This Q&A series aims to highlight the value of data-driven marketing to consumers and brands. If you have an idea for a question, or would like to be featured, please contact the editor.
Q: Why does industry self-regulation work better than government regulation to protect consumer interests?

A: Because self-regulation protects consumers and businesses without stifling innovation or hampering the economy.

1. Self-Regulation promotes innovation. Consumers love their data-driven lifestyles, as evidenced by their high participation levels in every aspect of e-commerce. Marketers make that happen. Restrictive legislation would kill off the innovative aspects of data-driven marketing, such as cutting-edge customer service, rewards, preferences, relationships, and ever-greater relevance. DMA and its members work every day to ensure that self-regulation fosters innovation while protecting and providing great value to consumers.

2. Self-regulation is nimble. Unlike legislation, which is static and runs the risk of codifying practices that may become out-of-date even before a bill turns into law, industry self-regulation is nimble by its very nature and better suited to provide protections in cutting-edge, fast-evolving areas like big data analytics.

3. Safeguards are already in place. In fact, the remarkable growth of the Data-Driven Marketing Economy is due in part to the robust framework of sectoral laws and self-regulatory protections that already apply to the use of big data for marketing purposes. And for more than forty years, DMA has promulgated and enforced its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which guide marketers in the responsible collection and use of data for marketing purposes.

4. Consumers have choices. Through DMAchoice, consumers exercise their preferences about the mail they receive, and through the AdChoices icon, consumers can choose to opt out of any or all behavioral advertising.

5. Self-regulation is in the best interest of both marketers and consumers. Marketers work daily to serve the individual consumer by delivering relevance and honoring their choices. By abiding by self-regulatory guidelines, and using consumer data responsibly, marketers earn consumers’ trust – and consumers in turn, derive the greatest value.

6. Self-regulation works. Marketers have engaged in the responsible collection and use of data for marketing purposes for more than 100 years. When all is said and done, marketers are the best stewards of marketing data out there, using it responsibly to maintain excellent customer service while honoring individual customer preferences.

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