Latest Postal News, Key to Sponsored Content, and a Data Security Checklist

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David LeDuc, SIIA's senior director, public policy, puts together a quarterly government policy report that is available in SIPA's Member Resources. (Also there you'll find webinar and conference session archives, sample documents, the membership directory and much, much more.)

Here are some highlights from SIIA's Q2 report:

Postal Update

1. Periodical delays. The USPS reported an on-time delivery of 78% for Periodicals for the third quarter of 2015, a decrease of 5% from last year. They point out that 96% of Periodicals are delivered within three days. That leaves 4% being delivered four or more days late. A good number of those may in fact be 7, 8, or more than 9 days late with some never being delivered. Large publications can penetrate deeper in the postal system and avoid processing steps that lead to extended delays in delivery. This is not true for many medium and small publications.

2. Flat rates for 2016. SIPA is advising member companies to prepare for flat rates for 2016.  Usually the USPS increases rates based on the CPI in January of every year. For 2015 they did not due to the uncertainty of when the exigency case ruling would be decided.  Rates were increased in May of this year instead. The only increase set for January 17th, 2016, is Shipping Services products, which includes Priority Mail, Priority Express and a number of other package and parcel services.  These products will average about a 9.5% increase. 

3. Exigent rate status. The exigent rate increase is scheduled to expire in March or April of 2016, in which case rates would decrease by 4.3%. SIPA does not recommend budgeting a 4.3% decrease as Congress could make the increase permanent before then. Hard to say what might occur, but it might take such action to reinstate the increase or possibly the Postal Service might file another exigent rate increase. 

Sponsored content

4. Distinction needs to be clear. "For us, the concern is whether consumers recognize what they're seeing is advertising or not," said Mary Engle, the FTC's associate director of advertising practices, in June. Native advertising, or sponsored content, provides significant opportunities for SIIA members and the broader digital content community.  (Ed Coburn just wrote a good story about this for Mequoda.) However, current industry practices have been under scrutiny, dating back to a workshop held by the FTC in late 2013 exploring the "blurred lines." 

The most important thing is that the FTC is not anti-sponsored content. "Some people I've talked to [think] native is inherently deceptive," Engle said. "I don't agree. I don't think it's inherently deceptive any more than an infomercial is inherently deceptive." SIIA will continue to monitor.

Data security

4. A data security checklist. Data security and breach notification are increasingly critical issues for SIIA/ABM members, as the list of compromised entities grows longer. After reviewing a wide range of existing resources and talking with leading experts, SIIA recommends members review the thorough checklist provided by Experian Data Breach Resolution. Additionally, SIIA is working to schedule a webinar for members in early 2016 where Experian executives will provide further information and take questions.

Privacy and data sharing

5. Supporting data collection. SIIA is a staunch defender against new policies and regulations that seek to limit the collection and use of data, as well as the application of analytics and algorithms, and a strong proponent of the benefits presented by data-driven innovation. SIIA will continue engaging with the Administration, members of Congress and state policymakers as appropriate, across a wide range of proposals. The focus of these proposals ranges from narrow measures proposing to regulate data brokers, to broad, comprehensive proposals to establish a U.S. framework, often referred to as a consumer privacy bill of rights.

Taxation

6. Situation still unclear. The state tax environment of digital information services is very murky.  State policymakers and tax collectors have become increasingly aggressive on this front, either through the creation of new tax laws or policies that modify the application of current tax laws. This is compounded by inherent challenges that companies face as the distinction between products and services is not always entirely clear. On this issue of state taxation of electronic goods and services, SIIA is monitoring developments in various states and localities, particularly in Chicago, where an appeal may be pending. Also look for a future webinar.

Again, check out David's full report here, and the Member Resources page here.

SIPA provides niche publishers and media providers with best practices and trends five days a week through its SIPAlert Daily newsletter. Contact Marija Milivojevic to sign up today. 

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…