DMA: Data and Marketing Association
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DMA Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice

A note regarding the DMA Member Guidelines found on this page:

The DMA Guidelines are an important membership compliance resource and the baseline requirement for all DMA members in good standing.

A new edition including a section specific to data standards goes into effect as of July 1, 2018. This is based on DMA’s Data 2.0 standards initiative. For more information about Data 2.0, see this section.

  • To review current DMA Guidelines, please click here, these are the current Guidelines in effect through June 30, 2018.
  • To review the new guidelines effective as of July 1, 2018, please see below.

Please be certain to review each edition with your team and those working on your behalf. Additional education about the 2017 Guidelines will be announced in the coming year. For questions, please contact ethics@thedma.org.

Code of Conduct

The Data & Marketing Association’s (“DMA”) Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice (“Guidelines”) are intended to provide individuals and entities involved in data-driven marketing in all media with generally accepted principles of conduct. These Guidelines reflect DMA’s long-standing policy of promoting the highest levels of ethics in data stewardship and marketing. DMA believes it is the responsibility of DMA, its members, and all entities involved in data and marketing to develop trusted consumer relationships that are based on fair and ethical principles.

These Guidelines represent DMA’s general philosophy that self-regulatory measures are preferable to governmental intervention and regulation. Self-regulatory actions by our industry are more readily adaptable to changing technology and economic and social conditions. They encourage widespread use of sound business practices that lead to better results for entities and valuable customer and donor experiences that improve lives while respecting individual privacy concerns.

In this version of the Guidelines, DMA has examined many data-specific provisions and revised and updated them to reflect today’s practices. These revised provisions make up the Data Standards (“Standards”) contained in Part I of the Guidelines. Part II contains the Marketing Guidelines. Other than for consistency, the provisions in Part II have not been reassessed or changed from the prior version of the Guidelines.

In addition to providing general guidance and enforceable standards to the industry, the Guidelines are used by DMA’s Committee on Ethical Business Practice Enforcement (“Committee”) as the standard to which data and marketing promotions are held. The Committee is comprised of seasoned marketing professionals who review consumer complaints to ensure industry adherence to these Guidelines.

Because dishonest, misleading, or offensive communications discredit all means of advertising and marketing, observance of these Guidelines by all concerned is expected. All persons involved in data stewardship and marketing should take reasonable steps to encourage industry members, partners, and affiliates to follow these Guidelines as well.

DMA’s Guidelines provide the basis for DMA member compliance for ethical data and marketing practices and compliance primarily under U.S. laws. Global companies should review international rules in addition to U.S. rules. For compliance examples and best practices which may be more specific and illustrative than the baseline Guidelines, please refer to DMA’s guidance and best practice documents. DMA also asks its members to review the Fair Information Practices and Principles (FIPPs). Please send questions or marketing complaints to ethics@thedma.org.

DMA Member Principles

DMA Member Principles (“Principles”) are the underlying framework for the Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice as detailed herein, and for Guidelines that will be drafted in the future. These Principles apply to DMA members’ relationships with current and prospective customers, donors, and members, and are the foundation for all DMA members, which includes those who market not only to consumers, but also to businesses, government agencies, and “SOHO” (small-office/home-office) entities. The Principles provide a general statement to the public of the expectations it can have when dealing with DMA members.

A DMA Member:

  1. Is committed to customer satisfaction, good corporate citizenship, and responsible environmental, community, and financial stewardship.
  2. Clearly, honestly, and accurately represents its products, services, and terms and conditions.
  3. Delivers its products and services as represented.
  4. Communicates in a respectful and courteous manner.
  5. Responds to inquiries and complaints in a constructive, timely way
  6. Maintains appropriate security policies and practices to safeguard data
  7. Provides information on its policies about the transfer of personally identifiable data for marketing
  8. Honors requests not to have personally identifiable data transferred for marketing
  9. Honors requests not to receive future solicitations from the entity
  10. Follows the spirit and letter of the law as well as DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice

Part II: Marketing

DMA Resources

Click here for numerous other resources developed by the Department of Corporate & Social Responsibility.

To report a complaint regarding a marketing practice that may violate these Guidelines.

The DMA Advocacy and Accountability team’s have created an Data Standards 2.0 Overview education module, included in membership and $49 for nonmembers, to get caught up on the latest updates.

DMA’s Department of Corporate & Social Responsibility

In its continuing efforts to improve and advance the practices of marketing and the marketer’s relationship with customers, DMA sponsors several activities through its Department of Corporate & Social Responsibility (CSR):

  • Ethical Guidelines are maintained, updated periodically, and distributed to the data and marketing community.
  • The Committee on Ethical Business Practice Enforcement investigates and examines promotions and practices throughout the data and marketing community that are brought to its attention.
  • The Ethics, Standards, and Guidelines Committee revises the Guidelines as needed, and initiates programs and projects directed toward improved ethical awareness in the data and marketing arena.
  • DMA builds consumer trust in the data and marketing process by offering individual choices online and offline.

www.DMAchoice.org offers consumers assistance in managing their mail and email marketing preferences, and provides consumer education.

www.Aboutads.info provides consumers choices for online behavioral advertising.

For additional information contact DMA’s Accountability Office:

225 Reinekers Lane, Suite 325
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 202.955.0085
Email: ethics@thedma.org

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