POPIA Q&A: What is Direct Marketing?

Are messages related to our services considered direct marketing?

You don’t need consent to send information to existing customers relating to their services (i.e.: notifications about their accounts), if they’re related to the services you do for them.

There are some cases where companies are marketing to customers via their account statements. This won’t be permitted, as you need permission to market to people, but people can’t opt out of something like a credit card statement.

Is marketing through social media considered direct marketing?

There are two ways, essentially, of marketing via social media. The one way is by targeting people of certain demographics with certain interests – these are people you don’t know. The other way is by uploading the contact details of the specific people you want to show ads to on social media – these are people you do know.

POPIA applies to the second case, when you do know the people you’re marketing to. This is direct marketing as you’re targeting specific individuals who are known to you.

Is a product-recommendation email from a government also considered direct marketing?

The South African government is subject to data-privacy laws and must comply just like everyone else. Whether the laws in a foreign country apply to their government will depend on their legislation.

To find out more about the POPI Act: Click here.