What role do standards or best practices play in the mobile marketing industry, and how do we create the best practices by which our industry adheres?
A best practice is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result. Once best practices are determined, commitment is the key to ensuring success in overall adoption and support. Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) members and the mobile industry at large have developed and adhere to the MMA Consumer Best Practices Guidelines (PDF file download) to ensure that as the mobile content market develops, consumers not only have a positive mobile experience but are also treated fairly by all in the value chain.
This column will focus on a case study around the MMA Consumer Best Practices (CBP), which have become the baseline set of rules for the North American mobile marketing industry.
- Who are the players? Most important in establishing best practices is ensuring appropriate representation from the companies and individuals in the ecosystem. Representation is important for knowledge and awareness and to ensure adoption of the guidelines once they’re published. In our latest review of the MMA CBP, development was led by the MMA CBP Committee, chaired by David Oberholzer of Verizon Wireless and composed of 14 member companies from across the value chain. We also held an industry forum (in January 2006) attended by over 80 individuals representing approximately 50 different companies, members and non-members alike. An industry forum was key to ensuring all issues and concerns were addressed. The participants providing feedback represented companies from across North America, including wireless operators, agencies, brands, content providers, aggregators, and technology vendors. Collaboration across industry participants has been an important to the success of the CBP.
- How are best practices prioritized? The March 2006 CBP document features new best practices around chat and affiliate marketing and modified rules for interactive TV. Why these new additions and changes? Bottom line, best practices are focused around industry needs; need from a consumer perspective, carrier communications, or a general area of industry concern. The CBP Committee maintains an ever-growing list of issues to be addressed in the next review.
- How often should guidelines be updated? It’s important to continually evaluate best practices, really a living document, to ensure accuracy and that all industry needs and issues are addressed. The CBP guidelines are reassessed and launched every six months, given the fast pace of growth in the mobile industry. An iterative best practices development process, which progresses in incremental stages, helps maintain focus on manageable additions while ensuring earlier modifications are successful before later stages are launched.
- What happens once the guidelines are published? Once the CBP are published to the industry, each company in the value chain implements them among its staffers. Communication also occurs between each company and its respective vendors to ensure all are advised of guideline changes. Communication is critical to adoption. The best practices are also included in carrier and aggregator contracts and enforced by significant business penalties.
- What role do best practices play in shaping the industry? Best practices help all industry participants know and understand the baseline set of rules that, in turn, ensure consumers are treated fairly and have a positive user experience. All this will ultimately grow the mobile platform as a new business channel.
- What are the next steps? Best practices are a first step in building an industry and really reflect its maturity. Next steps? We must monitor against these best practices to ensure the success and integrity of the mobile content business (as well as adherence to the best practices guidelines). Most carriers and aggregators today perform a version of their own monitoring, with enforcement at the discretion of the carrier. Collectively, the industry is also evaluating a new industry-wide monitoring initiative.
Best practices help ensure a level playing field and consistent consumer expectations in all mobile data services. Best practices are important not only to grow the industry but to ensure a positive consumer experience. Understanding and adhering to industry best practices are key to everyone’s success. Make sure you understand the rules we play by.