Jan. 27, 2012 – The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) last week launched its “Your AdChoices” public education campaign to inform consumers about interest-based advertising and how to take greater control of their online privacy. This campaign follows several years of work by industry association leaders to develop and implement cross-industry best practices and effective solutions for the collection and use of advertising data.
The self-regulatory program and ad campaign respond to the increasing consumer angst about privacy and multiple proposals by Congress, the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Commerce to limit online tracking and targeting by marketers.
“The Internet is THE marketing tool of our age, but if we don’t respect consumer privacy preferences, consumers and the government will shut us down,” said John Kamp, executive director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication.
“The self-regulatory program created by the DAA and this ad campaign put us on the right track. However, we must deliver on our promise both by helping consumers fully understand the advantages to them of digital tracking and by respecting their decisions to opt out when they wish,” Kamp commented.
The Coalition opposes mandatory “Do Not Track” provisions introduced in multiple pieces of legislation crafted by the Congress in 2011, but also strongly supports industry self-regulation that enables easy consumer opt-outs of unwanted tracking and marketing. [For more information about the DAA program, go to: http://www.aboutads.info/.]
Currently, more than 400 companies participate in the DAA’s Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising – including many top-20 global advertisers.
“Because medical data is particularly sensitive, medical marketers must be among the first to adopt the self-regulatory program and show our customers that we can be trusted to deliver useful information while respecting their privacy,” Kamp asserted.
“With widespread industry adoption of the [program] principles, the DAA remains committed to informing consumers about interest-based advertising, online data collection and use, and the simple way they can exercise control over their Web viewing data,” said Peter Kosmala, DAA managing director. “This highly creative public education campaign is an important step in that ongoing process.”
However, the threat of Congressional or federal agency regulation remains real. The advertising industry is expecting a final report on online privacy from the FTC and the White House is putting together its own report on digital privacy during 2012. The DAA’s consumer education campaign may be criticized in these reports for not sufficiently stressing the opt-out function.
Based on extensive consumer research, the campaign videos were created pro bono by MRM of Salt Lake City, part of McCann World Group. The first part of the campaign stresses how online advertising can result in advertising more targeted to individual consumer interests, leading some to object. A Jan. 19 article in The New York Times was critical of the videos because they “fail to mention … that users can opt out of being the target of
personalized ads.” Writer Tanzina Vega states in the Times that “far from encouraging users to opt out, the ads emphasize how information that advertisers gather actually can improve the quality of the ads users see online.”
“The Times criticism is not completely fair,” according to Kamp, “but it is indicative of the skepticism out there. We must do this right and well, and the clock is ticking. What we don”t want is an EU-like privacy regulatory scheme which mandates informed consent for use of any cookies on a consumer brouser. That could kill much effective U.S. marketing.”