The Online Interest-Based Advertising Accountability Program announced its latest actions against a pair of companies that failed to offer consumers a method to decline behavioral targeting.
The Digital Advertising Alliance's Self-Regulatory Principles, which govern the AdChoices program, require that all interest-based ads use the AdChoices icon as an alert to notify consumers that an ad is based on their prior web browsing. When a consumer clicks on the icon, he or she should be taken to a short description of interest-based advertising (IBA) and an opt-out link, which the Accountability Program refers to as enhanced notice.
In addition, every web page where companies collect consumer data for IBA must alert consumers to the collection by typically using the enhanced notice. Again, when consumers click on the link they should be provided with a short explanation of IBA and an opt-out.
In the first action, Varick Media Management correctly displayed the AdChoices icon, the Accountability Program said, but the site's opt-out links were broken. "Varick's vendor-provided enhanced notice and opt-out solutions were inaccurate or outdated, resulting in non-functional disclosure links," the Accountability Program explained in a press release about the action. "Therefore, Varick's written notices of its IBA practices—both as a third party engaged in IBA on other websites and as a first party allowing non-affiliates to collect data on its own website—were not readily accessible."
Unlike the Varick action, which was triggered by a consumer complaint, the case against The Hollywood Reporter arose from the Accountability Program's work on native advertising. The company's website featured an IBA-based content recommendation widget, but neither The Hollywood Reporter nor the third party serving the IBA provided an enhanced notice link.
"Consumers therefore had no enhanced notice to alert them that the sponsored content recommendations were based on their prior web browsing and link them from the text of the notice to an opt-out mechanism," according to the press release. Further, consumers were not provided with enhanced notice that other third parties were collecting data across The Hollywood Reporter website as required by the Accountability Program.
Both entities have now complied with the Accountability Program rules. Varick has rectified the broken and missing links and The Hollywood Reporter has provided notice and choice about the IBA activity on its website.
To read the Accountability Program's press release about the actions, click here.
Why it matters: The decisions "provide a roadmap of how the advertising industry's AdChoices program works to put consumers in control of interest-based advertising," the Accountability Program noted in its press release, adding that the cases brought the tally of public actions taken by the Accountability Program up to 63. "IBA involves a complex supply chain," Director of the Accountability Program Genie Barton noted in the release. The Digital Advertising Alliance's Self-Regulatory Principles "cover all companies in this supply chain and place responsibility on them to ensure that consumers receive notice and choice, however complex the ad serving chain may be."