The recent appearance of guidelines for mobile marketing from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising completed a welter of recent codes, laws and guidelines applicable to this marketing channel.
Topic: M commerce
Who: The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising
When: March 2003
With an increasing number of advertisers and agencies considering mobile marketing by text/SMS and now MMS, within their promotional mix, the IPA Digital Marketing Group has launched guidelines to ensure IPA members utilise best practices.
The IPA "Guidelines to mobile marketing" were issued on 20 March 2003 with little fanfare and equally little publicity. They are short and to the point and are designed for use by IPA members in connection with either their own campaigns or when working with mobile marketing agencies or mobile network service providers.
The guidelines open with a non-exclusive list of statutes and codes which impose requirements on mobile marketing campaigns. This includes the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999, the Data Protection Act 1998, the ICSTIS Codes of Practice and their Guideline no 20 on reverse billed premium rate SMS as well as the British Codes of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing.
A little strangely, it starts with the topic "Unsubscribe" rather than best practice in building or using a database for the purposes of running a campaign in the first place.
It requires that IPA members offer the target audience of their SMS campaigns the opportunity to unsubscribe from receiving further SMS messages throughout the campaign period. This should be accompanied with the offer of a simple and clear means to place the instruction to unsubscribe. "For guidance," it goes on "allow your target audience to text in the word STOP as an instruction to remove their mobile phone number from the campaign database and to cease the broadcasting of campaign SMS messages to that mobile number".
At a later point in the same section it talks about providing details of how to unsubscribe after every 5th SMS message.
The guidelines then go on to deal with "Opt-in" in a section under that heading. In one part of this it recommends that where mobile numbers are being collected and will be utilised by third parties, the target audience must be provided with a separate opt-in to receive SMS messages from those third parties. For example, recipients should be requested to text "YES" to receive messages from the campaign advertiser and also to text "3rd" as confirmation of their agreement to receive messages from third parties.
The guidelines also make it clear that the intended use of any mobile numbers and data captured is made clear prior to collection either by SMS or using online/offline media.
In the third "Unsolicited messages" section it recommends "avoid sending unsolicited SMS messages to your target audience. Always seek an opt-in with your first SMS message before sending further SMS communications."
So far as minors are concerned it requires database marketers to ensure that verifiable parental consent is collected before the commencement of the relevant campaign.
In the "Premium rate SMS" section there is included a guideline that "where using premium rate SMS as a route to enter a competition, this should be considered as a "payment to enter" and you will therefore need to provide a free means of entry or a skill-based element and an independent judge in order to meet the requirements of the Lotteries and Amusements Acts 1976".
This is correct up to a point, but it is a CAP Code, not a legal requirement that independent judges are used, and the section omits to clarify that where any element of skill is involved in winning a competition, success must as a matter of law depend "to a substantial degree" on the exercise of that skill, regardless of whether the event is pay to enter.
SMS competitions continue to be covered in a separate "SMS competitions and prize draws" section. This requires that "clear and simple means" to request terms and conditions for competitions and prize draws are provided. For example, to text the letters "T&C" is a practical means to request basic terms and conditions in a single SMS message.
Separate sections deal helpfully with topics such as "Creativity and mobile", "Ring tones and logos", "Inbound SMS messages" and "Outbound SMS messages", "Mobile SMS vouchers", "Campaign charges" and "SMS campaign reporting".
A final "SMS data collection" section requires that when collecting personal data by SMS "the party collecting the personal data" should be clearly identified. It might also be mentioned that if the party collecting the data is not actually the "data controller" (the entity which has ultimate control over what is to happen to the data collected) then the data controller should also be identified.
Why this matters:
With (1) the launch just a few days before these guidelines of the new 11th Edition of the CAP code of Advertising, Sales, Promotion and Direct Marketing, with significant new provisions dealing with the SMS marketing and (2) up and coming changes to the laws affecting SMS marketing courtesy of the EU Communications Data Protection Directive, the timing for launch of these guidelines was not perhaps ideal. In the light of these other developments it is likely that before the year is out substantial changes will need to be made. However, in terms of practical tips on content and compliance best practice for mobile marketers, this is certainly helpful and worth a look by mobile marketers outside the IPA membership.