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Email and text advertising targeted by code of practice

New media marketing comes under new rules from Advertising Standards Authority

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has today launched the latest version of its code of advertising practice, which has been extended to cover email and text message campaigns.

The code, which comes into force today, acts as a rule book for all non broadcast, advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications. For the first time it will be extended to cover new media, including website pop up and banner advertising, email and SMS marketing.

The new regulations state that any unsolicited marketing emails must state their nature in the subject line, without the need to open up the message. The other new rule that specifically targets new media, requires companies to get the explicit consent of recipients before they send out marketing messages via email or text.

This rule applies to new customers only, as companies can still send out similar offers to their existing customers. But the code states that they must give customers the right to refuse all future messages of this type, each time they send out a message.

The code only applies to messages originating in the UK, but the ASA says that it has cross border complaint agreements with all the countries that are part of the European Advertising Standards Authority, as well as with other similar bodies around the world. This should ensure that any message originating in member countries will abide by the code.

In those countries where there is no cross border complaint agreement, the ASA says it will take all actions possible to stop its rules from being broken. "We may need to approach the ISP to get [the marketing communication] stopped that way, or liaise with the data protection commissioner or the Office of Fair Trading", explains ASA press officer Donna Mitchell.

The full code can be viewed here, while complaints should be made to the ASA, which can be contacted on 020 7580 5555.

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