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Direct Response Marketing

DMA Takes DC by Storm

20 Mar, 2013 By: Doug McPherson

WASHINGTON – The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) took Washington by storm last week with its DMA in DC 2013 conference spreading the good word about policy affecting data-driven marketers.

DMA President and CEO Linda A. Woolley kicked off the event (which was sponsored, in part, by Response Magazine) telling the hundreds gathered that responsible marketing practices “benefit both consumers and the economy, as our lives become increasingly data-driven. Never before in my time in government affairs have I seen so much attention on the issues that affect data-driven marketers.”

The three-day event featured a stellar line up of speakers, seminars and meetings with lawmakers. Among the speakers and their respective messages were:

  • Federal Trade Commissioner Julie Brill said the FTC and industry shared the same aim: ”A vibrant and innovative online and mobile marketplace fueled by the responsible use of consumer data. We are all committed to working as hard as it takes to get there.” But she added, “We are going after the players that treat sensitive data sloppily; that collect information from children without their parent’s consent; or that engage in deceptive or unfair practices regarding the extent to which they are tracking consumers.” Brill outlined the FTC’s new Dot-com Disclosure Guides announced last week. ”The main principles … are no different than the principles that underlie our efforts to protect consumer privacy – and market integrity and viability – in the mobile space. Consumer protection laws that apply to commercial activities in traditional media apply equally online, including in the mobile environment. That means that when information is needed to prevent a claim from being deceptive or unfair, the advertiser should, when practical, incorporate relevant limitations and qualifying information into the underlying claim, rather than having a separate disclosure.”
  • Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler, also president of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) who’s well-versed on privacy issues in the digital age, is actively working on issues in Maryland around geo-location tracking, data collection, mobile privacy and children’s privacy. He said the biggest issue attorneys general tackle relates to online purchases: ”When a human being buys a product, what happens to their information, and do they know? Is there a privacy policy accessible to them?”

Some session highlights include:

  • Washington and Beyond: Perspectives from DMA’s Government Affairs Team. DMA officials outlined the privacy, data access and reform issues that DMA tracks and builds coalitions around. Key among these was the FTC’s expansive definition of the term “data broker.” “More and more, government is considering every data-driven marketer and fundraiser to be a ‘data broker’ – the definition of which includes anyone who collects, uses, aggregates, takes in, or shares data with any third party,” said Rachel Nyswander Thomas, DMA’s vice president of government affairs. ”If you do any of those things, you may be a data broker in the eyes of legislators and regulators.”
  • The Data-Driven Way of Life: Threats and Solutions. This panel addressed how marketing data, used for marketing purposes, has an impact to our data driven way of life. “In some ways, we’ve been victims of our own success – consumers and donors have loved what our industry provides and haven’t asked us to explain how it all works on the back end,” Nyswander Thomas said. “Congress is now paying attention to us. This is an opportunity to educate about how our industry works, the great things it provides to consumers and the economy, and the important work you all do to ensure that you are acting as responsible stewards of consumer data.”
  • Does ‘Do Not Track’ Still Matter? “Do not track still matters, and it is crucial that we come up with an agreed way to make it very clear the conditions under which we would all honor a Do Not Track signal when consumers choose to be anonymous,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, senior staffer with the Center for Democracy and Technology. And Stu Ingis, partner at Venable, LLP, said the DMA and the industry have had a “Do Not Track” standard for years in its guidelines. ”In addition, more than a year ago, we launched the Digital Adverting Alliance (DAA) to give consumers notice and choice about how their data is used in advertising. I think we’ve solved the problem, and the current legislative push is just a solution in search of a problem. The DAA icon may be the most prominent real estate on the Internet.”

The conference also included a day of meetings with the congressional offices leading the debate over consumer data use, postal reform, preserving the charitable tax deduction and more. DMA reps visited the offices of: Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Dick Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Michael Enzi (R-WY), Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA), Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL).

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