Facebook has agreed to show AdChoices icons on some ads served through its exchange, the Better Business Bureau said on Monday. But unlike many
other Web publishers, Facebook will only show the icons to users who first interact with the ad.
The BBB's Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program praised Facebook's move, saying the social-networking service "has taken meaningful steps to increase transparency and choice."
The Facebook Exchange, launched in September, allows advertisers to use demand-side platforms to serve ads to Facebook users, based on data about their activity on sites outside of Facebook. The BBB's accountability program began investigating Facebook when it launched the service.
The investigation resulted in Facebook's decision to allow icons. But instead of showing an icon on all ads that are served, based on profile data, Facebook will show an AdChoices icon to users who mouse over the small grey "x" on the upper right-hand corner of ads. The company will roll out the icons by the end of March.
Genie Barton, director of the accountability program, said in a written opinion that Facebook's decision to allow ad exchange partners to use the icon "will ensure compliance by those partners" with the self-regulatory principles.
Barton adds that she views Facebook's move as a good start. "I'm an incrementalist," she tells Online Media Daily. "It's a big, big step to get that icon on the biggest social media utility in the world."
At the same time, Barton says she realizes that Facebook's decision to only show icons to people who mouse over the ad will be controversial. "There's going to be a big debate about this decision, and I think that's healthy," she says.
Lou Mastria, managing director of the self-regulatory group Digital Advertising Alliance, praised Facebook's move. He says that even though the icon won't be on all behaviorally targeted ads, more consumers will see it than in the past.
Facebook's Brian Boland, director of product marketing, says that the company has always given users the ability to opt out of seeing ads from the Exchange partners. "Giving advertisers the ability to implement the AdChoices icon provides another option," he states.