Ethics Alert Series

Consumers Seek Greater Control Over How Marketing Offers are Communicated

By Lisa Shosteck

ANA Releases 2021 Ethics Compliance Report and Offers Industry Consumer Choice Tools

As we move toward a new normal, we have all noticed shifts in behaviors and trends in how and where we work and live and do business. This includes how we shop and communicate with the providers of our products and services.

How does this shifting attitude and way of life impact marketing to consumers?

We know that there has been a heightened concern from consumers, regulators, and legislators with regards to data and privacy issues. See our latest alert: Privacy It's About the Data! to learn more about what is trending in the industry and what tools and resources the ANA provides to assist you in your compliance efforts and meet consumer expectations.

Part of the consumers' focus on data and privacy issues includes seeking greater control on how marketing offers are being communicated in promotional mail and online display ads. We encourage you to review the latest ANA Annual Ethics Compliance Report, to view the scope and types of complaints we've processed in 2021 at the staff and Committee levels. Learn what consumers are most concerned about, as well as the education, guidance, and tools we provide to both companies and consumers.

Key Takeaways from the ANA Ethics Compliance Report:

ANA Center for Ethical Marketing Department processed nearly 13,000 consumer inquiries: received approximately 10,600 general marketing inquiries and 2,120 online ad inquiries. The top consumer concerns involved honoring consumers' marketing preferences in direct mail offers and online advertising.

Direct Mail Issues:

Consumers are most interested in tools to better manage the promotional mail offers they receive. ANA offers preference services to assist consumers in managing mail, email, and calls.

  • DMAchoice is the most requested tool — provides consumers more control over the promotional prospect mail offers they receive.
  • Additional tools offered for name removal:
    • Caretakers
    • Family members of the deceased

With regards to digital advertising, consumers were most concerned about how to better manage the online ads they received and concerns about online security issues. 60% of the inquiries the ANA received were regarding ads displayed on smartphones (limited display area).

Digital Advertising Issues:

Be sure to check-out the full report for more trends in consumer complaints and cases and to learn which companies were found to be out-of-compliance.

The ANA Center for Ethical Marketing offers a robust accountability toolkit to assist members in meeting consumer expectations:

  • Best Practices, Guidelines, Alerts and Tips for Industry Standards on how to market ethically to consumers
  • Knowledge Sharing Opportunities through ANA Ethics Policy and Ethics Review Committees
  • List Hygiene Tools to help clean your lists and save you money from removing unresponsive consumers and deceased individuals from your prospect mailings
  • Compliance Resources and Efforts to provide accountability and transparency in our self-regulation efforts. Our consumer choice tools have a solid reputation in the marketplace with consumers, regulators, and companies. Since the early 1970s, we've worked with millions of consumers and thousands of companies to honor marketing preferences.

ANA offers several data hygiene/consumer choice tools to assist marketers and fundraisers in respecting consumers' marketing choices, helping the environment and saving money by removing unresponsive consumers and deceased individuals from your prospect promotional campaigns.

Data Hygiene/Consumer Choice Tools:

  Description For Marketers & Fundraisers to Subscribe For Consumers to Register
DMAchoice — Prospect Mail Opt-Out List Consumers who don’t want marketing and donor mail from orgs that they don’t have an existing business relationship. DMAchoice Subscriber File DMAchoice
Deceased Do Not Contact (DDNC) List Permanent opt-outs submitted by friends and family of deceased. DDNC Subscriber File DDNC
Do Not Call Lists for Wyoming and Pennsylvania Residents of WY or PA that have registered on the state do not call lists. ANA is provider of list. Telephone Do Not Call Subscribe Files for Wyoming and Pennsylvania Register for WY or PA State Do Not Call Lists
Email Opt-Out List Consumers who have asked to be removed from unsolicited email promos. Email Opt-Out Subscriber File Email Opt-Out Service

We want to thank the members of our Ethics Committees who help shape, educate, and enforce best practices:

  • ANA Ethics Policy Committee: meets quarterly: knowledge-shares and gets briefed on latest ethical marketing trends, best practices and regulations affecting marketers across the ecosystem.
  • ANA Ethics Review Committee: reviews and recommends actions on marketing and ethics complaints and cases to promote best practices, educate companies and consumers. We appreciate the Committee members efforts and leadership in the casework and contributions to this Ethics Compliance Report. Current members:
    • Jordan Abbott (Chair), Acxiom; Erica Zaragoza, Publishers Clearing House; Dara Winick, American Express; Jackie Kern, Mainstreet; John Tighe, Mastercard; Judy Macior, Experian and Brandy Walsh, LiveRamp

Please contact us if you want to get more involved in ANA ethics issues. If you have questions or concerns regarding a marketing issue, you can view our accountability compliance materials online, and/or you may file an ethics marketing complaint. Please submit the appropriate complaint form and include any relevant supporting documentation or screen shots for our staff and/or our Ethics Committee to review.

Lisa Brown Shosteck | ANA Center for Ethical Marketing


"Consumers Seek Greater Control Over How Marketing Offers are Communicated." ANA, 2022.