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BizReport : Research : November 27, 2006

MMA: Restrict Ads to Kids

This morning, revised mobile industry advertising guidelines were released from the Mobile Marketing Association. Among the changes are new rules on marketing to children.

by Kristina Knight

The update to the MMA’s Best Practices calls for industry leaders to follow the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by changing advertising that is targeted to kids and that could be considered inappropriate or misleading.

Other changes include the use of shortcodes that offer discounts to users. The guidelines require that a shortcode – a special number for consumers, usually 5 numbers long – program fees be clearly indicated, noting that charges will appear on wireless bills or be deducted from prepaid balances. Once a user has reached $50 in shortcode fees, opt-ins should be required. Opt-ins would also be required for every additional $25 in shortcode fees.

Viral marketing guides were also updated. The new rules don’t allow viral messages to be automatically forwarded through a user’s contacts or address books. Viral messages are also banned from forwarding messages to a wireless provider’s Internet domain. One user can, however, manually enter another user’s number to receive and forward a message.

The MMA also wants to define “free” in accordance with mobile marketing. They suggest following Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines that require any obligations related to “free” offers be disclosed up front. If a program is free there should not be hidden costs, according to the MMA, which also suggests using words like “bonus” or “complimentary” as alternatives.

Click here to read the entire updated Best Practices guide.

Tags: MMA Best Practices, mobile ads, mobile marketing, mobile text messaging

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