Dear Corporate Partners,
As the Internet and the advertising practices that increasingly support online content continue to evolve, a group of the nation’s largest media and marketing trade associations in conjunction with the Council of Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) have been working to develop enhanced industry self-regulation in ways that will foster transparency, knowledge and choice for consumers.
Today, I am pleased to announce the details of a comprehensive Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising that will give consumers enhanced notice and control over the collection and use of data regarding their Web viewing for online behavioral advertising (OBA) purposes.
I am writing to introduce a few key components of the Program and to encourage your participation in a set of educational sessions where you can learn much more.
This new Program provides specific implementation practices in support of the Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising, which the industry released in July 2009. Together, the Principles and Program respond to the Federal Trade Commission’s call for more robust and effective self-regulation of online behavioral advertising practices. The Program includes several important components:
- Advertising Option Icon: The Program promotes the use of an icon and accompanying language, to be displayed in or near online advertisements or on Web pages where data is collected and used for behavioral advertising. The Advertising Option Icon indicates that the advertising is covered by the self-regulatory program, and by clicking on it consumers will be able to link to a clear disclosure statement regarding the data collection and use practices associated with the ad, as well as an easy-to-use opt-out mechanism.
- AboutAds.info: Starting today, companies collecting or using information for behavioral advertising are encouraged to visit www.AboutAds.info to acquire and begin displaying the Advertising Option Icon, signaling their utilization of behavioral advertising and adherence to the Principles. Interested companies engaged in behavioral advertising can also register to participate in the easy-to-use consumer opt-out mechanism on the www.AboutAds.info site.
- Consumer Choice Mechanism: As business registration and use of the Advertising Option Icon expand, consumers will have an opportunity later this fall to visit www.AboutAds.info for information about online behavioral advertising and to conveniently opt-out of some or all participating companies’ online behavioral ads, if they choose.
- Accountability and Enforcement: Starting in 2011, the CBBB and the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) will be responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance, as well as managing consumer complaint resolution. DMA and CBBB will employ monitoring technology to report on companies’ adherence to the transparency and control provisions of the Program.
- Educational Campaign: To build awareness of the program among the business community and consumers, the trade associations will conduct a broad-based educational campaign. To facilitate this initiative, we have planned a series of webinars for businesses on how to implement the Principles. (Details on how to register for those sessions are included below.)
Over the coming weeks and months, the Council of Better Business Bureaus is committed to doing everything we can to help the industry understand and comply with the requirements of this new self-regulatory program. As a next step, we hope that you will join us for one of the implementation webinars scheduled throughout the month of October:
- Thursday, October 7 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
- Friday, October 15 at 12:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
- Wednesday, October 20 at 9:00-10:30 a.m. Eastern Time
- Tuesday, October 26 at 12:00-1:30 p.m. Eastern Time
- Thursday, October 28 at 9:00-10:30 a.m. Eastern Time
Stephen A. Cox
President and CEO
Council of Better Business Bureaus