DMA publishes first Bluetooth marketing guidelines

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on March 16, 2009

DMA publishes first Bluetooth marketing guidelines

The UK Direct Marketing Association's (DMA) Mobile Marketing Council has published a set of best practice guidelines for the Bluetooth marketing industry, aiming to provide clarification on the issue of consent when marketing to consumers, as well as to encourage interest in Bluetooth as a marketing channel.

Until recently, it has been assumed by the UK government as well as the country's marketers, that like ordinary mobile phone-based marketing, Bluetooth marketing was covered by the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. However, after a review of those regulations in 2007, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) issued a statement that Bluetooth is exempt from the rules because it does not use a mobile network to broadcast data.

For the DMA, 'mobile marketing' means "the process of marketing campaigns delivered via the mobile medium", which clearly includes Bluetooth and other similar technologies (e.g. NFC - near field communication). The mobile has a number of unique benefits for marketers, such as being nearly always on, almost always present, and messages are almost always read.

But the humble mobile's virtues in dynamically tracking responses, as well as the immediacy of responding to events, are key in making it an ideal channel for direct marketers. Mobile campaigns can encompass acquisition, retention, customer service and customer relationship management. The medium itself offers text messages (SMS), picture/audio messages (MMS) and the mobile internet (WAP), and campaigns can support responses as varied as requests for information, sales promotions, retail footfall generation, and direct revenue-generating sales.

Increasingly, mobile campaigns are being integrated with other media in the marketing mix (most notably online and e-mail). For example a consumer might register their details on a web site and then receive subsequent messages via the mobile channel. The best examples of this integration include applications that are time-specific (e.g. sports alerts or banking alerts) and are therefore required by the user wherever they are, at any time.

However, in creating their marketing campaigns, a number of critical areas must be addressed by marketers. These include the collection of permission from the consumer, any appropriate means of charging the consumer, areas of particular sensitivity (such as age and product type), and technical compatibility. But while there is a wealth of legislative requirements of which marketers must be aware, so far it has all been focused on making and keeping the medium attractive to the consumer.

The next step - that of best practices for a personal, relevant, and sustainable marketing channel - has been addressed by the DMA's new guidelines for Bluetooth marketing, which currently stand in lieu of government regulations. While they hold no legal power, the Direct Marketing Commission (the independent body responsible for monitoring compliance with the DMA Code of Practice) could choose to impose sanctions on member companies found to be in breach of the guidelines.

According to Mark Brill, chairman for the DMA Mobile Marketing Council, "The power of Bluetooth to deliver rich content is widely recognised by marketers. However, until now there has been no formal best practice guidelines produced specifically for the channel. These guidelines draw a distinction between what is legally acceptable and what is true to the principles of permission, as expected by the consumer. We believe that these guidelines will be of practical help to brands and agencies considering using this medium and seeking to navigate the many issues surrounding its use."

The Bluetooth marketing guidelines have been made available for free download from the DMA's web site - click here (PDF document; no registration needed).

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