The Advertising Standard Authority’s remit will shortly cover Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA). The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has extended the CAP Code to cover this increasingly developed form of targeted advertising with a new series of Rules. OBA involves the collaboration of advertising networks and third parties to deliver customised advertising based upon deep analysis of a user’s web browsing activity. From 4 February 2013, the ASA will require advertisers and other ‘third parties’ to provide notice to web users, in or around online display advertisements that OBA is taking place. This notice must then link to a mechanism whereby users can opt out of receiving OBA from that third party. The third parties themselves must provide a notice on their website that they use data for OBA and the understanding is that most third parties will then link to an industry-wide website whereby users can choose the type of third parties which can target them with advertisements. Not only this but third parties will be required to gain explicit consent from users before using forms of OBA and they will be prohibited from targeting children aged 12 and under. CAP’s rules on OBA do not apply to contextual advertising, web analytics, ad reporting or the use of OBA in rich media, in-stream videos online or on mobile devices but once these regulations begin operating, we may see further extension.

CAP and the ASA have stated that they hope to resolve any breaches of the Code quickly between the parties but failing this the ASA will carry out a formal investigation and publish an adjudication where necessary and so again as soon as these regulations begin to be enforced we may have a better idea of their application and consequence in practice.