This comprehensive Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising will help protect consumers’ privacy rights and expectations in ad-supported online media. This is the first time the entire advertising ecosystem has joined forces to implement a program empowering consumers to manage their data.
The unprecedented collaboration has been three years in the making, and represents the entire marketing-media industry. This self-regulatory initiative includes the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) in conjunction with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB). The participating associations represent more than 5,000 leading U.S. companies across all of the key businesses that have played a role in the transformation of the way consumers experience media.
The Internet itself has become a vital link in the supply chain and communications chain for all businesses, and is a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of small businesses and publishers that have no equivalently cost-effective means of reaching so wide an audience. The ecosystem includes advertisers, advertising agencies, Web publishers, Internet access services providers, providers of application software such as Web toolbars and Internet Web browsers, search engines and online advertising networks. This program will enhance industry self-regulation in ways that will foster transparency, knowledge and choice for consumers—ultimately protecting this most vital segment of our economy.
Because of this cross-industry initiative, consumers will gain enhanced notice and control over the collection and use of Web-viewing data for online behavioral advertising purposes. The program provides specific implementation practices in support of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, which the industry released in July 2009. Together, the principles and program respond to the Federal Trade Commission’s call for more robust and effective self-regulation of online behavioral advertising practices. The program includes several important components:
- Advertising Option Icon: The Program promotes the use of an icon and accompanying language, to be displayed in or near online advertisements or on Web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The Advertising Option Icon indicates that the advertising is covered by the self-regulatory program, and by clicking on it consumers will be able to link to a clear disclosure statement regarding the data collection and use practices associated with the ad, as well as an easy-to-use opt-out mechanism.
- AboutAds.info: Starting today, companies collecting or using information for behavioral advertising are encouraged to visit www.AboutAds.info to acquire and begin displaying the Advertising Option Icon, signaling their utilization of behavioral advertising and adherence to the Principles. Interested companies engaged in behavioral advertising can also register to participate in the easy-to-use consumer opt-out mechanism on the www.AboutAds.info site.
- Consumer Choice Mechanism: As business registration and use of the Advertising Option Icon expand, consumers will have an opportunity later this fall to visit www.AboutAds.info for information about online behavioral advertising and to conveniently opt out of all or some participating companies’ online behavioral ads, if they choose.
- Accountability and Enforcement: Starting in 2011, the CBBB and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance, as well as managing consumer complaint resolution. DMA and CBBB will employ monitoring technology to report on companies’ adherence to the transparency and control provisions of the Program.
- Educational Campaign: To build awareness of the program among the business community and consumers, the trade associations will conduct a broad-based educational campaign. To facilitate this initiative, we have planned a series of webinars for businesses on how to implement the Principles.