DMA Launches Enforcement for Online Behavioral Advertising
January 31, 2011 — The Direct Marketing Association announced today that it is beginning enforcement activities to ensure industry compliance with the Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising (the Program), which DMA launched with its association partners in October 2010. The Program gives consumers enhanced notice and choices about the interest-based advertising they receive, and gives businesses a clear road map to compliance with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising that were released in July 2009.
The Program calls for interest-based ads to include an “Advertising Option Icon” that links consumers to information about online behavioral advertising and allows them to make choices about the interest-based ads they receive. Since November 2010, consumers have been able to visit the industry-developed AboutAds Consumer Opt-Out Page to easily opt-out of some or all of the interest-based ads they receive, if they choose.
“We have spent the past few months working hard to educate businesses about the Program and the responsibilities that they have under the Principles,” said Linda Woolley, DMA’s executive vice president of government affairs. “With billions of ad impressions featuring the Advertising Option Icon served already, and dozens of new companies being added to the AboutAds Consumer Opt-Out Page, we are now moving forward with monitoring and enforcement to make sure that businesses are using interest-based advertising responsibly across the entire advertising and marketing ecosystem.”
With more than forty years of experience with effective industry self-regulation, DMA is the clear choice to enforce compliance with the Program. “We will continue to take complaints from consumers, as well as companies who may be concerned that their competitors are not playing fair by complying with the Principles,” said Woolley. “With the addition of monitoring technology, we can now proactively look out for compliance issues across the Internet, and gather evidence to effectively investigate the complaints we receive.”
“It is our goal to ensure that all DMA members are familiar with their responsibilities under the Self-Regulatory Program and have registered to use the Advertising Option Icon and participate in the AboutAds Consumer Opt-Out Page,” Woolley added. “We have been aggressively reaching out to our members to make sure they understand how to comply and we will continue to offer them assistance and education as we move into the enforcement phase of the Program.”
Enforcement activities will extend to both DMA members and non-members. DMA has incorporated the Principles into its Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which all DMA members are required to comply with as a condition of membership. Complaints will be reviewed and investigated by the DMA Corporate Responsibility Team, in conjunction with the DMA Committee on Ethical Business Practice. If a potential violation is found to exist, the company will be contacted and advised on how it can come into full compliance.
“The best possible outcome is turning a bad actor into a good actor, such that consumer trust is restored and businesses are acting responsibly,” Woolley continued. “That is what our process is designed to accomplish.”
Most companies work with DMA to come into compliance during the course of the confidential investigation process. In cases where a company does not cooperate and there is evidence of continued non-compliance, DMA may take action to make the results of an investigation public. For DMA member companies, action might also include censure, suspension, or expulsion from membership. If DMA believes that violations of law may also have occurred – by a member or non-member company – the case will be referred to the appropriate federal or state law enforcement authorities and may also be made public. DMA publishes an annual Ethics Case Report summarizing the findings of the Committee on Ethical Business Practice.
Lawrence M. Kimmel, DMA’s chief executive officer, stated, “We agree with the need for greater consumer understanding and control. Self-regulation provided by industry is more beneficial to consumers than anything the government can recommend or implement, precisely because businesses are able to move more quickly in answering consumer needs than the legislative or regulatory processes ever could. The Program provides the specific “just-in-time” notice and meaningful consumer choice that policymakers have asked for. Businesses want to reach consumers with relevant and useful advertising messages. Marketers depend on data and analytics to serve the right message at the right time, and interest-based advertising makes it possible to bring greater value to potential customers better than ever before. We are committed to helping consumers and will work diligently to foster compliance and accountability across the industry.”
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About Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org) is the leading global trade association of businesses and nonprofit organizations using and supporting multichannel direct marketing tools and techniques. DMA advocates standards for responsible marketing, promotes relevance as the key to reaching consumers with desirable offers, and provides cutting-edge research, education, and networking opportunities to improve results throughout the end-to-end direct marketing process. Founded in 1917, DMA today represents companies from dozens of vertical industries in the US and 48 other nations, including nearly half of the Fortune 100 companies, as well as nonprofit organizations.
In 2010, marketers – commercial and nonprofit – spent $153.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.2% of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately $1.798 trillion in incremental sales. In 2010, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total US gross domestic product. Also in 2010, there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.8 million US jobs.
The Power of Direct: Relevance. Responsibility. Results.
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