Industry Develops Privacy Regulations for Mobile Behavioral Targeting

Government regulators have always scrutinized the methods brands, agencies and online advertising vendors use to collect and utilize data to serve behaviorally targeted ads to consumers. With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, it is now mobile’s turn to be under the microscope.

Self-Regulation v. Government Regulation
So far, the digital advertising industry has managed to ward off federal regulations regarding online data collection and privacy. The Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) to jointly address these concerns. The DAA established standards that allowed the industry to regulate itself and protect consumer privacy. It also published Self-Regulatory Principles for Online Behavioral Advertising to list the comprehensive rules for online marketers. One of the guide’s main requirements states that online ads must provide two ways for consumers to opt out of being behaviorally targeted — users can click on the Ad Choices logo on ads or click on a link from a brand’s Web page.

Standards for Mobile Behavioral Targeting
Last week, the DAA published Application of Self-Regulatory Principles to the Mobile Environment, a guide to assist brands, agencies and vendors with making their mobile campaigns privacy compliant. Mobile ad campaigns are still a small segment of spending, and many advertisers are still targeting contextually. However, mobile ad spending is poised to explode in the next year, and with it will come more data availability and increased behavioral targeting. Similar to the 2009 guide, this document requires that advertisers offer consumers two means to opt out of behavioral targeting: a logo and a Web link.

Challenges Along the Way
There have already been challenges in implementing the online program, including the costs of brands keeping their sites up to date and the out-of-pocket costs to vendors such as Evidon or DoubleVerify. Bringing mobile into compliance will be even more challenging. Brands or their creative agencies must determine how to fit the AdSense logo onto an already tiny mobile ad. The opt out functions must work on mobile-enabled Web pages, mobile websites and mobile apps. The industry has not established if mobile vendors will provide any of these services. Recognizing these issues, the DAA provided a grace period to help the industry work through any problems and get the opt outs in place.

This program is helping ensure advertisers can reach their best customers in the most efficient way possible and that customers receive advertising that is most beneficial for them. As we watch for more details to emerge on this important topic, it is important that agencies help educate clients on the need for compliance, the benefits and how to achieve it.

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Lisa Kidwell
Lisa Kidwell