Mobile Marketers: Self-Regulate With MMA Complaint Process

Remember the AT&T text-spam fiasco, which I said was especially egregious because it seemed the cellular company violated its own opt-in requirements? Well, the Mobile Marketing Association has launched an investigation–thanks to a complaint system that, frankly, is news to me.

If you ever receive a mobile marketing message that you think violates best practices and consumer privacy, click here. This is where you’ll find an MMA email address set aside for complaints, as well as a list of information you should provide when reporting unsolicited or inappropriate mobile marketing messages. The association will consider investigating–and possibly sanctioning–the offending party.

I heard about this MMA process today thanks to ClickZ, which interviewed new Chief Executive Mike Wehrs. One notable excerpt from the ClickZ article: “Complaints about the AT&T and ‘American Idol’ text promotion triggered an MMA probe within two hours. Wehrs contended that no federal regulators would ever respond that quickly.”

And I think that’s why mobile marketing should be as self-regulated as possible. Sure, major laws (such as an equivalent of the U.S. CAN-SPAM statute that applies to commercial email) should be set, if not to let consumers–and marketers–know their basic rights. At the same time, laws can sometimes be over- or under-reaching, or else merely pander to certain fears without offering true protection.

Thus the marketing industry should vigorously stick to agreed best practices, and require compatriots to do the same. We know the space best, we know the benefits best, and we know the detriments best. And like Mr. Wehrs said, law enforcement would never act as quickly as an industry association like the MMA could.

In the short term, I’m looking forward to seeing what comes of the MMA’s investigation into AT&T. More important, though, is how this investigation might help prevent future offensive mobile marketing campaigns.