Last week the Federal Trade Commission announced its approval of a "new rule provision under the CAN-SPAM Act," and it was a long time coming—fully 3 years after the Commission first issued the May 2005 discretionary Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that lead up to it.
I'm not going to spend time here going through all the rules and "rulings"—they're relatively straightforward and you can read about them here. Instead, I want to call attention to what I view as the most important victories our industry gained here:
● The FTC preserved the 10 business day opt-out period. In 2005 they had proposed reducing it to only 3 business days.
● The FTC made it easier for marketers to assign a single "Sender" when it comes to "multiple advertiser" campaigns. The perceived "grey area-ness" of law on this issue had been a big concern for many firms.
Concerted industry advocacy—which is so core to the mission of the eec and DMA and their members—played a central role in last week's final outcome. We are also fortunate that the FTC was so open to hearing our views and so interested in learning about the inner-workings of the industry.
More than a hundred of us submitted formal comments to the FTC, and many even met with agency staff to voice our perspectives and concerns about the NPRM in person. And in the official Federal Register notice detailing the new rule provision, the impact of our collaborative efforts is apparent throughout. See for example, on page 81, where the Commission notes:
…the time period for processing opt-out requests required by legitimate commercial emailers varies, and often exceeds three business days depending upon a number of factors, including the size of the business, the existence of third-party marketing agreements, and the maintenance of multiple email databases.
Approximately 100 commenters addressed the issue of whether the period for opt-out compliance should be reduced. The vast majority—over 85%—opposed reducing the time frame to less than 10 business days.
Bottom line: Your voice can and does need to be heard to ensure that the email marketing landscape continues to grow and prosper—and that your consumers have the best possible email experiences when doing business with your brands.
The FTC may have issued the last of its CAN-SPAM rules but the members of the eec have a lot more advocating to do. We need to get more ISPs up-and-running with authentication, accreditation and reputation protocols. We need more "unsub" buttons and feedback loops.
My co-chair Robb Walters of Costco Wholesale and I would love to hear your thoughts. What else do we need, and what do you think it will take for us to get there? Comment here or email us, and stay tuned for information about our next Advocacy Roundtable meeting.
—eec Advocacy Roundtable co-chair Jordan Cohen of Goodmail Systems