In the Lull of Election Year Politics, Internet Ads Self-Regulation Has a Fighting Chance

by on October 13, 2010 · 0 comments

Earlier this month, a coalition of ad and marketing associations made public a new self-regulatory program for behavioral advertising (or as we like to refer to them, “interest-based ads”). Will it be enough to whet the appetite of members of Congress waiting to chomp on the privacy bit when they get back in November?

Hopefully. But it all depends on ad network uptake and user adoption. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz’s wait-and-see attitude toward the self-regulatory effort probably sums up the thoughts of many pro-regulatory privacy advocates. According to Politico’s Morning Tech, Leibowitz said:

We commend industry’s effort to get a broad group of industry leaders on board. However, the effectiveness of this effort will depend on how, and the extent to which, the opt-out is actually implemented and enforced – all of which is yet to be seen. We also urge industry to make sure that the opt-out is easy for consumers to find, use, and understand.

Making it easy for consumers is what the advertising option icon (above) is all about. It’s a just-in-time “heads-up” accompanying ads that allows users to obtain more information about why they’re seeing the ad. In the future, it will allow users to opt-out. Ad networks will pay a license fee to have the right to display the icon and must submit to ongoing compliance.

It’s the compliance part that’s interesting. The Better Advertising project is a new company formed specifically for the self-regulatory program. According to Internet Retailer, “the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the Direct Marketing Association, a trade group for direct-to-consumer marketers and retailers, will begin monitoring compliance with the program early next year.”

Let’s hope the coalition moves quickly and successfully, before Congress does….

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