketing. It is a key pillar of what we do at ANA each day as mapped in this annual report.
The challenge is daunting as innovation is driving new techniques and changes, but progress is being made in two ways:
We take consumer concerns seriously.
Uptick in consumers reaching out to ANA for assistance in removing deceased family members from marketing lists.
REMINDER: PASSING THE BUCK
The practice of “passing the buck” means that the company referred consumers complaining about its service or promotional mailing to ANA instead of handling.
the complaints internally, this is not an acceptable practice. For example, a large teleservices company included ANA’s complaint hotline on its own marketing mailing and online advertisement instead of providing an internal process for complaints from consumers. ANA received dozens of complaints as a result.
When companies refer consumers to ANA, consumers often believe ANA is the list source and that ANA can remove them from a company’s files. This is not the case. ANA cannot resolve a data issue for a company regarding its own database systems. Companies should ensure their organization has a marketing preference process in place.
ANA provides multiple preference lists to assist companies in honoring and consumers in managing marketing preferences across the various marketing channels.
Even though there’s been a tremendous growth and innovation in the digital marketplace, staff still receives the most inquiries from consumers who are seeking more control over the types and volume of promotional mail and catalogs they receive.
The ANA Accountability team has also seen an uptick in consumers seeking assistance in removing deceased family members from marketing lists. This is the most sensitive name removal request – companies should ensure that they have in-place an internal suppression process and that the front-line customer service representatives are properly trained on protocol.
The main category of complaints is still educating consumers on the difference between general ads and interest-based ads and how to manage the latter.
Staff assisted hundreds of consumers by educating them on how to better manage their online ad choices to suit their needs. Staff explained the different online ad choice tools available to help them manage their online experiences:
Cookie opt-out tool – for computers/laptops
App opt-out tool – for mobile devices
Significant jump in complaints/inquiries received through interest based advertising (IBA) complaint process based on digital platform experience. Here are some startling stats from the 2015 to the 2017-18, current reporting period:
Consumers using multiple devices from 2015 to current times grew: from 2% to 7% (Consumers’ complaints centered on receiving too many ads on multiple devices, or questions on how to better manage their online ad experience based on their multiple devices. Less is more for the consumer with multiple devices.)
Consumers using mobile devices continues to expand from 2015 to the current reporting period: jumping from 11% to 53% – showing a growing trend in usage of mobile devices – smartphones and tablets.
Drop in inquiries in consumers just using computers: 81% – 38%
ANA staff and our Ethics Operating Committee work with companies to address and resolve consumer inquiries and to bring companies into compliance if they happen to fall out-of-compliance. The Committee does not publicize companies that are brought into compliance. It is important to note that the Committee will refer to appropriate authorities (FTC, FCC, State Attorney Generals) when appropriate – any company that is not responsive or fails to come into compliance.
To view past and on-going non-compliant companies, click here.
We respect consumer privacy – and so do our members. ANA ensures that consumers have choices about unwanted marketing offers. Our members honor consumers who don’t want to be contacted. You have choices about the type of marketing you receive – two of our consumer services deal with mail and catalogs and online advertising.