DMA's &Then 2016: Day 2 Focuses on Ethics and Relationship Building

DMA unveiled updated guidelines on marketing data usage Tuesday at its &Then conference, and pro basketball legend Kobe Bryant closed out the conference by discussing how teamwork has carried over to his post-NBA business ventures.

A panel of experts, including representatives from DMA and Acxiom, presented the new data standards. According to Emmett O’Keefe, senior vice president of advocacy at DMA, the updated guidelines encourage the "responsible use of data to engage [with] customers" and were developed by a group of experts from DMA's member companies, which examined and edited the existing standards with "a particular focus on how they apply to the ethical use of data."

Xenia Boone, general counsel and senior vice president of accountability and self-regulation at DMA, stressed that last point: "We have this ethical code, and we’re asking both member and non-member organizations that are using direct marketing, all different channels of marketing, fundraising, to adhere to these."

The guidelines offer detailed advice for marketers on everything from how to approach email phishing and unsubscribe issues to how to effectively deliver health-related marketing offers. With regard to privacy, the standards suggest that marketers ensure that their organization's privacy policy is transparent with customers about what personally identifiable information is being collected and why it is being utilized, as well as clearly define the relationship between their brand and consumers.

According to Christopher Oswald, vice president of advocacy at DMA, some of the standards had been around since the '60s and '70s, and they've been edited with specific use case areas in mind—particularly the way the consumption of video content has shifted to a subscription-based model, as well as the rise of the Internet of Things. He emphasized that data should be used "to identify customers and potential customers, and deliver them the right message in a very responsible way that respects their choices," while simultaneously maintaining transparency.

After retiring in April of this year, Kobe Bryant unveiled a venture capital fund, which focuses on providing "strategic, financial, and operational support to entrepreneurs and their companies," with partner Jeff Stibel in August. The pair, who’ve been working together since 2013, have invested in companies such as sports media website The Players’ Tribune and online legal technology company LegalZoom.

Bryant noted several similarities and differences between his current and previous careers, but said that it all comes down to effective relationship building. "Communication and working with groups of people, that's always the most important thing.… When you take guys on a team that [come from] different backgrounds, different parts of the world, [have] different religious beliefs, and put them all in one team…figuring out how to navigate that and speak to the whole, while [also] speaking to the individuals, is the thing that carries over the most."

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