On Nov 1st, with feedback from the industry, the CTIA released a new Short Code Monitoring Handbook which governs the approval and audit standards of short codes and the advertising of short code campaigns. Whether you have a short code in market or you are considering registering a code there are a number of key changes that all brands should be aware of. Here are a few that I feel are pretty substantial.

CTIA Short Code Monitoring Handbook v1.4.1

1) Brands can now provide a generic ‘recurring’ message frequency disclosure instead of an exact frequency of messages when they opt a customer into a campaign. A number of brands face lawsuits because the CTIA guidelines had previously required an exact frequency of messages to be disclosed and some of these companies delivered slightly more than their stated frequency. To prevent lawsuits, conservative brands started disclosing frequencies 10 times that of what they would actually send to be on the safe side. For example a brand might have disclosed 30/month when in fact they sent 1/week. This previous compliance policy created a bad customer experience and significantly more liability for both brands and marketing service providers. With the recent change to the rules a brand can simply state that the messages are ‘recurring’. I believe this is a fantastic improvement for both customers and brands because it removes liability, makes the opt-in advertising more accurate, and allows more flexibility and personalization with each campaign based on appropriateness rather than some arbitrary message limit.

2) “Message & Data Rates May apply” is no longer required in the “Opt-in Message”. It is now only required in the “Confirmation Message” and in the “Advertising Disclosures”. This is a great benefit as well. Brands will now have more characters to describe what the customer is signing up for in the very first message. In the past, since there had been so many required discloses in the Opt-in Message, a brand would hardly have much room for their own text. It made for a poor customer experience and likely lowered opt-in rates.

3) “Reply STOP to opt-out” is no longer required in the ongoing message flow as long as it is provided at least once a month in a service message or within content delivered. Customers will no longer wonder why the brand is telling them to opt-out in every message they receive. This was obviously an awkward requirement for both customers and brands. Not to mention it took valuable space in each message.

4) “Reply STOP to opt-out” is no longer required to be disclosed in the “Advertising Disclosures” as long as it is in BOLD letters in the Terms and Conditions page. The Reply STOP to opt-out requirement was always awkward for advertisers who wondered why we would provide opt-out instructions IN ADVERTISING to someone who had not yet opted-in.

5) No more shared short code restrictions on Point of Sale vendors. This will enable small and medium sized businesses to afford to SMS message their customers. While there are additional compliance requirements for Point of Sale call-to-actions by the FCC, this CTIA rule will help open up text messaging to SMBs who cannot afford $500/month to lease their own short code.

Great job CTIA.