The Association of National Advertisers is urging its 400 member companies to get behind the self-regulatory online behavioral advertising (OBA) program developed by a coalition of media and marketing trade associations. The ANA has distributed a toolkit about OBA and details on how implement it.
"The industry-wide self-regulatory program is an exceptional initiative that protects consumers' privacy and gives them the ability to exercise choice and control over the data used by marketers to create online behavioral advertising," said Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA, in a statement. "We strongly urge all of our members to fully comply with the privacy principles and implementation practices specified by this important program."
The ANA toolkit includes background on the self-regulatory program; a definition and description of OBA; guidelines for who should use the toolkit; details on how to know if an advertiser is covered by OBA; instructions for implementing; and costs associated with program participation.
The OBA program includes implementation practices to support the "Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising" which the industry released in 2009 after Federal Trade Commission called on advertisers to improve self-regulation of online behavioral advertising practices.
The principles, developed by a group overseen by ANA, 4As, the American Advertising Federation, the Direct Marketing Association and the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and supported by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, are meant to correspond with tenets proposed by the FTC in February 2009. They are also meant to address consumer concerns about how marketers and media platforms use personal information.
Among the seven principles, an "Education Principle" calls for organizations to participate in efforts to educate individuals and businesses about online behavioral advertising and the Principles; and a "Transparency Principle" calls for clearer and easily accessible disclosures to consumers about data collection and use practices associated with online behavioral advertising. Another of the seven, the "Consumer Control Principle" exhorts marketers to give consumers power over whether data is collected and used for online behavioral advertising purposes. This choice will be available through a link from the notice provided on the Web page where data are collected. It requires service providers to get the consent of users before serving online behavioral advertising; it also requires them to take steps to scrub identity from data used.
The ANA action comes a month and a half after the FTC backed a proposal that would let consumers choose whether to have their online behavior monitored. The commission advocated a framework for consumer data use by marketers, advertisers and others, including things like a simple, consumer-controlled means of activating a "do not track" function. While Congress would have to make a lot of the FTC proposals law, the commission has called for self-regulation or "privacy by design," requiring companies to install consumer protection into web practices.
The program promotes the use of an Advertising Option Icon that would be displayed near online ads or on Web pages where data is collected for behavioral advertising. The icon indicates a company's use of online behavioral advertising and adherence to the principles guiding the program. By clicking on it, consumers would link to a disclosure statement.
The Internet Ad Bureau in October began encouraging companies collecting or using information for behavioral advertising to visit AboutAds.info to start displaying the Advertising Option Icon.