stand-upIt’s easy to ignore the national privacy conversation, confident that your responsible marketing practices are far afield from the “Summer of Snowden” and government spying and law enforcement requests for mobile phone records.

Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes responsible marketing for what it is.  Tonight’s 60 Minutes broadcast (Sunday, March 9th) on the use of marketing data by marketing information service providers (the program calls them “data brokers”), is the most recent reminder that marketers must follow DMA Guidelines for ethical practice.  DMA Board member Bryan Kennedy, CEO of Epsilon, was interviewed in the piece, and despite his efforts and the rich background provided by DMA and other firms, 60 Minutes presented a program that was not balanced, and heavily weighed against our industry.

The media are taking their cue from Congress and the FTC, who are ferociously bent on regulating our industry.   They don’t trust that marketing data used responsibly for marketing purposes is harmless.  They have tried for more than two years to find harm, and despite being unable to do so, they continue to push a policy agenda that will shut down many of the data-driven marketing practices that fuel our data-driven lifestyles.  While they focus on the “data brokers” their policies would impact every business in America – large and small.  In the eyes of many policy makers (and 60 Minutes), we are all “data brokers.”

DMA has managed our industry’s successful self-regulation program for more than four decades, and we will continue to fight on the side of consumer value, transparency in data collection and use, ethical and responsible marketing, and innovation.  Our Ethical Business Guidelines are the backbone of the public trust between consumers and marketers — and your responsible marketing practices are the proof of this industry’s contribution to society and the economy.

Data-driven marketing contributed $156 billion and 675,000 jobs to the 2012 United States economy, according to a recent Value of Data study developed by professors at Harvard Business School and Columbia University.  In fact, the study found that 70% of the value of the data-driven marketing economy – $110 billion in revenue and 478,000 jobs – depends on the ability of firms to exchange data.  This is bigger than the “data brokers.”  This is all of us.   And the winners are consumers, who love their data-driven lifestyles.

It’s time for every responsible marketer to take credit for the good work you do.  DMA is helping, but we need you to participate too.

1.   Be proud and transparent.  Promote how you use marketing data for marketing purposes only, offer choice and give clear notice to customers and prospects.   Highlight your own preference center and DMA consumer services like and  Share our  Know Your Marketing Data consumer infographic with your various audiences.

2. Stand Up for responsible data-driven marketing.   Data is the new gold of our economy, and consumer trust is the currency that makes data-driven marketing effective.  We can’t allow regulators and policy makers to mess with innovation, a $156 billion industry and our data-driven lifestyle.    What we all need is clarity:  A fact based conversation instead of fear-mongering.

  • Consumers love their data-driven lifestyles.  Look at their participation levels as evidence of that love.  Marketers make that happen.
  • Consumers have choices about how marketing data is used, and how marketers interact with them.  They exercise those choices by the millions.
  • Our industry has been trusted and has delivered on that trust for nearly 100 years.

3. Take the lead.  Make sure your team is fully trained in data governance, and that you take a stewardship approach to protecting marketing data (and all data) at your organization.  The marketing organization is the natural lead in this effort – we know our audiences best, and we know the value of data-driven marketing to create meaningful customer engagement and value.

DMA is working on your behalf.   In fact, 60 Minutes recognized DMA as “one of the most powerful lobbying groups in Washington.”  We are constantly working on new Ethical Guidelines around our core principles of notice, choice and transparency.  We are developing additional consumer education programs, as well. We look forward to involving every DMA member in this important effort.







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