Randall Rothenberg: January 2012 Archives
Two billion people across the globe—more than a quarter of the world’s population use the Internet. Yet the source of its popularity is also our industry’s Achilles’ heel.
That is why the new public service campaign by the Salt Lake City office of MRM, a McCann Worldgroup company, for the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) is such a breakthrough. The launch of the consumer-facing “Your AdChoices” campaign aims to build more trust among Internet users by explaining how online advertising works. It is the first industry campaign that explains the benefits of online marketing communications, offers solutions for legitimate privacy concerns, directs consumers toward additional resources, and effectively demystifies the Web. More specifically, the campaign explains how interest-based ads give consumers more of the personal experience they want in their digital experience. Quoting one of its videos, the campaign exists “to give you more information and control over targeted advertising.” Through entertaining and compelling videos and banner ads, Your AdChoices will help millions learn how to use the AdChoices (also known as the Advertising Option) Icon. Known by its creators as the “Forward I,” the icon empowers consumers to control how and what advertising reaches them.
The DAA is the consortium founded by a half-dozen industry associations that are united in support of the open Internet and consumer protection. In addition to the IAB, the alliance includes the Association of National Advertisers, the 4As, the Direct Marketing Association, the American Advertising Federation, and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The icon and the self-regulatory mechanism of which it is a part have been adopted by the IAB as part of our IAB Code of Conduct for members. That means if you belong to the IAB—as 500 of the most significant digital companies in the U.S. do—you must be part of this self-regulatory program.
The “Forward I” icon sits visibly in the corner of all digital ads that employ so-called behavioral data to fine-tune their delivery to the most interested consumers. When clicked, the icon takes consumers to the DAA website, where they can learn more about how targeted advertising enhances their online experiences, and how they can manage their own privacy preferences. It is already served voluntarily by marketers, publishers, and ad networks billions of times each week. But there has never been a major push to explain how to consumers how to proactively make their advertising and other content more relevant to their needs and interests. This MRM campaign-which soon will blanket digital mediais the first major advertising effort to promote interest-based advertising to consumers, and the first since the IAB’s own 2009 campaign to demonstrate the industry’s spirited dedication to self-regulation. By educating the people who see the Internet as an integral part of their lives, this campaign amplifies what they love about the web (exciting, personalized content), and protects them from what they fear (unwanted messages and breaches of privacy).
The IAB’s “Privacy Matters” campaign two years ago inaugurated the effort to explain our industry to the public. Thirty-two online publishers and ad networks committed more than 600 million impressions to the campaign, fueled by creative from the digital agency Schematic, media planning from Group M’s Mediaedge:cia, and ad serving from Atlas. Through “Privacy Matters,” we helped lay the foundation for building a trusting relationship between the interactive advertising industry and digital media users. We’re thrilled that we’ve been able to step up our game, by collaborating with our cousins in the trade association world to support the rollout of the new campaign, so we can explain to millions why and how we are using information to enhance their digital lives.
Your AdChoices takes a fresh approach to the issue of privacy. The message here is “let the right ad find you,” and promises that you can manage the kinds of ads that will reach you. In short, you can see more ads for products and services you might care about. In a playful style, the banners show a man dressed as a banner ad on the street, showing how close you are to that delivery of Thai food you so desperately crave.
The videos, using a friendly, stylized touch, explain what interest-based advertising is. In three short, easy-to-follow videos, you can quickly understand how advertisers are using anonymous browsing history to develop machine-driven ad experiences that are more customized to your interests than the mass advertising that has characterized the media for more than 200 years. The campaign also goes deeper, giving you help on managing your preferences and data.
By helping educate consumers, we are also helping keep the digital advertising industry free of unnecessary regulation. Too often, we’ve seen legislators and regulators recommend overly broad and sometimes technologically unfeasible solutions that could irreparably damage the infrastructure of the Internet and constrain user choice. For digital advertising to continue to flourish, we need to make sure that we are responsible enough to set our own agenda. That means ensuring the industry has the freedom to dazzle its users, but it also means making sure that those users who fuel our industry feel empowered and protected.
It’s up to us to protect the industry for those who shape it, and for those whose lives have come to depend on it.
About the Author
Randall Rothenberg is President and Chief Executive Officer, Interactive Advertising Bureau.