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New Initiative to Give Consumers Enhanced Control Over Collection of Web Data Used for Behavioral Advertising

Self-Regulatory Initiative Includes Opt-out Website and Promotes Use of ‘Advertising Option Icon’ that Alerts Consumers to Online Behavioral Ads 

Self-Regulatory Initiative Includes Opt-out Website and Promotes Use of ‘Advertising Option Icon’ that Alerts Consumers to Online Behavioral Ads 

A group of media and marketing trade associations, with support from the Council of Better Business Bureaus, today announced the details of a self-regulatory program designed to give consumers enhanced control over the collection and use of data regarding their Web viewing for online behavioral advertising purposes.

Privacy Policies for Behavioral Targeted Advertising

The program promotes the use of the “Advertising Option Icon” and accompanying language, to be displayed within or near online advertisements or on Web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The Advertising Option Icon indicates a company’s use of online behavioral advertising and adherence to the Principles guiding the program. Similar to a Web site’s privacy policy, consumers will be able to link to a clear disclosure statement regarding the company’s online behavioral advertising data collection and use practices as well as an easy-to-use opt-out option.

Later this fall consumers will be able visit for information about online behavioral advertising and to conveniently opt-out of some or all participating companies’ online behavioral ads, if they choose.

“Marketers, agencies and media companies need to talk to their audiences. They need to describe what they do, how they do it and the value it brings. Transparency and choice are essential in reinforcing that trust, and trust is a critical underpinning of growth—for the marketing and media industries as well as for the entire economy,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB.

The program includes specific implementation practices in support of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, which the industry released in July 2009. Together, the Principles and practices represent the industry’s response to the Federal Trade Commission’s call for more robust and effective self-regulation of online behavioral advertising practices that would foster transparency, knowledge and choice for consumers.

The Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, released in July 2009, guided the implementation details announced today. These Principles were developed to enhance transparency beyond what is contained in normal Web site privacy policies:

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• Clear choices regarding the data collected and used for online behavioral advertising;

• Appropriate data security including data retention limits;

• Limits on the collection of specified sensitive data for online behavioral advertising

• Consumer education about online behavioral advertising;

• Development and implementation of accountability procedures for entities engaging in online behavioral advertising

The cross-industry self-regulatory initiative is led by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Collectively, these associations represent more than 5,000 leading U.S. corporations across the full spectrum of businesses that have shaped and participate in today’s transformed media landscape.

The associations are actively promoting adoption of the Principles by businesses across the entire online advertising ecosystem via a series of webinars. To build widespread awareness and understanding of the program among the business community and consumers, the associations will be conducting a national educational campaign.

When launched later this fall, the consumer opt-out platform will include the participation of the Network Advertising Initiative (NAI). In addition, the DMA has built the Principles into its existing self-regulatory Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice, which all DMA members are required to comply with as a condition of membership.

Starting in 2011, the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing marketplace trust through self-regulation, along with the DMA, will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance, as well as managing consumer complaint resolution. The CBBB and DMA expect to contract with the Better Advertising Project, (BAP), to provide its monitoring technology to report on companies’ adherence to the transparency and control provisions of the program.

“The Advertising Option Icon program launch builds on DMA’s long-standing commitment to consumer choice and its history of effective self-regulation across all marketing communications. As the marketing community seeks to provide consumers with more timely, relevant and customized advertising messages, the Advertising Option Icon will serve as a beacon of consumer choice and trust in the marketplace. We are committed to helping consumers understand that they have choices and exercise those choices regarding interest-based advertising, and will work diligently to foster compliance and accountability across the industry,” said Larry Kimmel, CEO, DMA.

Companies that collect or use information for behavioral advertising are encouraged to visit to acquire and begin displaying the Advertising Option Icon, signaling their utilization of behavioral advertising and adherence to the Principles.

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