The International Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the National Advertising Initiative (NAI) recently published technical standards aimed at aiding advertisers in clearly communicating their online behavioral advertising practices to consumers. The technical standards were developed in light of pressure from the FTC to promote transparency in online behavioral advertising (defined as the practice of obtaining information about a consumer’s behavior on one website, and then using that information to serve advertising to that same consumer on another site). The new specifications were developed by IAB and NAI to be used by advertisers who engage in online behavioral advertising. Under the specifications, these companies would place an “ad marker” in close proximity to the advertisement, or on the advertisement itself. The ad marker is an icon that reads either, “Why did I get this/these ad(s)?”, “Interest Based Ad(s)”, or “Ad Choice(s)”. When clicked by consumers, the marker directs them to a page that contains information about why the ad was delivered, by whom, whether it was the result of behavioral targeted advertising, information about how to opt-out of such advertising, and other related information. While this program, called the “CLEAR Ad Notice,” is not a legal requirement, it does provide detailed information about a potential mechanism for complying with the FTC’s recent direction to advertisers to be transparent about any online behavioral advertising practices.
Tip: The notice standards for online behavioral advertising programs are still being developed, and the FTC has expressed concerns that many advertisers’ behavioral advertising practices are not being sufficiently disclosed. As such, you should contact legal counsel before engaging in the practice of online behavioral advertising. The IAB/NAI approach gives one option for how to potentially address the FTC’s transparency concerns.