The Network Advertising Initiative report released today, showing the performance and value of behavioral advertising, demonstrates the importance of policy-makers and businesses getting the balance of controls right in this area. We need to ensure that data enhanced advertising can continue to play a role in the ad economy, but we also need to provide users with better controls so they can more easily choose to be in or out. But, most critically, we need to create a transparent and respectful value proposition. Consumers do not care about the value of behavioral advertising to the economy or how well it works for marketers. They care about the value to themselves, personally! How does it make my experience better? How does it put me more in control of my experience and help me in any way?
Only by demonstrating the value to both business and consumers will behavioral advertising be able to flourish without constant policy and advocacy push back. The ad icon and messaging that FPF and WPP tested with consumers is a step “”for the good”, as FTC Consumer Protection Director David Vladeck said at last week’s FTC Privacy Roundtable. If the leading trade groups that have adopted this symbol as part of their self-regulatory efforts succeed in their plans to add a serious educational program around the symbol, it could be a key step towards the “information respect” called for by privacy experts like Professor Joseph Turow. Profile viewers and improved opt-out tools are also examples of progress from leading NAI companies, but we are hoping for the next steps toward meaningful consumer engagement in the year to come.
The icon and label notice that FPF and WPP designed and the leading trade groups have adopted is a key step in the right direction, as are profile viewers and improved opt-outs.