Marketers to self-regulate under new ADMA Code

By Lucy Carroll | 9 October 2015
ADMA chief executive, Jodie Sangster.

ADMA has today launched its new Code of Practice aimed at boosting self-regulation in the marketing industry, following changes to the Privacy Act earlier this year.

The new code – which is a complete replacement of the 2006 guidelines - will see a broader approach that allows marketers and advertisers flexibility, but puts responsibility back on organisations in order to try and avoid tough legislative intervention enforced in the US and Europe.

The latest changes to the Privacy Act, which impact mandatory data retention, collection and security, mean there are now greater threats to personal digital privacy, while marketers face an increasingly complex regulatory system.

“There is an absolute requirement to act ethically, and those who do so and put the customer first will win,” ADMA chief executive Jodie Sangster said.

“Our new code will help with compliance and provide the guidance they need to make good choices in a fluid, data-driven ecosystem.”

As the use of newer marketing channels such as mobile, digital and social accelerates, Sangster said there is a greater responsibility on marketers to be seen as transparent, ethical and honest.

Under the previous code - which went into extensive detail about marketing claims (including misleading conduct, claims and incentives), mobile marketing (restrictions around how location-based marketing messages can be sent) and data protection, (including use and supply of third party contacts) - members were subject to distinct boundaries.

The new code adopts a “flexible and agile” approach under broad principles of using data responsibly, providing choice, promoting fairness, encouraging transparency and valuing honesty and safety.

Instead, it requires members to “consider the target audience when scheduling the delivery of commercial communications by whatever channel” and “when using data from third parties, they must satisfy themselves it has been properly sourced, permissioned and cleaned.”

“We have taken a ‘media-agnostic’ approach,” Sangster said. “Members need to put the consumers’ interests first, perfectly aligning self-regulation with the culture of customer-centric marketing.”

The new code is designed to protect the industry in order to avoid “innovation-killing and industry-stifling intervention,” ADMA said in a statement. “Legislation rarely evolves at the same pace as the industry it seeks to regulate, so customer-centric self-regulation becomes imperative.”

“Ultimately, what we are striving for is greater consumer trust and confidence in the integrity of our members,” Sangster said. “Consumers should be reassured by the fact that compliance with the code is mandatory for members and that if something does go wrong there is an independent, no-cost, expedient avenue for resolution through the Code Authority.

"Ultimately, not only does the code represent a win for consumers but it contributes to the commercial growth and corporate sustainability of our members."

The ADMA Code Authority, which has seven consumer and industry representatives, oversees the guidelines and is responsible for recommending penalties or sanctions for breaches of the code.

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