U.S. and U.K. Wireless Ad Groups Merge

The U.S.’s leading mobile advertising industry association once again will be taking a new name, following the merger of the New York-based Wireless Advertising Association with a U.K. counterpart, the Wireless Marketing Association.

The resulting Mobile Marketing Association, which will be headquartered in New York, thus combines the WAA’s membership of major technology players, media firms, and advertisers — like DoubleClick, Nokia, AOL Time Warner, Ogilvy Interactive, and Unilever — with the WMA’s similar roster, which includes News International, Freeserve and Lycos UK, drinks manufacturer Diageo, and network operators Orange, BT Cellnet and Vodafone.

As “advertising” is considered a sub-discipline under the larger topic of “marketing,” the new name is meant to reflect “the broader impact of this powerful medium and its increasing value across the marketing mix,” the organization said in a statement.

WAA chairman Bob O’Hare, who is director of business development at Motorola, will continue as chairman of the MMA, while WAA board member Cyriac Roeding, who serves as chief marketing director at wireless ad firm 12Snap AG, will become chairman of the group’s European Committee.

Former WMA chairman and Brainstorm chief executive Steve Wunker will serve as co-chair of the European Committee, along with Comverse’s corporate associate vice president for new business, Booky Oren.

Essentially, however, the merged group will continue where both groups left off. The new MMA aims to consolidate the groups’ efforts and resources in a bid to promote wireless advertising and marketing. That’s going to be accomplished, say the groups, through establishing standards, and continuing to protect consumer privacy.

Still, the merged group will have to clear at least one hurdle. In late 2000, the WAA proposed that its members use “double opt-in” procedures for most wireless marketing messages. But the WMA earlier that year had adopted “opt-out” as its standard.

At any rate, the change comes about a year and a half after the WAA was formed through the merger of the Wireless Ad Council of the Internet Advertising Bureau (now the Interactive Advertising Bureau) and the Wireless Advertising Industry Association. Last spring, a restructuring IAB formally parted ways with the WAA, though the groups continue to have a close relationship.

Despite having had to juggle a lot of acronyms in a short amount of time, WMM leadership said the group’s changes have done some good, in unifying like-minded advocates for the fledgling industry.

“Mobile marketing … is an industry that has already experienced explosive growth rates,” the organization said in a statement, “and in order to continue its expansion we need to work together to create a global self-regulating forum which looks after the interests of both the industry and the consumer.”

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