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When the Federal Trade Commission pushed for more transparency last year in online behavioral advertising, it also said web sites should provide a clear notice of their privacy principles. A new icon produced by the ad industry is designed to do that.
When the Federal Trade Commission pushed for more transparency last year in online behavioral advertising, it also said web sites should provide a clear notice of their privacy principles. A new icon produced by the online advertising industry is designed to do that.
The icon, depicted as a small “i” within an illustration made to look like a computer power-on/off button, was designed to be placed within or next to behavioral targeting ads that appear on web sites. Sites running the icon will display it with one of three captions: “Why did I get this ad(s)?” “Interest Based Ad(s)” or “Ad Choice(s).”
A behavioral targeting ad, which works with cookies placed on a consumer’s computer, typically relates to content viewed on previously visited web sites and appears on a consumer’s computer screen as she continues to surf the web.
By clicking the icon, a consumer can view a web site’s policies related to behavioral advertising and how they adhere to the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising as outlined by the FTC and the online advertising industry. The principles cover such things as security of confidential consumer data and the right of consumers to opt out of behavioral ads.
“From the onset of this project, we believed there were innovative ways to engage and inform consumers about behavioral advertising,” says George Pappachen, chief privacy officer at Kantar Group, a marketing services unit of WPP, a global marketing firm that developed the icon with the Future of Privacy Forum, a non-for-profit ad industry group. “By using consumer research to guide us and enlisting communication experts to create these new notices, we believe we have reached an effective tactic to help explain behavioral advertising to consumers.”
A study of 2,600 Internet users by WPP and the Future of Privacy Forum found that 40% of consumers who were exposed to transparency and choice in behavioral advertising said they were comfortable with such ads, up from 24% who had not experienced transparency and choice.
The study also found that the new icon to be an effective symbol for communicating the existing of behavioral ad principles, partly because consumers associated the lower case “i” with the terms “information” and “interest-based ads” and the power on-off image with the ability to opt in or out of ad content.
The new icon was officially announced recently by a coalition industry organizations: the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Direct Marketing Association, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Council for Better Business Bureaus.