Industry Coalition Bows Self-Regulation Info Web Site, Readies New Trade Organization
The Interactive Advertising Bureau and other advertising groups behind the industry's self-regulatory privacy initiative are getting ready to officially launch a new trade organization, Online Media Daily has learned.
The new group has already created the Web site Aboutads.info, which will offer information related to the industry's self-regulatory efforts. Members of the organization -- called the Digital Advertising Alliance, according to the new site -- include the IAB, American Association of Advertising Agencies, American Advertising Federation, Association of National Advertisers, Better Business Bureau, Direct Marketing Association and Network Advertising Initiative. The new organization has applied for tax-exempt business league status.
Icons to signify behavioral advertising -- or serving ads based on people's Web activity -- also are expected to go live soon. Those icons consist of an i inside a triangle turned on its side to resemble a play button. They are slightly different from the prototype unveiled earlier this year, of an i inside an open circle.
Insiders say that the change came about because some executives thought that the new i-in-a-triangle icon would be a more enforceable trademark.
In the past, Web companies tended to use privacy policies to notify people about tracking and behavioral targeting, but those policies have been criticized as lengthy and dense.
Start-up Better Advertising was tapped by the National Advertising Review Council to help monitor compliance with privacy principles developed by the trade groups. Those principles generally require companies to provide prominent notice to consumers about online ad targeting and allow them to opt out, but in some cases the principles call for opt-in consent. Companies that are deemed in compliance with the principles will be able to license the icon for use in their ads.
Many industry executives had expected Web companies to begin using the icons earlier this year, but the initiative stalled due to concerns about whether courts would back the trade groups' ability to use the earlier version of icon.
The compliance program, like the self-regulatory principles, is part of the industry's effort to demonstrate that no new privacy laws are needed. Earlier this year Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) introduced a bill that would require Web companies to obtain users' explicit permission before sharing their personal information with third parties, unless those companies participate in a "universal opt-out" program operated by a self-regulatory program and overseen by the Federal Trade Commission.
Rep. Rich Boucher (D-Va.) had also floated a draft bill that would require ad networks that track people and collect personal information for ad purposes to obtain users' opt-in consent, unless the networks provide prominent notice through an icon and also allow people to view and edit their profiles.
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission is looking into creating a do-not-track list that would allow people to opt out of all behavioral advertising.