Key Advertising Groups to Develop Privacy Guidelines for Online Behavioral Advertising Data Use and Collection

NEW YORK – Four leading marketing and advertising industry associations announced that they are working together to develop enhanced self-regulatory principles for online behavioral advertising in order to address privacy concerns and to increase consumers’ trust and confidence in how online information is gathered and used. This cross-industry self-regulatory initiative represents the first time the entire marketing-media ecosystem has come together to develop practices in interactive advertising. The associations are the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB), a leading organization dedicated to advancing marketplace trust, is also part of the effort.

The joint industry task force plans to engage with policymakers, a broad cross section of business, consumers, and other important stakeholders as it addresses the important public policy issues that have been raised regarding online behavioral advertising. The group is currently discussing the areas for self-regulation set forth in the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed self-regulatory principles issued in December 2007, including education and transparency, consumer notification and choice, data security, and self-regulatory enforcement. The associations look forward to working with the FTC as it continues to review its privacy principles.

The members of these associations, along with other participants of the group, together represent thousands of advertisers, agencies, marketers, publishers, media companies, ad networks, and other service providers, including the major participants in the online advertising marketplace. The initiative will seek to address concerns about the use of online consumer data for behavioral advertising purposes while preserving the innovative and robust advertising that supports the vast array of free online content.

“Advertising agencies are leaders in the innovation that is fueling the Internet economy,” said Nancy Hill, President and CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. “The result has been tremendous benefits for all consumers. We are anxious to work with our colleagues in the Internet, advertising, and marketing communities to develop effective self-regulatory practices that apply across all our memberships.”

“Behavioral marketing provides enormous benefits to consumers, but it is our responsibility as marketers to ensure the Web-surfing public’s privacy interests remain protected. Strong and comprehensive self-regulation strikes a balance that both protects the public interest and allows marketers to provide relevant advertising, which is particularly critical during this period of economic downturn,” said Bob Liodice, President and CEO of the ANA.

“The BBB has always advocated responsible business practices backed by effective self-regulation. This is especially needed in the evolving area of online and behavioral marketing. We believe that this effort can play a critical role in developing meaningful standards supported by credible enforcement in this increasingly important area,” said Steve Cole, President and CEO of the BBB.

“It is essential that we have consistent standards that reinforce consumer relevance and business responsibility,” said John Greco, President and CEO of the Direct Marketing Association. “We believe this is one of the most important steps we can take to make that a reality.”

“Effective self-regulation of interactive advertising will help ensure that our industry can continue to evolve and innovate, offering consumers what they want when they want it. The value of online advertising to consumers and businesses cannot be understated, particularly in these challenging economic times. We want to be certain that we demonstrate the value exchange to the public that comes from online advertising. Having the support of our colleagues across the business community on these core issues is critical to the IAB and its members,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB.