Major Marketing / Media Trade Groups Launch Program To Give Consumers Enhanced Control Over Collection And Use Of Web Viewing Data For Online Behavioral Advertising


Comprehensive, Self-Regulatory Initiative Includes Opt-out Website and Promotes Use of 'Advertising Option Icon' that Alerts Consumers to Online Behavioral Ads

New York, NY (October 4, 2010) - A group of the nation's largest media and marketing trade associations, with support from the Council of Better Business Bureaus, today announced the details of a self-regulatory program that will give consumers enhanced control over the collection and use of data regarding their Web viewing for online behavioral advertising purposes.

The program includes 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 practices represent the industry's response to the Federal Trade Commission's call for more robust and effective self-regulation of online behavioral advertising practices that would foster transparency, knowledge and choice for consumers.

The program promotes the use of the "Advertising Option Icon" and accompanying language, to be displayed within or near online advertisements or on Web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The Advertising Option Icon indicates a company's use of online behavioral advertising and adherence to the Principles guiding the program. By clicking on it, consumers will be able to link to a clear disclosure statement regarding the company's online behavioral advertising data collection and use practices as well as an easy-to-use opt-out option.

Starting today, companies collecting or using information for behavioral advertising are encouraged to visit to acquire and begin displaying the Advertising Option Icon, signaling their utilization of behavioral advertising and adherence to thePrinciples. The launch of an industry-wide icon will enhance the efforts of the growing number of companies that are already using similar mechanisms to deliver enhanced notice to millions of consumers. Interested companies engaged in behavioral advertising can also register to participate in the easy-to-use consumer opt-out mechanism on the site.

As business registration and use of the Advertising Option Icon expand, consumers will have an opportunity later this fall to for information about online behavioral advertising and to conveniently opt-out of some or all participating companies' online behavioral ads, if they choose.

The cross-industry self-regulatory initiative spans the entire marketing-media ecosystem and is led by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Collectively, these associations represent more than 5,000 leading U.S. corporations across the full spectrum of businesses that have shaped and participate in today's transformed media landscape.

The associations are actively promoting adoption of the Principles by businesses across the entire online advertising ecosystem via a series of webinars. To build widespread awareness and understanding of the program among the business community and consumers, the associations will be conducting a national educational campaign.

When launched later this fall, the consumer opt-out platform will include the participation of the Network Advertising Initiative(NAI). In addition, the DMA has built the Principles into its existing self-regulatory Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which all DMA members are required to comply with as a condition of membership.

Starting in 2011, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), a leading non-profit organization dedicated to advancing marketplace trust through self-regulation, along with the DMA, will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance, as well as managing consumer complaint resolution. The CBBB and DMA expect to contract with the Better Advertising Project,(BAP), to provide its monitoring technology to report on companies' adherence to the transparency and control provisions of the program.

"The advertising industry has a long history of strong, effective CBBB-administered self regulation of traditional media, and we look forward to applying these lessons to the dynamic new online advertising market. We also look forward to putting in place technology to monitor the marketplace and promote compliance with the program's transparency and control principles," said Lee Peeler, President and CEO of the National Advertising Review Council (NARC) and Executive Vice President, National Advertising Self-Regulation, Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB).

"The Advertising Option Icon program launch builds on DMA's long-standing commitment to consumer choice and its history of effective self-regulation across all marketing communications. As the marketing community seeks to provide consumers with more timely, relevant and customized advertising messages, the Advertising Option Icon will serve as a beacon of consumer choice and trust in the marketplace. We are committed to helping consumers understand that they have choices and exercise those choices regarding interest-based advertising, and will work diligently to foster compliance and accountability across the industry," said Larry Kimmel, CEO, DMA.

"Marketers, agencies and media companies need to talk to their audiences. They need to describe what they do, how they do it and the value it brings. Transparency and choice are essential in reinforcing that trust, and trust is a critical underpinning of growth-for the marketing and media industries as well as for the entire economy," said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB.

"As advertisers utilize the Internet to effectively market their brands, they recognize the need for consumer trust. The self-regulatory initiative launched today is an exceptional program that protects consumers' privacy. Consumers now can exercise choice and control over the data used by marketers to create interest-based advertising. On behalf of the ANA's 400 member companies that collectively invest more than $250 billion annually in marketing communications, we are proud to join with other leading media and marketing organizations to bring this comprehensive, ambitious program to the public," said Bob Liodice, President and CEO, ANA.

"Our ability to deliver advertising messages to consumers that speak only to their interests must surely be one of the great benefits of the media revolution that we're living through. We fully understand that this advance in targeting will be lost if the public comes to believe that we are not responsible stewards of the data on which it is built. That is why we are so proud to be one of the driving forces in the creation of the code of responsible conduct that we are launching today," said Nancy Hill, President and CEO, 4As.

"For the world of online advertising and marketing to work and grow, consumers must trust it. And the way to earn and keep that trust is to give consumers clear disclosure, choices, and, most importantly, control about how their data is used online for the purposes of targeted advertising. The organizations collaborating on this initiative represent an unprecedented coalition in support of that principle, with a concrete program to put that principle into action online. The American Advertising Federation is proud to be joining the other leading media and marketing trade associations in giving consumers the online tools they deserve to control, as they see fit, the use of their data in the world of interest-based online advertising," said James Edmund Datri, President and CEO, AAF.

"The NAI and its more than 50 members are pleased to contribute their experience in similar self-regulatory programs to this exciting cross-industry effort. We welcome the next stage of this initiative, as our members continue to roll out solutions that give consumers more information and choices around interest-based advertising. Several of our members have already launched icon-related advertising disclosures for hundreds of millions of advertisements, and we expect to see aggressive further deployments over coming months," said Charles Curran, Executive Director of the Network Advertising Initiative.

The Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, released in July 2009, guided the implementation details announced today. These Principles address Enhanced transparency beyond what is contained in privacy policies:

  • Clear choices regarding the data collected and used for online behavioral advertising;
  • Appropriate data security including data retention limits;
  • Limits on the collection of specified sensitive data for online behavioral advertising
  • Consumer education about online behavioral advertising; and
  • Development and implementation of accountability procedures for entities engaging in online behavioral advertising

To view the complete document, please click on this link: Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising.

Primary press contact:

Lesley Neadel
CooperKatz & Company