The German direct marketers association DDV has put in new self regulation that goes a few steps beyond what is standard in most countries: a double opt-in and the names of sponsors to an action have to be revealed. Let’s take a look at what is the challenge here.
Spam as nuisance
Advertisements may be as old as the road to Rome, but as soon as it stopped coming through the mailbox of our homes, we all got very annoyed with our e-mail boxes clogging up with unsolicited adds (and phone calls at dinner time for that matter). So fairly early in the process, by regulatory standards, anti-spam legislation was put in place. The EU opted for opt-in, i.e. explicit consent. In my opinion the only logical choice. Opt-out, i.e. unsubscribe from e-mails, only leads to confusion and abuse.
Some countries fought spam vigorously, some did something, others nothing, even denying they have a spam problem. As long as it is impossible to file complaints, a government can always deny the problem. In the countries that made a difference identifiable own language spam went down considerably. It forced former spammers to alter their ways. They do not want to be associated with investigations, (potential) fines and bad publicity. It forced the direct marketers to alter their modus operandi, to cater to the needs of their customers, whether a multi national or your local butcher.
Spam as the basis of all evil
We all know that the main focus of law enforcement is no longer with just spam as a bad way of advertising, but about spam fighting linked to crime in whatever form. It’s the criminal economy, stupid, to paraphrase a famous person. This group will never adhere to whatever law. I leave that topic here and return to advertising, as it is the challenge for direct marketers to distinguish itself from the criminal spammers.
Legitimate senders sending legitimate advertisements
So the challenge for all parties concerned is: how do consented commercial messages get sent to the end user without being intercepted in spam filters as unsolicited? One of the answers is in becoming trust worthy partners. The German DDV gives a good example of this by stepping up self regulation. But, there is more to this challenge.
Want to know more?
If you are interested to hear my ideas on this, send me a message and we can get into contact and discuss them.
Here’s the link to the Emerce post on DDV (in Dutch).
Wout de Natris, De Natris Consult
Leiderdorp, 23 March 2011