DMA09: Greco stresses self-regulation of behavioral advertising

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San Diego—The importance of self regulation of Internet advertising and maintaining the health of direct mail via the U.S. postal system were two major themes stressed by John A. Greco, president of the Direct Marketing Association, during Monday's opening keynote address at the association's annual conference and exhibition.

“There is the need for the goodwill of all direct marketing transactions to retain the confidence of public policy-makers and consumers,” Greco said. He cited sentiment among some federal regulatory agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission, to possibly regulate behaviorally targeted advertising and the collection of consumer behavioral data on the Internet, unless the industry manages to regulate itself.

“Since self-regulation is fluid and flexible, it is preferable to fixed laws, which are narrow and absolute,” Greco said. The DMA, he said, will continue to push for the adoption of voluntary principles guiding behavioral advertising, which the association has developed along with the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, among other groups.

Greco also pledged to continue to work with the U.S. Postal Service on developing more flexible pricing programs for direct marketers, similar to the recent Summer Sale program.

Another major concern, he said, are do-not-mail initiatives, which continue to be proposed by consumer advocate groups around the country and which are similar to do-not-call laws that limit telemarketing. Greco said do-not-mail initiatives, should they pass, would threaten the direct-mail industry.

Six do-not-mail initiatives were launched by privacy watchdog groups in four states this year, Greco said. None passed due to DMA efforts, he said, but added that the issue will be of continuing concern into 2010.

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