DMA to Members: Adopt Authentication

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) will require all members to adopt authentication systems for outgoing email, the group’s board of directors decided today.

The organization hasn’t endorsed one specific type of authentication, saying members should be free to choose from among the various options available. Authentication technologies include SPF, Sender-ID and Domain Keys. They all share the same aim of helping email recipients determine who actually sent the message, with the goal of fighting phishing and raising people’s confidence about email.

The NAI’s E-Mail Service Provider Coalition (ESPC) — which comprises companies that send on behalf of marketers — has required members to adopt an authentication solution for more than a year. The DMA’s decision will also impact marketers who handle their email in-house. The DMA’s members, which number more than 4,800, include some of the largest consumer brands in the U.S.

“E-mail authentication protects the integrity of responsible marketers’ brands and improves the likelihood that legitimate email — whether it is a marketing offer, airline ticket confirmation or a financial statement — gets through to its intended recipient,” said DMA president and CEO John Greco, in a statement.

Trevor Hughes, executive director of the ESPC, applauded the DMA’s new requirement. “We think the DMA’s announcement is an important step in moving this just from the email industry to the broader marketing industry,” he told ClickZ News.

All of the major consumer Internet and email service providers check authentication data on incoming email. Microsoft’s Hotmail and Yahoo Mail both have features that let users know whether an email has been authenticated.

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