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Ad Privacy and Compliance: Making the Right Impression

Posted by Max Mead on January 31st, 2011 at 4:52 pm

This fall, online consumer privacy took center stage with the launch of the online advertising industry’s first major coordinated step to self-regulate practices related to the use of online behavioral data. The initiative was broad in scope, led by a consortia comprising 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).

At the core of the initiative was to foster a coordinated effort and develop a methodology for allowing consumers to choose which entities are able to collect and use data for online behavioral advertising (“OBA”), whether for media targeting or generating creative messaging. This recently came in the form of an industry-wide “Advertising Option Icon.” When an advertiser includes this icon within ad placements consumers can learn about online behavioral advertising, which data providers and sources were used for generating the ad, and may also opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads from some or all of participating companies by clicking the icon.

At PointRoll we support this industry initiative for two main reasons:

First, we believe that consumers should have control over who can and can’t use their data, and it shouldn’t be an all or nothing decision. This initiative provides a clear-cut way for consumers to manage their data on a provider-by-provider basis without having to access registries or track down obscure entities in the ecosystem. Early pilot data shows that few people actually opt out, but consumers indicate that they appreciate the option. Another plus? The initiative builds trust between advertiser and consumer, a positive thing for everyone involved.

Second, those of us in the online advertising industry know our business better than anyone else, so who better to regulate our behavior than ourselves? Many of the ideas that have been considered by regulators range from the strange to the absurd, and given how much is at stake for the industry, there’s too much at risk to allow the government alone to decide how behavioral data should be used. The genesis of the Do Not Call List—which was hastily passed by Congress –is frequently seen as the telemarketing industry’s failure to take responsibility and self-regulate. The entire internet ecosystem, including most of the great free content that we all enjoy each day, relies on advertising so we must act now.

Is this kind of consumer notification mandatory? Nope. But we believe advertisers should consider using it.

Here at PointRoll we partnered with TRUSTe to support TRUSTed Ad, a platform that helps marketers implement this new system.

TRUSTed Ads is “a powerful and customizable privacy platform that allows advertisers and website publishers to provide consumers with easy-to-access notice on online behavioral advertising (OBA) practices, as well as the ability for consumers to exercise opt-out choices from advertising networks.”

Ten years ago, PointRoll’s founders wanted to deliver a more positive experience to users. Back then, it was to create a less disruptive ad unit, one the user chose to engage with. Now, 10 years later, the user again has a choice, this time when it comes to the use of their behavioral data.

People interested in learning more about easy-to-use consumer opt-out mechanisms should visit the coalition’s www.AboutAds.info site and as always people can learn more about PointRoll’s practices at blog.pointroll.com.

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