Ad groups join forces to fight online ad regulation


The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and The Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) have joined forces to quell government regulation of online advertising. They’re hoping to convince the FTC they can police themselves and head off efforts to regulate behavioral targeting, an issue gaining steam in Congress.

The groups 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.

Online behavioral advertising/targeting ads based on individual user behavior are more effective. However, the way that user data is collected has raised a red flags. The Senate Commerce Committee held hearings back in September about ISPs using behavioral technologies. In reaction, so far, ISPs promised to offer users an opt-in feature before their activity is monitored. This is likely what the ad associations will also offer up–targeting consumer notification and choice, education, transparency, data security and self-regulatory enforcement.

The group is currently discussing the areas for self-regulation set forth in the Federal Trade Commission’s proposed self-regulatory principles issued in 12/07, 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 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, AAAAs CEO. “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.