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4As, ANA Team With DMA for E-mail Guidelines

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) announced on Tuesday that it joined two other prominent marketing trade groups in endorsing a set of e-mail guidelines that mostly follow the DMA's spam policy.

The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and Association of National Advertisers (ANA) endorsed the guidelines, which are mostly a compilation of the DMA's own member requirements and its recently unveiled working strategy on spam.

The nine guidelines set out key best practices for e-mail marketing, such as honoring unsubscribe requests; sending mail with honest subject lines; and putting a sender's physical address in the message.

They do not, however, define what constitutes spam.

By winning the endorsement of both the 4As and ANA, the DMA can lay some claim to building industry support for its approach to the spam problem, in particular its narrow definition of spam as fraudulently sent e-mail instead of unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail.

The DMA has come under fire from some e-mail marketers for its refusal to define spam. In fact, the trade group deleted a spam definition from a draft of the e-mail best practices compiled by its independent subsidiary, the Association of Interactive Marketing (AIM). The DMA, after delaying the document's release for months, finally released the e-mail best practices last week.

DMA spokesman Louis Mastria said the DMA saw that three groups shared the same goal: address the spam problem while protecting e-mail as a viable marketing channel.

"We all saw we were pushing for the same thing," he said. "We have to find ways to differentiate legitimate marketers from illegitimate ones, and find ways that are practical."

While the AIM-developed best practices cover the nuts and bolts of responsible e-mail marketing, the guidelines endorsed today are broader principles. The guidelines highlight specific e-mail marketing taboos, such as harvesting e-mail addresses or selling e-mail lists to third parties without notice. They also encourage practices like including privacy policies in commercial e-mail and prominently displaying the sender's brand name in the message.

"This is another practical guidance that tells companies how they should behave in this space," Mastria said.