MMA U.S. Best Practices Forum

The Mobile Marketing Association held their annual U.S. Best Practices Forum yesterday in Denver and I was one of the wide cross section of mobile industry professionals in attendance. The mission of the meeting was to get input into our industry’s best practices for the committee in charge of updating the MMA Best Practices and Guidelines (CBP) document. The committee begins today to work on updating it for the next revision.

This document is updated twice a year – in June and December. There are significant changes, updates, and additions with each version. It is not a read-it-once-and-forget-it document. Make sure you get the latest version and read it front to back each time. It’s important.

Yesterday’s meeting was dominated by talk of SMS. The tone was set with one of the first sessions in the morning given by Nick Macilveen from Open Market who explained in detail each step of the process of getting a short code program built, approved, provisioned and launched. It reminded me of biology when we learned the precise elements that have to be in place for human reproduction to take place. In both cases it is clearly a miracle to make it happen. And the role of an aggregator in a successful SMS campaign became obvious. Aggregators are our biggest ally in this process.

A huge discussion followed after Mike Altschul of CTIA presented the plan of attack for CTIA to take over the media monitoring of short code programs. The wireless association is going to begin to monitor every short code campaign to check for compliance with the MMA Best Practices and each individual carrier’s requirements. CTIA will eventually (no specific timeline was given but in one carrier’s estimation it seemed it could be as early as 2 months) become the entity responsible for all monitoring and sending audit reports.

An even bigger discussion ensued about enforcing compliance with the CBP and carrier requirements. Sentiment was high about making sure that everyone working in the mobile space be held to the standards that are set forth and that consequences be commiserate with offenses. It was also very clear that way too much time is being spent by both carriers and businesses dealing with audit reports. Hopefully the CTIA media monitoring efforts will help with all of this but no one, including CTIA, is holding their breath for that just yet.

Alan Chappell of Chappell & Associates gave a very informative talk about privacy and pointed out that as our revenue increases so will scrutiny from consumers and regulators. Timely evidence of this was the complaint filed by The Center for Digital Democracy and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group calling for an inquiry and injunctive relief concerning unfair and deceptive mobile marketing practices. The new President of the MMA, Mike Wehrs, spent the day doing media interviews about the complaint.

Another hot potato topic was affiliate marketing which accounts for 70-80% of some businesses revenue but may also be cause for a similarly high number of complaints and returns. It is obvious that businesses must maintain a close eye on their affiliates because their actions which may cause customer care requests to go up with the carriers will put the business at risk. It was pointed out by one carrier that when customers of theirs lessened their focus on affiliates that their refund rates and care calls went down significantly. The carrier representative did not say whether or not the overall profitability of the business went up or not.

Additional presentations were made about Word of Mouth / Viral marketing, User Generated Content, and Marketing Online. Universally, each person who presented their committee’s mission and outlined their course of action for the coming year made it clear they are seeking more MMA members to join their committees. To find out about joining a committee

The day was wrapped up with an open forum. During this discussion it was made a priority for the committee to separate standard messaging from premium messaging in the new Best Practices and Guidelines. Michael Becker of iLoopMobile suggested that at future meetings we work to focus more on the Best Practices part and less on the Guidelines. After spending a whole day talking about rules and compliance it was a breath of fresh air to start thinking again about the power and potential of mobile marketing.