IAB Approves, Releases Ad Privacy Guidelines

With concerns mounting over access and usage of consumer data, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Sunday unveiled new interactive advertising privacy guidelines that are designed to ensure users' control over the use of personal information by interactive media and advertisers. The guidelines, which were approved by the IAB's board during the opening day of the bureau's annual conference in Phoenix, Arizona, on Sunday, also are expected to improve the delivery of relevant marketing communications to consumers.

The guidelines are not specific edicts to online advertisers, agencies and publishers, but represent "high level concepts" dealing with consumer notice, choice and data security, and are intended to serve as a "roadmap" for industry players who collect and/or use data to deliver relevant ads online or via other platforms.

The guidelines, which were developed over many months with the IAB Policy Development Task Force and Policy Council, come as advocacy groups and federal regulators have been turning the heat of up on the industry, especially as online marketers and publishers get more sophisticated about leveraging consumer data and so-called behavioral targeting techniques. The IAB said the new guidelines would be submitted officially to the Federal Trade Commission by the end of February.

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The move comes amid a series of similar house cleaning initiatives enacted by the IAB, which also recently released a set of guidelines concerning online lead generation practices. The moves appear intended to nip regulatory actions or recommendations that would curtail industry trade practices.

The new guidelines, IAB President-CEO Randall Rothenberg, noted, are "more flexible" than those suggested by the FTC in late 2007.

"IAB's principles are an important first step in the creation of stronger industry self regulatory programs," said Dave Morgan, departing executive vice president-global advertising strategy of AOL and co-chair of the Task Force that developed the principles. "We believe that all existing and future types of interactive advertising should fit within these criteria and we will move swiftly towards promulgating more granular best practices based on this document."

The news guidelines include five basic principles:

* Consumers should be provided meaningful notice about the information collected and used for interactive advertising.

* Consumers should be informed of their choices regarding interactive advertising and empowered to exercise those choices.

* Businesses should implement appropriate information security practices and procedures.

* Businesses should be responsive and accountable to consumers.

* Companies should educate consumers about the benefits of interactive advertising.

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