Trade Groups Unveil Guidelines for E-Mail


BOSTON Three industry trade groups on Tuesday jointly issued guidelines for the regulation of e-mail marketing.

The guidelines are designed to "defend and enhance the viability of legitimate e-mail marketing," according to a statement from the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers and the Direct Marketing Association.

"In addition to technological innovations and much-needed federal legislation, we are asking advertising agencies to abide by a stringent set of self-regulatory practices for legitimate, responsible and consumer-friendly businesses," said O. Burtch Drake, 4A's president and CEO, in the statement.

The guidelines state that subject lines of marketing e-mails "must be honest and not misleading or deceptive" and contain a valid return address with the sender clearly identified. The groups also insist that consumers should be given "a clear and conspicuous electronic option" to be removed from e-mail lists and they stipulate that "the electronic remove feature must be reliable, functional and prompt."

The acquisition of e-mail addresses through automated mechanisms without consumer consent and the sale and sharing of e-mail addresses to "unrelated third parties" without notice are prohibited.

Marketers have been pressing of late for national e-mail regulations, fearing that confusion could ensue as individual states increasingly attempt to enact potentially contradictory rules.