After frankly discussing some misleading quotes from Consumer Advocacy I wanted to close out my notes on the recent Washington, D.C. FTC workshop I attended by looking towards the future. This is something I’m extremely passionate about, and one of the reasons I am honored to be a Board member of the exciting new LeadsCouncil (www.leadscouncil.com), whose goals are creating new strategies for upholding ethical values and compliance.
At the conference, protecting the consumer Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and distribution of that data was the subtext behind all of the panel discussions. Further, providing transparency on how many times the data will be distributed to the consumer through disclosures is key.
Proposed ways to further protect the consumer:
- Require all providers to meet Initial standards to deliver interested consumers to the client
- Set up disclaimers and privacy policies for the consumer to read and understand.
- Verification pop-ups
- Set up filters to eliminate non-qualified consumer or redirect them if not.
- Set up opportunities to not collect non-qualified leads.
- Set up better lead qualifiers as well as confirmations on submittals
- Verify data through a data clearing house to make sure information is accurate
- Auditing call centers
- Data gathering technology to go and find violators to protect the consumer
My overall impression of what’s to come from the FTC is that if you are…
It’s good to be home from an important recent FTC workshop on online lead generation, which I attended with my Chief Compliance Officer and panelists Greg Gragg and Michael Ferree, two fellow board members of our exciting new LeadsCouncil – that you are invited to join. As a compliance-focused member of the Digital Performance Marketing industry for the past two decades, I very much looked forward to this event. After first breaking down all of the lead generation players and detailing exactly what is important to whom, I turned my eye to some often-misleading quotes from the Consumer Advocacy side of things.
Who doesn’t find some frank feedback useful?
Some classic quotes (and my opinions on what they said) from the Consumer Advocates, many of whom paint the industry with the broad brush of misunderstanding or zealotry:
“If a prospective student submits a lead, they’ll get calls from 100s of schools”. – Not true…well most of the time.
David Halperin – Consumer Advocate Attorney
“In the for-profit school business, they use strippers as recruiters” & “If I were you, I would never enter my phone number anywhere on the Internet.” – I am sure a stripper got a job as an admission rep somewhere, but it is not the norm. Mr. Halperin appeared more interested in making a name for himself with his outrageous statements than finding workable solutions. (more…)
As both a Board member of the exciting new LeadsCouncil (www.leadscouncil.com) and a compliance-minded member of the Digital Performance Marketing industry for the past 20 years, I flew to Washington D.C. this week with my Chief Compliance Officer to attend an FTC workshop on lead generation. We had received notice that the FTC was going to hold a panel discussion on lead generation in the lending and education verticals, and we wanted to attend. LeadsCouncil Board members Greg Gragg and Michael Ferree were both panelists at the event, and the council was also indirectly represented by VP & Head of Compliance, John Henson from Tree.
These types of panels and acceptance of written comment are usually a precursor to enhanced enforcement efforts or proposing additional regulation. Discussions around these events focused on tools and processes that consumers and businesses could use to determine where and how their information was being used as well as the current disclosures, and whether they are enough to protect the consumer. The following is a summary of the topics and issues discussed and topics to think about to improve your business practices:
What is important to the consumer?
- Receiving reliable, accurate information on the products and services they requested.
- Competitively-priced options to ensure consumers get the best price for the best service.
- Expectation that their data and information will be protected.
- To control the flow of communication during the decision-making process.
- Personalized search options to only receive options that meet their criteria.
We’re headed down a brand-new path for our industry – and an especially exciting one. After nearly 20 years in online marketing without an industry advocacy and standards organization, I’m thrilled by the recent formation of the LeadsCouncil.
In effect, the LeadsCouncil symbol will be a seal of approval to help advertisers distinguish the industry leaders, from those other who are less concerned about upholding ethical values and compliance.
It’s a fascinating time to be involved in Digital Marketing.
I’m honored to have been asked to join as both a plank holder and participate on the Board of Directors to help create the policies and standards we hope to apply to all of the current and future members of LeadsCouncil. Our goal is to promote ethical policies and practices, protect consumer rights, advise and lobby the Federal regulatory agencies that police our industry, and develop a set of standards all LeadsCouncil members must adhere to for the benefit of our advertisers and our industry.
I liken it to the perception of the Better Business Bureau. It’s frankly nice to see our industry maturing!
I have always felt that it was important to be proactive in fighting for our rights. Sadly, so many in our industry would rather hide their head in the sand than participate in helping Federal Regulators form policy regarding marketing practices. As an industry, we must take steps to police the “bad actors” and protect the rights of consumers, or someone outside our industry will take steps to do it for us. (more…)
Last week, the LeadsCouncil introduced the new board of industry leaders at LeadsCon New York 2015. In a presentation to the audience at LeadsCon, the LeadsCouncil board shared its plans to chart a new course for the industry and LeadsCouncil members. The plans include a larger role in advocating for the lead generation ecosystem in Washington D.C. and support with the establishment of standards, self-audit, and remediation with both buyer and seller members. During the presentation, the board called for the industry to join LeadsCouncil in forwarding the mission of extending their influence in the rule-making process for the lead-gen ecosystem. Click here to view a video with more details from Board Chairman Gregory Gragg.
The New LeadsCouncil Board of Directors consists of:
- Gregory Gragg, Blue Chair LLC – Board Chairman
- Bruce Cook, Tree.com
- Erik Josowitz, All Web Leads
- Ethan Ewing, Bills.com
- Joe Marinucci, Digital Media Solutions
- Michael Ferree, Anomaly Squared
- Joe Laskowski, Higher Ed Growth
- Cory Smith, Access Intelligence
- Bill Baskin, Epath Digital
LeadsCouncil Mission Statement: To educate and advocate on behalf of the buyers and sellers engaged in all forms of lead generation, ensuring that all participants deliver value and follow ethical as well as federal and state guidelines when conducting their business. (more…)