AT&T And Comcast Tap TRUSTe Behavioral Targeting Widget
TRUSTe has developed a widget that provides consumers with the ability to opt-out from being targeted by advertisements by ad networks and other third-party ad companies.
AT&T and Comcast become the first to test the Behavioral Advertising Notice and Choice Program across their respective Web sites. The test will begin before the end of March and run for up to six months.
The program, which adheres to the Federal Trade Commission's privacy self-regulatory guidelines for behavioral advertising or interest-based advertising, offers Web site publishers a plug-and-play solution to educating consumers.
Fran Maier, chief executive officer at TRUSTe, says the company created the program in collaboration with the Behavioral Advertising Advisory Committee, whose members include AT&T, Comcast, Microsoft, Monster, Future of Privacy Forum, and PrivacyChoice.
Most publishers want to have a direct relationship with consumers and don't really want to rely on third-party companies, Maier says. "We are trying to bring consumers some sort of understanding on how to protect their privacy," she says. "There's a lack of understanding, and no one really knows if consumers will use it, like it, or really want it."
Maier says the platform uses an icon designed by TRUSTe, but remains open to developing an industry icon based on standards. Today, only TRUSTe clients have an option to use the Widget, but the program should open to others later this year.
The widget walks consumers through three steps. The first provides information about ads that run on the Web site. Step 2 allows the consumer to check preferences, such as not opting out, partially opting out or completely opting out. Back-end technology scans the publisher's site to determine the networks serving up ads. From that scan, a list is generated and provided to the consumer. Step 3 asks for feedback about the process. It also asks for an explanation on why the consumer chose to opt out.
Publishers who participate in the pilot will display a TRUSTe or industry-coalition icon and a message such as "Your Info and Ads" on Web pages where behavioral advertising or retargeting takes place. A piece of code is inserted in the Web page. Clicking on the icon will open a TRUSTe-hosted pop-up widget, providing consumers with a short notice about ads appearing on the site.
The widget also provides instruction on how to opt-out and leave feedback or file a complaint. The pilot will test icon placement, alternative notice and choice messaging and consumer engagement levels.