Earlier this month the ASA published its half-year report into compliance with the new Online Behavioural Advertising (OBA) rules. By way of background, the rules apply to advertisers that collect and use web viewing behavioural data in order to deliver online ads that are more likely to be of interest to a consumer. The rules require advertisers to provide a notification to consumers that OBA is being used, as well as an opt-out mechanism on both their own websites and on the OBA ad itself (CAP Code Appendix 3, Rule 31.1.1) in order to provide consumers with increased transparency and control over the collection and use of their web viewing data.

The ASA found that the complaint numbers from users was very low – with only 77 complaints between February and June 2013. The report states that the "overwhelming majority of complaints focused on problems that consumers had experienced in trying to opt-out of receiving OBA" and that of 380 advertisers engaged in OBA activity, 77% of those were at risk of breaching Rule 31.1.1 as "the notification of OBA activity was either not present or was not clear enough". In the majority of cases, the notification appeared on the homepage in small print or within a Privacy Policy. The ASA has not taken any formal enforcement action on this issue as yet, nevertheless, it has started contacting advertisers who appear to be in breach, in order to draw their attention to the new rules.

The report’s findings should be heeded by advertisers and, in particular, those which engage in OBA should ensure that both their own websites and ads comply with the OBA rules. Contact a member of the ReACTS team if you are concerned about your compliance with this issue.