The Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Programme has released a compliance warning regarding the use of online-behavioural advertising (OBA) in conjunction with native advertisements. The compliance warning states that native advertisements tailored to a consumer based on the consumer's browsing history (ie, OBA) must comply with the Self-regulatory Principles for Online Behavioural Advertising, just as any traditional-based advertisement utilising OBA would. Enforcement of the compliance warning began on January 1 2015.

The accountability programme was developed by leading industry associations in order to regulate online behavioural advertising across the Internet. The programme issues compliance warnings to provide guidance on how to comply with the OBA principles. The two key pillars of the OBA principles are transparency and consumer control. The transparency principle requires companies to ensure that consumers are aware when their data is being collected for OBA purposes; while the consumer control principle requires companies to provide consumers with an easy-to-use mechanism to opt out of having their data collected.

Companies, whether displaying native advertisements or traditional-based advertisements, must take the following steps if the advertisements are served in connection with OBA:

  • The company must provide "enhanced notice" to consumers that the advertisement is being tailored to them based on their browsing habits. The notice should be in the form of a link in or around the ad while the consumers are actually viewing the ad. The link should take the consumer to a landing page where the consumer can learn more about OBA and can opt out (companies often use the familiar "Advertising Options" icon to fulfil the notice requirement). The information provided by the link landing page (including the opt-out mechanism) should also be on the company's own website.
  • The company must provide consumers with a functional, easy-to-use way of opting out of the collection and use of their data. Website publishers which allow third parties to collect data for OBA purposes on their websites must provide notice of that data collection (whether the ad being served is a native ad or a traditional-based ad).

John P Feldman

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