Do the DMA’s New Rules Matter?

Data and marketing have become major buzzwords in the marketing world. Still, both data collection and marketing are essential parts of how people do business. That said, comparative lack of regulation in the United States is not quite the same as it is over in Europe.

While American marketers have long run under a self-regulatory marketing system, meaning there is far fewer restrictions on data collection, Europeans have a much heavier guiding hand to work along to.

American companies choose, but aren’t required, to abide by what is known as the Data & Marketing Association, or the DMA. The primary reason for the DMA being around in the first place is to serve as a kind of guiding hand to help companies have a good idea of what is and is not ethical.

The DMA recently updated their rules. Some of the latest changes they have included are:

  • A change to how consumers are notified or given the choice of their data being used. Now, when companies want to combine consumer data with any digital identifier for marketing purposes, it has to be made clear and easily opted out from.
  • Clearer indications on how consumers’ data is collected and then used by the Internet of Things for marketing purposes. This makes it clear on how information is collected and then used and ratified cross-device.
  • Improved innovations to ensure that the rules in general better reflect the marketing and data collection world as it is today. With the rate of change, the original DMA standards were rapidly out-of-date.

Does it matter?

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As of right now, those who wish to be a bit more whimsical with the rules will be happy to know that the DMA holds no legal authority. They can’t lock anybody up, or stop brands from advertising. But the government can, and businesses don’t want that. That is where the DMA’s power lies – to keep out the government (if you listen closely, you can hear them chanting, “USA…USA…”).

By making sure government does not have to get in the way, the DMA serves as a starting point for companies that want to be as ethical as they can. Part of the reason that companies abide by the DMA standards is because, believe it or not, people actually consider a brand’s ethics in today’s world (scary, huh).

On top of that, if the government determines people’s rights are being violated, all it takes is one piece of legislation to wipe out an entire industry (data brokerage). This puts businesses in a constant state of proving themselves to the government, the public and lobbyists alike, that they can responsible handle personal information.

While failing to comply with it is likely to have a reputational hit for the business (Equifax), it need not always be that way. Given that they are by no means enforced, it means that these guidelines are nothing more than that: guidelines.

It does, though, appear to be broadly effective with most European websites being rather clear about how data is being collected and used. In America, you don’t always see that sort of thing. It’ll be interesting to see how to US balances consumer vs. marketer preferences in the coming years of digital marketing’s emerging innovation.

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