Earlier this week, the BBB’s Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program announced its first compliance warning concerning the use of interest-based advertising in native advertising. “Native advertising” generally includes ads presented in the native format of the website, publication, or platform on which they appear. Although the BBB declined to mention the identity of the recipient, the warning reminds interest-based advertisers of their obligation to comply with the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, particularly the Principles of transparency and consumer control, even when using native advertising. Enforcement of the compliance warning will begin January 1, 2015.

The compliance warning explains that native, interest-based advertisers should provide consumers with transparency through “enhanced notice” in or around the native ad that, like the AdChoices Icon, alerts consumers that they are viewing an ad and links to more information about interest-based advertising and consumers’ ability to exercise choice by opting out. While the BBB appears to favor the AdChoices Icon, the warning notes that a clear phrase alerting consumers that they are viewing an ad may be used instead. Additionally, the warning reminds advertisers that they must give consumers control over the collection and use of their data and must honor the choices made.

Developed in 2009 by leading industry associations, the seven OBA Principles are intended to make online behavioral advertising more consumer-friendly, giving consumers knowledge of and control over the information collected about them. The Principles are (1) education, (2) transparency, (3) consumer control, (4) data security, (5) material changes, (6) sensitive data, and (7) accountability. It is important for advertisers engaged in online behavioral advertising to ensure compliance with these Principles, regardless of the technology and platform or device used.