DMA draws up web marketing guidelines

The Direct Marketing Association is drawing up 'operating guidelines' for website proprietors and their advertising clients, covering acceptable practices for soliciting customers on the web.

The Direct Marketing Association is drawing up “operating guidelines” for website proprietors and their advertising clients, covering acceptable practices for soliciting customers on the web.

DMA wants InternetNZ (formerly ISOCNZ) to become involved, but DMA chief executive Keith Norris said last week that InternetNZ had shown little interest to date. The parties are now talking again after Computerworld’s involvement.

Norris says the DMA has been speaking with ISOCNZ since the former put together its own code of practice (CoP) on electronic and other forms of direct marketing, published earlier this year. This covers a good deal of ground on email, particularly unsolicited bulk commercial email (spam), but says little about acceptable website devices and layout.

Topics covered are likely to include dissemination of cookies, standards for click-through links and the amount of space occupied by advertising matter on a page, Norris says; but a more detailed list of pertinent matters is some time away.

“I was expecting [InternetNZ] would have their own CoP covering these matters. But that doesn’t seem to be the case,” Norris says.

InternetNZ executive director Sue Leader says there has not been any active consultation between the two bodies, because what DMA was planning seemed highly specific to its industry. InternetNZ gave some help to the DMA/ASA code of practice, on email opt-in and opt-out.

“There was probably a fall-down in communication,” she said last week, and immediately telephoned Norris to set up a meeting on the web proposals.

InternetNZ does have a CoP, but it relates chiefly to interaction between internet service providers and their customers. The only point where it touches on commercial clients’ advertising and marketing practices is in saying ISPs who subscribe to the CoP will “ensure that all advertising complies with Advertising Standards Board guidelines.”

Few ISPs have signed up to the InternetNZ CoP in any case.

One of the reasons InternetNZ felt it might not be able to help was that its own CoP does not touch on the DMA concerns, Leader says. But work will be done on redrafting the CoP, and in an “ISP forum” organised by InternetNZ for October this year, questions on the content and acceptability of the code will, she expects, be thoroughly debated.

Evolution of the DMA web guidelines will not be a high priority, Norris says, and they will probably come out piecemeal. “There will not be a significant document from us [on the topic] in this calendar year.”

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