Trend: Mobile "spam"lawsuits

Mobile content company Distributive Networks settled a class action lawsuit, which claimed that upwards to 1,000 mobile phone users received unwanted text messages from Distributive's content providers. The settlement grants each of the affected mobile users upwards of $150. Distributive did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement. The affected users received the unwanted text messages during several months spanning late 2005 and early 2006. Edelson, the law firm that filed the suit, has five similar suits pending against some of the major companies in the mobile content industry. Looks like all the mobile marketing hype and pomp of last year will translate into some user backlash in 2007.

Julie Ask, research director and senior analyst at Jupiter Research provided Fierce with some mobile spam stats: In 2003 and 2004 six percent of adults reported unwanted text messages. The following year saw a rise in mobile spam: Nine percent of adult mobile users reported unwanted mobile messages. Ask added that she does not believe there is a lot of mobile spam out there, and the last time she received mobile spam was two years ago. The Mobile Marketing Association has done a fine job of setting guidelines for mobile marketers and Ask believes the major brands, like Coca-Cola, McDonald's and others have taken them seriously. Indeed, Ask believes many of those brands are under-utilizing their lists.

Laura Marriott, Executive Director of the Mobile Marketing Association, said in a statement: "The MMA is committed to its Consumer Best Practices (CBP) Guidelines which set the foundation rules for the mobile channel and ensure all constituents deliver a consumer friendly experience…  [the] guidelines also define consumer opt-in rules which empower consumer interaction and engagement with marketers (consumer pull based marketing) and discourage the use of third party lists (push based marketing).  All members of the MMA must adhere to these baseline set of guidelines."

For more on the mobile spam lawsuits:
- see this copy of the suit against Distributive Networks