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Marketer's guide to the new WASPA Code of Conduct

Marketers, brand managers and members of the digital industry need to be aware of the main changes to the WASPA (Wireless Application Service Providers Association) Code of Conduct that comes into effect on 26 August 2014.
WASPA aims to ensure that consumers receive world-class mobile services and that members operate according to ethical and reasonable business practices. As such they have revised their code to be clearer, simpler and to incorporate the most important advertising rules.

So call it a "Dummies" Guide if you will, but I suspect most of us are not going to read the new code in its entirety. Like Friday afternoons, 27 pages of PDF is a good intentions killer.

So for all you busy marketers, brand managers and digital industry professionals, here is a must-read guide to some of the most important changes:
  1. Annoying subscription services
    As anticipated, the section dealing with these has been overhauled for clarity and to align to the MNO (Mobile Network Operators) "Double-Opt-In" process that protects you from being subscribed to services without your permission. (Section 15)

  2. Cell number confirmation

    When a cell number is captured via a web form it has to be proved that it belongs to the person completing the form. This can be done by sending a SMS with a password like an OTP or clicking a unique link from the SMS. No prizes for guessing why this has been added. (Section 12)

  3. Direct marketing

    In a smart move, the sprinkling of sections relating to this have been consolidated and aligned to the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA), the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI). So if you align to the WASPA code, you should be good to go with the various legislations and acts. (Section 16)

  4. Direct marketing times

    Unless agreed otherwise, direct marketing (for example via SMS) cannot be sent on:
    - Sundays, public holidays contemplated in the Public Holidays Act, 1994;
    - Saturdays before 09:00 and after 13:00; and
    - All other days between the hours of 20:00 and 08:00 the following day.
    Sending SMS at inconvenient times gives the industry a bad name. So be nice and think before you send.

  5. Advertising requirements

    This has been defined per type of service, for example to distinguish between pricing information requirements on packaging compared to radio adverts. Advertising is divided into TV and Cinema, Radio, Print, Web and USSD. A must-read for marketers. (Sections 8 to 13)

  6. Competition Terms & Conditions

    WASPA have consolidated these requirements into one section and provided a handy checklist and template you can use to ensure you provide all the necessary details (Section 5)

  7. Pricing information

    You don't need to display entry costs if the cost of entry is free or standard rated. In the past SMS campaigns had "standard rates apply" and USSD services "20c per 20s" tagged below them. I'd still recommend informing entrants though as some consumer segments keep a close eye on their airtime budget.

  8. Opt-Out Keywords

    Carried through from the previous version but still worth mentioning are the five keywords that indicate an opt-out request: 'END', 'CANCEL', 'UNSUBSCRIBE', 'QUIT' or 'STOP'.
If you dabble in the digital industry I would recommend you take the time to read the Code of Conduct in full. WASPA have worked hard to simplify and streamline the new code and you can download it here:

For more information on WASPA, or if you would like to report any SMS spam you have received, please visit

About Alan Haarhoff

Dad, African, Mobile Evangelist, Business Manager @alwaysactive, Grommet Surfer, Newbie Runner, Durban Lifestyle Lover.

Mobile Marketing Association's press office

Mobile Marketing Association
The Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) is the premier global non-profit trade association representing all players in the mobile marketing value chain. With more than 700 member companies globally and 70 members in South Africa.