Emmett O’Keefe is DMA’s SVP of Advocacy.

Emmett OKeefe ThumbnailAll Data & Marketing Association members share a vested interest in using data responsibly to build lasting relationships with customers or donors based on truth, results and trust. Without the trust of consumers, marketing would become completely ineffective. Therefore, it is critical to secure and nurture that consumer trust.

DMA works to maintain the trusted environment in which marketers work by overseeing and enforcing the Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, to guide marketers to responsibly and respectfully use data to enhance efficiency, convenience and value for customers or donors. Countless lawmakers with responsibility for guiding our federal laws relating to marketing, such as the FTC’s Acting Chairman Maureen Ohlhausen have recognized and reinforced the merits of industry self-regulation.

For more than 60 years, DMA has shaped its industry guidelines with constant input from leading-edge practitioners, taking into account the latest technologies and techniques. Here are just a few recent and significant steps the data and marketing industry at large has taken to keep consumers secure while allowing companies to continue to responsibly innovate:

Empowering Consumers with Interest-Based Advertising Controls

In 2010, DMA helped to found the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA), an organization that has lead the effort to educate consumers and provide a uniform method for those that want to opt–out of interest-based advertising. DMA is proud to hold a seat on DAA’s Board of Directors and serve as one of the two enforcement bodies for the organization.

Last week, DAA unveiled new consumer choice tools which allow individuals to set preferences for digital advertising data collection and use. In addition to an enhanced user experience, the tools will allow companies to disclose both cookie-based and non-cookie technologies for interest-based advertising. The improvements “provide increased transparency into emerging data practices, regardless of technology,” according to DAA’s Executive Director Lou Mastria.

In addition to vital tools for consumers, DAA has also kept their rules up to date as they relate to shifting trends in technology, including the multiple connected devices consumers use on a daily basis. In February, DAA’s guidance on cross-device data went into effect after a thorough process of industry discussion and review. DMA hosted an educational webinar on these rules, and consumers can now share their concerns with DMA about these types of ads.

We are pleased to report that the DAA effort to update the guidelines regarding cross-device issues was recently cited by the FTC in a staff report released in January. The report commended these “self-regulatory efforts to improve transparency and choice in the cross-device tracking space … keep[ing] up with evolving technologies and provid[ing] important guidance to their members and the public. Their work has improved the level of consumer protection in the marketplace.”

In its enforcement role, DMA is now on the lookout for compliance with these guidelines as part of its self-regulatory efforts. These principles apply to all companies engaged in interest-based advertising (IBA) and multi-site, cross-app data collection for covered activity.

A Comprehensive Update to DMA’s Data Guidelines

As technology rapidly advances and is adopted by consumers in the marketplace, innovative marketers look at how best to use this tech to nurture relationships with their customers and DMA is actively updating its data & marketing industry self-regulatory guidelines to incorporate these changes and to set the standard for what constitutes responsible marketing.

Our latest effort in this regard is the DMA Data Standards 2.0 initiative which kicked off last year with a presentation at the largest U.S. data & marketing event for the industry – DMA’s &THEN. This effort was introduced by Sheila Colclasure, Global Executive for Privacy and Public Policy for Acxiom:

The latest iteration of these data & marketing standards will update DMA’s existing Guidelines and ensure they are relevant for today’s data practices and in sync with modern consumers’ high expectations.

As new tools and rules are developed, DMA remains vigilant to ensure consumer awareness and choice are protected across marketing channels. In the meantime, DMA’s Guidelines are continually enforced through a consumer complaint and industry investigation process. If consumers are concerned about industry marketing practices, they are encouraged to contact DMA’s Compliance team at ethics@thedma.org or by filing an ethics complaint on DMA’s website.

Data & Marketing practitioners continually strive to identify better ways to serve their customers and donors. These tools and processes increase transparency and are designed to ensure consumers that their data are being leveraged responsibly for their own benefit. Consumers already understand the value of the ad-supported internet, assigning a value of nearly $1,200 per person per year to the ad-supported digital content that they enjoy. Data & Marketing Association members seek to increase that value as they responsibly use data to identify and fulfill their customers’ and donors’ needs.

Additional DMA Resources on Data Policy and Self-Regulation