Mobile Marketing Association Updates Code of Conduct

As the mobile market matures, the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) continues to work to improve the industry. The association yesterday updated its code of conduct, and this time issued the document globally rather than to the U.S. and Western Europe, as it’s done since the document’s creation in 2003.

The MMA’s code of conduct now covers the U.S., Asia Pacific, Latin America, and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Last year, the MMA released guidelines for the Middle East and Africa. This latest document follows a similar approach, but has been expanded to cover the MMA’s global membership.

Mobile marketing is just coming online in some developing nations, according to Laura Marriott, president of the MMA. “Mobile marketing is not as advanced in other markets as in the U.S. and Western Europe. In Asia, Korea and Japan excluded, mobile marketing is just beginning, the code is coming out at just the right time,” she said. Plus, she said, mobile display and push advertising is beginning to take off in China.

The Global Code of Conduct will shape the way mobile marketing is practiced, and is designed to protect consumers, in developing markets, she said.

The guidelines are well received from members of the mobile community. Cellufun, an MMA member, appreciates the MMA’s initiative.

“Everything is so new from a consumer standpoint, anything that positively impacts a consumer to mobile marketing is going to be a boon to us in any form of business,” said Keith Katz, VP of marketing at Cellufun. “These things, if followed, might get a consumer who sticks around to become a money-producing consumer for a long time.” On the contrary, a consumer with a bad experience will be discouraged from any continued business.

Guidelines discussed in the document apparently mirror other commonly accepted best practices involving privacy, e-mail marketing, and Web advertising.

“Some of the participants involved in writing the rules are the same individuals involved writing privacy policy of other media,” said Marriott. That includes the chief privacy officer of Proctor & Gamble. “We’ve learned our lesson, we’ve created a tight set of rules,” Marriott said.

The mobile marketing industry, she said, learned from missteps that other interactive marketers have made involving privacy breaches, spam, and so on. By having people familiar with those issues draft the mobile guidelines, Marriott believes mobile marketers will avoid the traps that others fell into in the Web’s earlier days.

The rules include a set of five categories: notice, choice and consent, customization and constraint, security, and enforcement and accountability. These guidelines are a modification of the 2007 code, which were released to U.S. and European members. The documents were updated on the MMA Web site, and the MMA didn’t specify what was revised from the previous year — except that the new guidelines address the global market.

To go global didn’t require too much effort. “It’s not as difficult as one would expect, globally you want to put the consumers right to choose first and foremost. So things like protecting the consumer privacy and information, the consumer’s right to opt-in and push information. It’s really a lot simpler than you could imagine,” Marriott said.

The enforcement and accountability category mentions eventual monitoring by a third party. The governing party has not been designated. “That’s going to be very country-by-country specific,” said Marriott.

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