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Self-Regulation, Your Business and Your Privacy



By Scott Meyer, CEO, Better Advertising

Fitting The Pieces of Self-Regulation Together

WASHINGTON – At Better Advertising, we believe that industry self-regulation is the key to more transparent ads that produce better results. How our industry fits the pieces of Self-Regulation together will be a major topic of conversation at the FTC’s Exploring Privacy Roundtables. The first is Monday, December 7th. Better Advertising will be there, actively tweeting and blogging. Keep an eye out for me, Colin O’Malley and Sim Simeonov. And, Better Advertising will be filing a request to participate at the next one on January 28th in Berkley.

While Better Advertising lives this stuff every day, it can be fairly opaque to many. Here’s the way Better Advertising sees the situation.

The Cross-Industry Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising which rolled out in July of this year was a huge step. The leading trade associations in the online advertising industry came together to document the rules of conduct they expect their members to follow. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. As the document states:

“The Self-Regulatory Program consists of seven Principles. These Principles, described below, correspond with the “Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising” proposed by the Federal Trade Commission in February 2009, and also address public education and industry accountability issues raised by the Commission.”

The seven self-regulatory principles are: Education, Transparency, Consumer Control, Data Security, Material Changes to Existing Online Behavioral, Advertising Policies and Practices, Sensitive Data and Accountability.

The first to roll out was the IAB’s new Privacy Matters campaign to address the education principle. More than 500 million impressions are being donated by major media outlets to get the point across. WPP, a Better Advertising design partner, did a great job here on the creative. Twenty leading publishers and ad networks donated ad inventory. Stay tuned, there will a lot more information to educate consumers as to what is going on. Better Advertising will be playing a major part of that effort.

The next step in self-regulation is “the icon.” The icon will alert consumers that an ad is using or collecting behavioral data to target them. It also gives consumers more information about behavioral advertising and provides a logical way to exercise the choice of whether or not to be targeted. The Future of Privacy Forum (where Better Advertising is on the Advisory Board) working with important academics Mary Culnan and Manoj Hastak plus Better Advertising’s friends at WPP’s GroupM and Kantar have pulled together a very impressive set of choices. They just announced it as their New Privacy and Personalization Symbols Finalists. This is a project which Better Advertising enthusiastically supports. It’s been incorporated into what Better Advertising will be delivering to clients.

So, that brings us to the last piece of the self-regulation puzzle. How will companies be able to prove that they actually following all of these principles? That’s where the Accountability Principle comes in, and that’s what Better Advertising does. This will end up being the most complicated, and most important, part of successful self-regulation. It requires processing billions of events per day and integrating with hundreds of companies across the online advertising ecosystem. For that, you need a custom-built technology solution that is laser focused on Behavioral Advertising and complying with the Principles.

Better Advertising is actively engaged with all the key players in this effort as we roll out our platform. And there is a lot of good work that’s going into this space. The NAI’s new opt-out extension for Firefox is one example. As is the Yahoo CLEAR notice protocol. The Better Advertising platform supports, and is complementary to, these and alternative technologies that will be coming to market soon.

Behavioral advertising is here to stay. It makes for a better consumer web experience. It delivers better results for advertisers. It will take a lot of continued hard work to deliver the kind of transparency that consumers, regulators and legislators are demanding. And Better Advertising is committed to working with everyone to make this happen to ensure our industry stays self-regulated and keeps on growing.