…Did the heading entice you to read further? I am sorry to say – you haven’t won an Apple IPad – I was only trying to grab your attention to get you to read this blog piece! And this is exactly the type of misleading marketing activity that PhonepayPlus (the UK’s premium rate phone number and service regulator) is ramping up its efforts to stomp out in the Premium Rate Service (PRS) industry. Premium rate services are services that are charged to a customer via their mobile phone bill or deducted from the customer’s pre-paid account.
PhonepayPlus recognises that consumers are being misled by online digital marketing practices into purchasing premium rate goods and services that often they did not want and in some cases they didn’t even realise they were being charged for. Common practices include typosquatting, clickjacking, likejacking, misleading SEM/SEO, misleading banner ads, pop-ups and pop-unders, content-lockers and spam.
In an effort to combat the misleading digital marketing practices in the PRS industry, PhonepayPlus is proposing to introduce guidance (which supports and builds on previous guidance) aimed at PRS providers who use digital tools to promote their services. The Guidance sets out PhonepayPlus’ expectations around specific digital marketing practices in order to meet the requirements of the regulator’s Code (essentially the requirements of transparency, fairness and privacy).
PRS providers who subcontract their digital marketing to third parties are not let off the hook. PhonepayPlus has found that these third parties, who are generally paid on a performance basis, are as a result, often incentivised to mislead and have been behind many of the misleading digital marketing practices it has seen in the PRS markets over the past year. The Guidance strongly reinforces that responsibility for ensuring that digital marketing is compliant with the Code remains with the PRS provider.
The introduction of this Guidance is part of PhonepayPlus’ overall strategy to ramp up its efforts to stomp out these practices, a strategy which has seen an increase in enforcement action including hefty fines for breach of the Code of Practice by PRS providers.
Providers would be unwise to ignore this opportunity to feed into and shape the regulation of the digital marketing practices of their industry. PhonepayPlus’ consultation on this draft Guidance closes on 27 June 2013.