BBB Says LifeLock Retargeting Campaign Lacked Privacy Icons

The Better Business Bureau said on Thursday that a recent retargeting ad campaign for LifeLock didn't include the notice-and-choice icon -- the centerpiece of the industry's self-regulatory privacy code.

The self-regulatory organization said its investigators visited and then later received ads for the company. Some of those retargeted ads lacked the AdChoices icon, which is aimed at informing consumers about online tracking and allowing them to opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads.

The BBB says that LifeLock's retargeted ads initially included the icon -- a small blue triangle -- but that it disappeared from the ads last February, when the company started using MediaMind's self-serve platform.

The self-regulatory group said in a statement that a “communications snafu” between LifeLock, the ad agency Initiative, and AOL Advertising caused the icons to be dropped.

Before February 2013, AOL Advertising served an icon on LifeLock's behalf, the BBB said. But last February, LifeLock followed Initiative's recommendation to switch the campaign to the MediaMind's self-serve platform. At the time, no one told AOL that it should continue to serve the icon.

“AOL Advertising assumed that MediaMind had taken over that responsibility,” the BBB said in a statement. But MediaMind requires all self-serve clients to take responsibility for the icon, the BBB said.

LifeLock's own site also didn't have information about online behavioral advertising, or a link allowing consumers to opt out, according to the BBB.

The security company said it was unaware of the self-regulatory code, according to the BBB. LifeLock also said that it was informed by Initiative in 2013 about the cost of the icons, but not about the “significance” of using them, the BBB wrote.

The BBB pointed out in a written opinion that this campaign marks Initiative's second brush with the organization's compliance unit. Initiative previously served as the ad agency for a 2012 online Kia campaign that didn't have the AdChoices icon. (Initiative was accused in the earlier case of telling ad networks not to run the icon; the agency told the BBB there had been a misunderstanding.)

The BBB said it was “concerned to see Initiative serving as the advertising agency in a second non-compliant OBA campaign.”

The BBB also said that Initiative didn't provide all of the information requested, but that the agency accepted recommendations to “work with all parties in the ad serving chain to ensure compliance with the OBA principles.”


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