Compliance and Publisher Vetting in Pay-Per-Call

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Why a Trusted Network is Important

Performance marketing is a strategic use of advertising spend that makes sense: affiliates generate leads that they sell to brands who pay for the leads that meet their qualifications. It’s a win-win for both parties involved.

However, once you’ve decided to give performance marketing a try, there are still some factors to consider when working with third-party lead sources like affiliates. National brands and businesses need to ensure they protect their brands and properly mitigate any risks associated with performance marketing.

Choosing the right performance marketing company, specifically a pay-per-call network, is important to limit liability for your business and ensure you receive high-quality calls that are generated in compliance with all applicable marketing and advertising laws and regulations.

Look for a network that uses its own traffic as well as traffic from select trusted and well-vetted publishers who have a proven track record with the types of campaigns you are running.

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Table of Contents

Defining Compliance in Pay-Per-Call

Network Compliance – How Publisher Vetting Works

Defining Compliance in Pay-Per-Call

Why You Need Compliance Measures

In the pay-per-call industry, there are many laws and regulations to be aware of and enforce. Although most of the statutes and restrictions will pertain to the actions of your publishers, advertisers have historically been liable for the acts of their affiliates in certain cases. This means that if one of your publishers violates a federal law while sourcing leads for your campaign, your brand could be held financially responsible.

The penalty for such a violation will depend on the law, the severity of the violation, and the number of violations, but penalties range from a few thousand dollars to millions.

But the financial penalty is only part of the punishment. Brands that violate these regulations face negative press, harm to their public image, and a decrease in brand affinity – the effects of which can last long after the retribution check is signed as customers look to give their business to a more trustworthy competitor in the future.

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Common Laws and Regulations in Pay-Per-Call

The most common laws and regulations you will face in the pay-per-call industry include:

Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Year: 1991

Who It Protects: All national consumers; and those on the national Do-Not-Call Registry

What It Regulates: The TCPA restricts certain telemarketing practices using voice calls, SMS, fax, and auto machine dialing, better known as robocalls, when communicating with consumers.

What This Means for PPC: Outbound call sources cannot contact consumers on the national Do-Not-Call Registry. When businesses are permitted to contact consumers for purposes of telemarketing, businesses must abide by the regulations outlined in this statute, including obtaining and maintaining proper consent records.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Year: 2018

Who It Protects: Residents of California

What It Regulates: Under the CCPA, businesses covered by the act must adhere to certain requirements regarding the collection and sale of consumer personal information.

What This Means for PPC: Publishers who are considered covered businesses under the law must adhere to the regulations in terms of maintaining proper records regarding the sale of any personal information. Publishers must provide a way for California residents to make requests regarding access to, deletion of, and/or opt out from the sale of their personal information.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

Year: 1996

Who It Protects: All United States consumers and health patients

What It Regulates: HIPAA is a federal law that prohibits the disclosure of sensitive patient health information without the patient’s knowledge and consent.

What This Means for PPC: Any sensitive health information that identifies the individual cannot be recorded, transferred to a vendor, or disclosed to an outside source.

Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CANSPAM)

Year: 2003

Who It Protects: United States consumers

What It Regulates: CANSPAM is a federal law that regulates commercial email and messages. Under CANSPAM, commercial emails must provide consumers a way to opt-out of future emails.

What This Means for PPC: Any lead-generation techniques using electronic mail messages must adhere to the rules defined in this act and are strictly prohibited from distributing pornographic content.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

Year: 1999

Who It Protects: Financial customer information

What It Regulates: The GLBA is a federal law that requires financial institutions to disclose how they share and protect their customers’ private information.

What This Means for PPC: Any personal information that identifies the financial consumer cannot be recorded, transferred to a vendor, or disclosed to an outside source.

Federal Trade Commission Act

Year: 1914

Who It Protects: United States commerce and consumers

What It Regulates: The Federal Trade Commission Act prevents unfair and deceptive business practices as well as unfair methods of competition that affect commerce. The FTC can require businesses to pay monetary retribution for any marketing practices that cause harm to consumers.

What This Means for PPC: Marketers must ensure their marketing practices are in line with all the laws enforced by the FTC.

Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR)

Year: 1995

Who It Protects: United States consumers

What It Regulates: The TSR regulates the practices of telemarketers including how many times they can call one number, what information they must disclose, and the payment methods they are able to use.

What This Means for PPC: Publishers that make outbound calls must comply with the rules outlined in the TSR, disclose to consumers that they are a telemarketing company, and never call a consumer who is on the national Do-Not-Call registry.

Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

Year: 1998

Who It Protects: Children under 13 years of age

What It Regulates: The COPPA outlines restrictions for online websites or services that are directed at or collect information from children under 13 years of age.

What This Means for PPC: Publishers that operate a website or application must give parents of children 13 and under the opportunity to consent to their child’s information being collected as well as access to review and delete the information and prevent the future use of their information.

Network Compliance – How Publisher Vetting Works

What is Publisher Vetting

Publisher vetting is used to screen publishers and their lead generation methods before they begin to send call traffic to a campaign. Through publisher vetting, you can ensure that the publishers you work with and their call generation methods are trustworthy and in-line with common laws and regulations as well as meet requirements that are important to your brand.

A thorough publisher vetting process protects:

  • Your business – safeguards your brand from risks of reputational or financial harm caused by fraudulent or non-compliant marketing practices
  • Your investment – ensures you’re paying for quality leads and not receiving fake leads or low-quality calls
  • Your brand – keeps your trademarks and branded keywords safe from third-party advertisers
  • Your customer’s experience – ensures callers are not expecting a promotion or specific price that was promised to them by a publisher

Creating a Rigorous Publisher Vetting Process

By asking pointed screening questions during your publisher vetting process, you will weed out publishers that use marketing methods that do not comply with legal regulations or your brand specifications.

When vetting a new pay-per-call publisher for your campaign, we recommend you do the following:

  • Analyze their call sources – this will tell you if they work with other publishers you should be concerned about or if they generate calls themselves using one method or a variety of methods.
  • Regulate the use of specific marketing distribution – decide what marketing channels you are comfortable with publishers using and prohibit all others; this will tell you which laws and regulations you should be concerned with. For example, if you don’t want to be concerned with CANSPAM, prohibit your publishers from generating calls through email marketing.
  • Specify that you want inbound call traffic only, no transfers – this will eliminate the concern of violating laws that regulate telemarketing and outbound calling.
  • Request creatives before a publisher’s campaign starts – this will let you review the marketing creatives – such as landing pages, ad copy, and images – before the publisher starts to generate traffic, so you can ensure the publisher is not promoting an offer or price you cannot meet or using your trademarks in a way that does not represent your brand well.
  • Prohibit the use of branded bidding – this ensures your publishers will not bid on your brand’s keywords and steal traffic from your brand’s owned landing pages.
  • Continuously monitor call traffic – this will help you keep a pulse on the quality and compliance of your campaign’s call traffic.

You’ll likely want to work with multiple publishers to generate a consistent volume of calls, but conducting a careful vetting process each time you want to onboard a new publisher can get tedious. This is another reason we recommend working with a pay-per-call network.

When you work with a trusted pay-per-call network, they’ll vet publishers for you, so you get the reach of multiple compliant publishers without needing to vet and monitor the network yourself.

How to Know Your Pay-Per-Call Network Is Compliant

When deciding what pay-per-call network you should partner with, be sure to look for a partner that has compliance at the top of their priority list. Here are the questions you should ask to ensure your network has the compliance measures you need to protect your brand and customers:

  1. What compliance and quality assurance measures do you have in place?

A trustworthy pay-per-call network will have a rigorous publisher vetting process and will use a handful of quality assurance techniques such as IVR filtering, call recording, and call transcription to ensure their calls are compliant and meet your goals.

  1. What are your network restrictions?

Most qualified pay-per-call networks have a set of network restrictions that protect their brand partners and define their expectations for their approved publishers. Look for a network that has network restrictions that specify the marketing distribution channels allowed, prohibit outbound calls or transfers, outline the process for approvals for ad creatives, and prohibit branded keyword bidding and incentivized traffic.

  1. Do you generate any call traffic yourself?

Networks that also generate their own call traffic have first-hand experience generating compliant phone calls, and they also have less of a dependence on third-party publishers to generate traffic.

  1. Do you have a team dedicated to ensuring quality calls?

If a network has a rigorous publisher vetting process, they will need a team of pay-per-call experts that conducts that process. Ask not only if they have a customer success team that vets publishers but also how often they listen to calls for quality and compliance.

  1. Do you have any integrations with third-party quality control companies?

Look for a an affiliate or pay-per-call network that has established integrations with quality control focused vendors such as those who focus on running litigation scrubs for calls from known TCPA litigators or services that append data to confirm details about the call.

Download the white paper for the complete checklist:

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Choosing the right pay-per-call network is crucial to limiting your business’s liability and ensuring you receive high-quality calls that are generated in compliance with all laws, regulations, and your brand requirements.

When evaluating your pay-per-call partner, look for a network that has a rigorous publisher vetting process and a proven track record of generating high-quality, compliant calls in your industry.

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