Native Ads Need Privacy Disclosures, BBB Warns

Companies that promote products online via native ad campaigns must comply with the industry's privacy code, a unit of the Better Business Bureau said today in a compliance warning.

“Native advertisements personalized for consumers based on their prior browsing across websites must comply with the Digital Advertising Alliance’s (DAA) Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising,” the BBB's online accountability program said. “Companies involved in interest-based native ads are responsible for meeting all the requirements of the OBA Principles, just as they would be with respect to any other [interest-based ads].”

Generally, the industry's self-regulatory code requires advertisers and agencies to notify consumers about online targeting via an icon, and allow people to opt out of receiving behaviorally targeted ads.

The BBB's accountability program also warned publishers today that they must provide “enhanced” notice when data about visitors is used to serve them native ads on other sites.



 Web site operators have long displayed privacy policies that inform people about behavioral targeting and contain opt-out links. But users often have to sift through thousands of words before finding that information.

By contrast, the “enhanced notice” links take people directly to information about how information about their Web activity is used to serve them ads. The link itself is supposed to appear underneath text like “Interest-based ads,” “About our ads,” “AdChoices,” or “Why did I get this ad?”

In the past, some publishers said they were unaware of that requirement. As recently as October, the BBB faulted five Web site operators -- Answers Corporation, Best Buy, BuzzFeed,, and Yelp -- for failing to offer “enhanced” notices about behavioral targeting. Those companies all displayed online privacy policies, but didn't have separate links devoted to behavioral advertising.

The BBB says it will begin enforcing rules requiring privacy disclosures for native ads next month.

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