Nuts & Bolts - Eye on Privacy: This Is Huge!
In the summer, an unparalleled group of previously disparate interests in the online advertising ecosystem agreed to speak the same language about behavioral advertising.
The Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Direct Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Council of Better Business Bureaus agreed to common privacy principles to guide online behavioral advertising practices.
This is huge.
Parenthetically, as those of you who know me are aware, I am sometimes given to overstatement to show excitement. But I have never before used the word "huge" in the more than two years I have written this column. I would be remiss if I did not send kudos to the Venable law firm for managing the not-so-trivial task of bringing so many varied interests together.
The meat of the new self-regulatory principles is in seven key areas. The areas are directly responsive to the Federal Trade Commission Staff Report: Self-regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, dated February 2009. The seven principles focus on education, transparency, consumer control, data security, material changes to online behavioral advertising policies, sensitive data and accountability.
You may have seen some news accounts of the release of these self-regulatory principles. It even included a supportive quote from FTC Commissioner Pamela Jones Harbour.
I believe that IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg captured the need for cross-industry collaboration best: "Although consumers have registered few, if any, complaints about Internet privacy, surveys show they are concerned about their privacy. We are acting early and aggressively on their concerns, to reinforce their trust in this vital medium that contributes so significantly to the U.S. economy."
Consumer trust and confidence are critical to maintaining a diverse, open, low-cost or no-cost Internet ecosystem. That is as true for consumers as it is for advertisers. The seven principles strike a balance between consumer concerns regarding the use of information and interest-based ads while preserving the innovative and robust advertising that supports free online content, as well as preserving the ability to deliver the relevant advertising that consumers say they value.